Stages of Life (for women): Although in the TV show Merlin they referred to the Triple Goddess, all they were referring to are the 3 main stages of adult female life: the maiden or young woman, next the mother which just means she’s older and has child/ren, then lastly the crone: normally menopausal and quite possibly grandchildren or at least old enough to have grandchildren and even adult grandchildren and great-grandchildren (old has several levels itself).
Today’s post is about later stages of the mother. I’m nearly 51 years old and have an “adult child” rather than a child. While still firmly middle aged based on an 85 year life span, maybe more or a little less, that’s about it….I’m as much older as a 30 year old as my 23 year old offspring is to a 3 year old….as much older as it takes a human to go from conception to adulthood.
At some point it dawned on me that for many people “middle age” is the longest period of life. However, I’ve also met enough older people to see that youth may in fact be the shortest phase. During youth and one’s 20s it really doesn’t seem like most of one’s life was just the warm up for the reality; the vast majority of life spent as an adult.
Teens & Perimenopause
What these 2 phases in life have in common are major hormonal fluctuations that can cause mood swings, behavioral and psychological changes or even personality changes. Self-identification can also shift. (In truth, pregnancy can be even more drastic but that’s a story for another day).
Both phases have everything to do with human reproductive power.
Teens develop into being able to be mothers and adults. During perimenopause, we’re heading towards the exit door: been there, done that. All finished with baby making, thanks so much.
During either phase it can seem like it isn’t just a phase, but it is. Perimenopause lasts as long, or longer than being a teenager does. Freaky, but true.
Whether or not something is a blessing, a curse or something else can depend on how it is interpreted. Perhaps because I was single or due to religious beliefs/interest, when perimenopause struck me at age 46 years I at first believed that God had finally answered a prayer that I stop being tortured by intense sexual desire regardless of whether or not acting on it would be okay. Right before I wrote this post, I read some other lady’s: married women may suffer new kinds of anxiety about how to keep her husband happy when she stops experiencing nearly as much sexual desire….Which was really nothing more than a plot by Nature to persuade us to engage in behavior liable to lead to babies and raising more people.
For my own sake, it really felt like a blessing…and really did just feel like I was no longer being tortured by built-in desires. It did not make it so that I have absolutely zero sexual desire, responsiveness or interest but like I was no longer in chronic danger of being overwhelmed by intense energies that I struggled with for control over my own behavior during some of my life. I hadn’t ever meant to either deny nor to make too much of sexual energies. I didn’t find it that easy to keep the proper balance of them in relation to my own lifestyle for 30 years; then finally some relief.
It did make enough of a difference that I realized that had I still been married, it would have become about how to convince my husband that I still love him when instead of his lustful, passionate wife I was suddenly satisfied with a hug and trying to avoid sex….it seemed like a good husband might wonder if I were having an illicit affair and that explained the sudden lack of sexual interest.
No need to make babies = no need to feel horny.
I’m a fairly learned person, so I do recall reading that the great Athenian philosopher Socrates wrote that for men, the greatest gift of older age is being able to think straight because the cloudiness caused by sexual desire wanes.
But seriously folks, what else?
The adventure of perimenopause mainly means that 25 years of menstrual regularity suddenly became irregular.
The most shocking discovery was that those tiny daily panty liners are for older women more so than for 12 to 15 year old girls. I never would have believed it until it started happening to me.
The first month I had a weird period I thought it was either a miracle from God or a type of witchcraft I hadn’t run into before. By the 3rd month I realized that it was just Mother Nature….Since it began, some months are almost the same as when I was 30 but much of the time it is much less and lighter flow.
A lot of the time, my periods are only as much in an entire week as one day of heavy flow at ages 30 and 40.
Then, in my later 40s, for the first time since I’d gotten pregnant well over ten years earlier, I just didn’t menstruate. That went on for a few months. Right after I had concluded that I never would again, I did.
The last month of being 50 the big thrill on that front was that I menstruated in December for the first time since I was 47 years old. Weird.
Aside from not being tormented by excessive sexual desire with no husband, there have been a few other benefits of perimenopause: less fuss and filth and reduced expenses of feminine products.
For me personally, the greatest benefit has been an emotional evenness or reduced emotional reactivity that I really like. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have any emotional reactions, but it is less drastic than when I was younger. It is possible that this is only 20% the result of hormones and the rest is based on other factors, but I suspect that it is 99% hormonal changes, and only 1% any changes in personal character or personality.
Sorry if that doesn’t seem great to you; those are really all the benefits as far as I can tell so far.