I have nothing but praise for my first feminist. Nearly 50 when she guest starred on All In the Family as Edith Bunker’s feminist cousin, Bea Arthur’s indomitable, fierce, and unapologetically sexy character Maude was so beloved she was given her own ground breaking spinoff show, featuring taboo subject matter like domestic abuse, menopause (thank you!) and abortion. But on top of all that, Bea Arthur was sexy as hell. I was maybe twelve when I first saw her but I could tell she was an older woman who enjoyed her some sex. And she had a voice that people listened to. Maude changed my life.
The artist John Currin painted this as a testament to a formidable woman teetering on the precipice of remaining sexual while no longer considered socially sexually desirable– which Bea faced with unflinching humor and courage. In fact, when I grow up, I want to be just like her. Did you know Bea Arthur was also a Marine? Well, now you do.
But onto menopause relief. I practice yoga as much as possible. And it does help with my mind, body and my tolerance of others. And by practice I mean, some weeks I do mental yoga because I just can’t get there. I’m no ‘seven classes a week’ lady because I have a job, a kid and a steaming hot high pile of life to deal with on a daily basis.
But if I get to yoga 3 to 4 times a week, and do some gentle poses at night before bed, I don’t feel like a gangplank when the adorable one wakes me in the morning. Exercise can only help- just keep telling yourself that. Walking is exercise. Even walking with a full wine glass is still walking. Red wine is a superfood, right?
My meditation practice began with realizing that playing Words With Friends or checking out people with real lives on Facebook while baby napped wasn’t restoring me on the cellular level I craved. In fact, it just felt like a more stressful way to kill the brief respites one gets in prison, until my warden inevitably woke up hollering about a soggy diaper. Due to being extremely susceptible to massive self-help trends, I soon succumbed to the meditation craze.
The app Simply Being gave me the bravery to seize the quiet time I needed. Simply Being helped me unplug at night- but using a recorded app on a smartphone to help ‘unplug’ is oxymoronic at best. I found Analog Meditation. After 4 classes and a ceremony, I received my mantra. I practice twice a day, 20 minutes at a time.
Our Christmas break was two weeks of driving hours and hours to four separate family homes all over icy New York and New England, with a bad cold and a jetlagged toddler who hates Santa. Thanks to carving out my 2 little break times, every single day, I rarely lost it.
Meditation keeps me from commiting menopausal crimes against humanity. My husband does it now because he cannot believe how peaceful, present and unbitchy I am. Almost all of the fucking time.
1.Finally have a snoozing baby balanced on your chest and are suddenly overcome with the sensation of being Krazy-Glued ino a Polar-Vortex-approved sleeping bag? Kick off your shoes. Naked feet on a bare floor? Insta-relief.
2. My mom’s nothing if not a shopper. My first Christmas as a mom, she gave me refridgeratable jewelry. Is it cute? Yes, if you are into looking like Betty Rubble or like you’re going to a sockhop.
3. Freeze a few washcloths. Babies are such crazy little furnaces, so whether you are feeding or letting your babe fall asleep on you, bring a frozen washcloth with you. If baby ignites your Dante’s Inferno, drape the washcloth on the back of your neck. You’ll be amazed by how fast that cloth thaws.
4. Sucking on ice or popsicles help. And if your mouth is full, you’re less likely to scream at your husband. My hot flash triggers are: sudden bouts of unholy rage, hot ovens, warm babies, usually undeserved fury at husband, red wine. But it is a superfood, so… gotta stay healthy.
5. Talk about menopause with friends, or seek tips on mommy groups online. Other women are a huge resource. Menopause does not have to be a Silent Passage (written by Gail Sheehy in the early nineties- not recommended reading.) The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried and Christiane Northrup, MD seems to be popular on Amazon. Not endorsing, just mentioning. But talking about menopause makes it less silent and less scary.
I am not a doctor, nor am I prescribing or getting paid to endorse anything. (I wish!) What worked and works for me is Progesterone. See your gynecologist and find out what’s right for you. Since I was basically having a 2 year long period, my (female) gyno prescribed a plant-based bioidentical hormone. I sleep deeper, still desire my husband (from time to time) and haven’t had a screaming raging tear-streaked jag yet.
Acupuncture, cupping and vitamins are also helping me to keep my immune system engaging in Game of Thrones style combat with every day care inspired germ known to man but spread by host bodies, also referred to as children. I was flashing like mad a number of times a day, and night sweats every night, so my acupuncturist gave me Tian Wang Bu Xin Wan (that’s what she said). I also take black cohosh daily. Haven’t had a flash or a night sweat since.
All the above continually help me face down the aging monster. So does Botox, Belotero, Juvederm, Retinol and Radiesse, because, while I may be an Old Mom, I’m no Mother Teresa.