Monday, April 21, 2008

Red Tide Incoming

Warning: this post contains references to menstruation. If female bodily functions disturb you, stop reading here.


Well, I did warn you. If you're still reading, it's your own damn fault. Yes, folks, it's PMS week here in the Gotthardt home, and there is less rejoicing.

This month's PMS features impatience with children who lose their rain coats and think an umbrella and t-shirt are fine substitutions in a cold rain. Also this month, we have running-late-stress which in warmer, damper weather, causes increased heat intolerance and perspiration. Finally, this month we celebrate the usual sensitivity including overly sentimental memories of the children when they were babies and toddlers, resulting in an overwhelming craving to pick up and hug other people's babies who might not be so receptive to the whims of Aunt Flo's impending visit.

Please don't confuse this craving for wanting more babies. There's no relationship whatsoever. I'm done with diapers and midnight feedings and incoherent bursts of crying that always make you wonder, "What am I doing wrong that this baby is so unhappy?"

Post-partum, I used to cry when my babies did. Thank GOD my kids are older. They rarely cry when they are hungry, and obviously, they don't cry when they are cold because they disregard outerwear. I don't feel compelled to tear when they bawl over a playground incident or a hard day at school. Older children can usually communicate their feelings more, and that makes it much easier for parents who prefer actual words to gumless screaming.

PMS is something I've lived with for a long time. I've grown accustomed to feeling fat(ter), more teary, fatigued, and stressed at this time of the month. In the past ten years, I've learned to avoid making important decisions during PMS week. I've learned to expect some sadness for any or no reason.

My hormonal troubles began early in life, around age fifteen. On and off treatments have helped somewhat, but anyone who suffers from these special female problems can tell you it's a burden that's really not recognized by our society. We get dissed as "illogical" and "overly emotional," as if menstruation warrants ignoring our ideas and thoughts once a month or even until we pass menopause. My mind is just as active, analytical, and curious as it is the rest of the month, which gives no credence to, "Aw, she's on the rag. Don't listen to her." Tears do not equal lack of logic, even though hormonal patterns seem to defy logic at times.

I see this as a design flaw....poor planning on the part of the creator. Either that or it's an opportunity to demonstrate to the world once again that not everyone has to live the same kind of life or feel the same way, for better or for worse.

I want to be one of those Indian ladies who gets to run off with her girlfriends when she gets her period. They all hang out and work as a community (albeit a moody and bleeding community) until they feel better. That's what we need---monthly sabbatical for pre-menstrual and menstruating women.

I've also learned that as soon as I get my period, I feel better and have more energy. Organizational mode kicks in. House cleaning increases. I expect my family to follow suit by putting laundry in its rightful place and picking up after themselves more often than usual. It's a good time to be in my home if you are a visitor because the place looks better. It's a bad time to be in my home if you are my husband or my children. I can be annoying, especially because work tends to pile up more during the PMS week making post-PMS a time to catch up.

I have a feeling when my daughters start, it's going to be interesting around here, since women who live together tend to cycle together. I can just see us all impatient one minute, group hugging the next. We'll want to draw into this circle as many people, babies and pets as we can.

Maybe it's my husband who will need the monthly sabbatical.

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