Sunday, January 27, 2008

Red Hot Mama

It happened again today – I was in a room with several women “of a certain age” (too young for Medicare, too old to text proficiently) and one of them said, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?” Everyone started commiserating about her hot flashes, and I started wondering if we’re not overstating it a bit. I mean, I wake up in the middle of the night once in awhile feeling a bit clammy, but from what I’ve read, only a small percentage of women have debilitating symptoms – and yet to hear them talk, every single one of us over 35 is spending every moment of every day and night sweating uncontrollably. Apparently perimenopause (which didn’t even exist 20 years ago) lasts 15 years . . . ?

It reminds me of being a teenager when most of my friends had started their periods – they took pride in complaining about their hideous cramps, and I, as a late bloomer, felt totally left out of the club. I actually resorted to borrowing nickels once a month because, “You know”! (Okay, even if I weren’t discussing menopausal symptoms, I just dated myself – how long has it been since tampons cost a nickel?) Once I finally started, I realized that sure, cramps happened occasionally, but not nearly as often or as universally as the other girls claimed, in their zeal to fit in.

Or maybe it’s more like the first time I got high, my sophomore year of college (yeah, I was a late bloomer here too). I was so intent on figuring out exactly what I was feeling, I took notes and kept wondering (and writing), “Is this it? I don’t know if I just feel weird or if I’m really high, nahh, I don’t think anything is really happening, although gee, for some strange reason I’m really hungry and my mouth feels like it’s full of cotton.” Likewise, I keep wondering, Is this an actual hot flash?, when actually, it's just hot!

Maybe all of us are going through the same doubts – is this really it? – and figure, what the heck, it’s fun to commiserate and to be part of the gang. Besides, it’s even more fun to complain about hot flashes and to hear someone say, But you’re way too young for menopause. Meanwhile I can look forward to the real thing (and the end of cramps!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Boys and snails and puppy dog tails

I went to a meeting the other night, where the hostess had put out a lovely display of appetizers, assorted drinks, and plates which all actually matched. When one of the attendees complimented her on her lovely home, her response was to apologize that she hadn’t had time to clean the bathroom, because of some work deadlines and a new puppy. So naturally I had to go use the bathroom to see for myself – it was neater than a bathroom has ever dreamed of being in my house! (The tiny pawprint on the bathmat even looked artistic.) Several of the childless women at the meeting compared notes on their pets and agreed it was great practice for when they eventually had kids.

I kept myself from laughing out loud, but only with difficulty. I mean, you can train a dog to do all sorts of things for an occasional biscuit or pat on the head, but I have yet to come up with a bribe (or punishment) that will ensure my boys flush the toilet, much less put the seat down. Sure, puppies need training and company and supervision when they’re young, but they’re housebroken at 2 or 3 months – honey, it takes a BIT longer with a human. If your dog needs a bath, you give him one (or take him to the groomers), you don’t have to convince him that after a day including PE., ultimate frisbee, and walking home from the bus, he smells terrible. and needs to shower, and by the way, please remember to wash under his arm. Dogs don’t need help with homework, they don’t need rides to rehearsals or lessons or practice (or require 5 cross-referenced carpools), and they never say, “Eww, dog food again? I hate this brand!” (However, in fairness to my boys, they’ve never chewed up any of my shoes or burrowed in the kitchen garbage.)

So while I chuckle at dog owners who really think they're prepared for motherhood, I'm glad I have both boys and a dog, and there is nothing sweeter than cuddling with a sleepy boy on one side and an affectionate mutt terrier on the other side, even if none of my appetizer plates match and my downstairs bathroom is a science project.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Today I am a man"

Those are the cliche words from barmitzvah speeches - which David didn't actually say - and of course it seems ridiculous to regard a 13-year-old boy as a man, but at what point does he make that transition? With girls it's easy to point to the day she starts her period, but boys don't have any milestone that specific. Is it his first shave? his first nocturnal emission? his first paycheck? For us, the turning point may be the fact that over the past 2 months, David has become taller than I am, seemingly overnight. For a couple of weeks we were the same height, and suddenly, I'm wearing 2 inch heels and looking up at him. I realize that many mothers go through this when their sons are 12 or even younger, but it still feels like a major transition. And naturally I've got 2 boys on opposite ends of the spectrum - David is a 'late bloomer', and Ben had underarm hair (and the accompanying body odor) when he was 9.

This is yet another instance where my mom can claim Mother Nature is having her revenge on me (just like when David was a preschooler and turned out to be as picky an eater as I'd been). She dealt with 2 daughters at dramatically different developmental stages - I'm the oldest and didn't need a bra til I was 17, whereas my sister, 3 years younger, was a C cup in 7th grade. I worried for years that I'd never have a period and I'd be barren forever; two months after I finally started (at 15), my sister had her first period and promptly announced she wanted a hysterectomy.

Dad had read an article encouraging fathers to treat the onset of menses as a special occasion, so he announced he'd take us each out for a fancy brunch after we'd 'become a woman'. (Of course, this was when I was 9 - it was a LONG wait!, but worth it.) Nancy, on the other hand, decided it was disgusting (she had decided she couldn't leave the house, because everyone would "know"), so she informed Dad that brunch would have to wait until menopause (which is, naturally, sneaking up on her faster than it is on me, according to our recent comparison of hot flashes.)

I love the idea of celebrating my boys' development, but I still haven't figured out a logical occasion. David's hebrew teacher encouraged us to commemorate the bar mitzvah the way his mother had: "Son, in the eyes of Jewish law, you are now an adult. Here's how to do your laundry" - but that's not quite it. I guess I'll wait til they get driver's licenses and can drive me to brunch?, but in the meantime, I'll enjoy the fact that David actually does his laundry - occasionally - and I'll keep shopping for higher heels!

Friday, January 4, 2008

OMG: We srvivd b4 txtng, FYI!

Has texting gone a bit haywire? Teens don’t talk on the phone, they don’t even email, they just send cryptic abbreviations that have english teachers worrying about the future of accurate spelling. I feel like the old curmudgeon, complaining that kids today don’t know how to parse a sentence or churn their own butter, and reminiscing about the good old days of fountain pens that leaked and cars without power steering.

I’m all for keeping up with technology – I love email for transacting business or keeping up with friends whose schedules don’t jive with mine, and an iPod is much more convenient than those old bulky walk-mans (not to mention 8-track tapes). However, this texting craze seems to have gotten out of hand – it’s one thing to send a quick text to someone in a meeting, so you don’t interrupt anything (Pls PU kds @ 3, thnx), but I had to institute a no-texting rule in my carpools, because apparently teenagers can’t wait 15 minutes to reply to an urgent message about who said what to whom about you know what, RUOK?, and the incessant clicking sound from 3 competing phones was driving me crazy.

I’m actually lucky – I have boys, who aren’t nearly as committed to texting as most girls. And my younger son is the only 11-year-old on the planet who doesn’t have a cell phone (am I also a neanderthal in that area? I think he can wait til he’s 13, since it's the big incentive for him to go through his bar mitzvah, and besides, this way he has something else to complain about, on top of our house having no 2nd t.v., no wii, game cube, etc., and the only mother in the world who makes her kid read occasionally).

I can decipher the lingo, BTW, I jst dnt thnk its gr8 2 tlk w/o vowels or punctuation. So I'll allow some texting, but minimal, and let the kids have even more to complain about. Oh well, I thought my parents were behind the times because their idea of a wild night out was their contract bridge club and I introduced them to recycling. I can’t wait to see what my future grandchildren think of my boys!