Once upon a time there was a very lovely, sweet-natured little girl who lived in a house with her calm and sensible mother, her patient and caring father and cute, if not somewhat annoying, little brother.
One day puberty burst into the house uninvited and announced itself with a flourish. It transformed the very lovely, sweet-natured little girl into a completely irrational sullen pre-teen who began to perfect the art of eye rolling and door slamming whilst introducing a new style of walk her parents labelled ‘harumpffing’ which was used at will around the house whilst tormenting her cute, and yet annoying little brother, so he became less cute and more annoying in return.
Meanwhile, to add insult to injury, around the same time her calm and sensible mother was accosted and tackled by the onset of the perimenopause causing any calmness to fly right out of the window along with her fleecy sweater torn from her boiling body several times a day, as the rest of the household huddled in front of the fire as the winter chill bellowed through the window threatening hypothermia for the rest of the family.
One afternoon following a long day at work mummy was in the midst of her usual multi-tasking role of dishing out answers to homework questions, preparing the dinner, washing up, feeding the animals and sorting laundry whilst simultaneously mopping up spilt drinks knocked over by fidgeting little brother all over homework which was now lying wet and soggy on the table awaiting attention.
The girl was called into the kitchen to help. A big mistake clearly and demonstrated by door slamming, the ‘harumpff’ walk and a big ‘hurrrrr’ sigh for extra measure, as irritable mummy snapped her orders for the pile of laundry to be folded and put away. Please. As the girl slouched off into the bedroom with the basket of washing muttering something inaudible on the way out but was probably “why do I aaaaaalways have to do evvvvverything” mummy counted to 10 several times trying hard to repress the urge to throw the chicken stew all over the kitchen walls and utter the exact same words.
When mother later entered the bedroom to check on the laundry sorting progress, she found clothes were being thrown sulkily across the room. Mother’s head began to throb and as she put her fleece back on and closed all the windows she stood in front of her daughter hands on her hips, ready to explode. But first she had to take her fleece off again and open the window.
Meanwhile the boy took this vital pause in parental observation as an opportunity to cast aside any concentration he might have had and was last seen escaping ninja style on all fours across the kitchen floor and heading towards a screen of some description with one thing on his mind. FIFA.
Mother v Daughter Menopause v Puberty Anger v Frustration Sighing v Harumpffing.
In the red corner stood a young girl whose body is just beginning to approach adolescence and preparing itself for womanhood and (at some point) child birth. With budding breasts, slim supple body and glowing skin she exudes a general zest, energy and enthusiasm for a life just blossoming and on the verge of great adventure. Her estrogen levels are positively bubbling over, as are her emotional mood swings.
In the blue corner is a tired mum whose body enjoyed its peak over 20 odd years ago (for a brief period in the early 90s) and is now on the slippery slope to middle age and a sell by date. Her baby producing days are all but over as her eggs have pretty much dried up alongside her libido. Her body, which carried her babies, now simply wear the battle scars and as the estrogen flees her body like rats deserting a sinking ship, likewise other body parts, such as her breasts, butt and facial muscles have given up the strength to hold themselves taunt and have wilted under the pressure of age.
Perimenopause – that empty void between fertility and infertility and that glaring chasm between youthfulness and middle age. It can last years apparently before you can officially arrive at the menopause only truly clarified by a 12 month absence of a menstruation (about the only fringe benefit on offer). So this is the transitional period, the limbo years, the waiting room before the rattling, chugging steam train pulls out of the station devoid of passengers because its carriages are quite frankly too cold and barren. Meanwhile puberty is the new locomotive all pristine and untainted which charges and zooms at a rate of knots through the station in the opposite direction without stopping and sounding its horn brazenly. The carriages are full to the brim of excited passengers, laughing and chattering in warm, comfy seats, eager to get to their destination and party.
The two stare at each other. Unblinking. Mother willing daughter to push the button which will unleash the perimenopausal beast. The pubescent daughter desperately wanting to harumpff her way out of the room and Vlog about her new nail varnish and text the friends she saw just 20 minutes ago.
Mummy sighs. The two women in the house are at opposite ends of the scale. Heading further apart as each day goes by. The only thing they have in common is the emotional rollercoaster. And the hatred of folding and sorting laundry. If they are to survive the next few years mummy really must try harder to understand both their changes and explain to her daughter about coping with these developments and how to not only accept them, but appreciate them for ultimately what they mean – growth.
Sometime later the caring and patient Station Master arrives home from work to find the dinner has stewed into a gloopy inedible mess, the house is freezing, the cat has pee’d on the kitchen floor, the boy is playing FIFA again and a pile of homework is sat soggy on the kitchen table and far from finished.
He casually enters the bedroom to find wife and daughter lay on the bed giggling and laughing like crazed hyenas high on Pro Plus amid a mountain of jumbled washing. Two sets of crazed eyes look up as he enters daring him to do anything or say anything. He retreats carefully trying not to make a sound or even eye contact. He sneaks a beer from the fridge and heads off to wait until the hormone party has called it a day. He rolls his eyes (quietly) and sighs (quietly) wondering what’s for tea now and if he’ll have any clean pants to wear tomorrow.