09/27/2011 03:21 pm ET | Updated Nov 27, 2011

Menopause: Not Just For Moms Anymore!

My son was upset the other night because he realized he'd only practiced piano a couple times throughout the week and his lesson was the next day. He was very hard on himself, and I said, "I'm sorry, honey. You're only nine; mommy needs to remind you more often. That's part of my job."

"But you're in menopause!" he cried. "You can't remember anything!"

And it hit me. I'm not too young for menopause -- my children are too young for it. Or, rather, for me to be in it. I just finished telling them how a woman's body makes babies, and now I have to tell them how it stops. It's like the short-attention-span-theater version of life talks. Gee, maybe they'll at least be in middle school before I tell them why my bladder's hanging down to my knees.

At least I'm not alone. I've met many, many moms my age -- with young children -- going through the same thing. Heck, if they can make a Broadway musical about it, then there's something going on. And what's going on, quite simply, is that we're having kids later. At my son's ball games, I could just as easily be sitting next to a pregnant mom as a fellow hot-flasher.

As one friend says, though, 50 is the new 30, and I'm good with that. Heck, I'd be good if it were the new 49. I feel young, and whatever my body has to go through, it will go through. It's biology, that's all. It's just taking some getting used to. When my mom went through all this, I'd already finished college and commiserated with her over some cheese and a nice Chardonnay -- not Lucky Charms and a juice box.

Besides, I've been denying my aging for as long as I can remember (Ha! That's a joke, because of course I can't remember!) When the state fair guy guessed my age three years too high I blamed my husband. ("You've got gray hair! Of course he's going to think I'm older! I told you to wait over there!")

A few years ago, when the emergency room doctor had trouble quieting my 2-year-old daughter and gave her to me, saying, "Tell Grandma where it hurts," I blamed the truly poor lighting (and lest you misread me, there is nothing wrong with being a grandma. Some of the nicest people I know are grandmas. And I look forward to being one myself ... later).

And when the kids ask why I can't jump on the trampoline with them without peeing my pants, I of course blame them.

But eventually there was no more denial. We were all walking through Target one day when I started sweating uncontrollably. My hair became soaked, my neck was dripping, I was shaking and my knees were weak. My husband watched the whole thing in horror, wondering if I was having a heart attack or merely trying to embarrass him. "What the heck's wrong with you?" he asked as I sat on a display to recover.

I glared at him. "It's a hot flash," I hissed. "You know, those things that I'm 'not really having'?"

And then there are the one-sided conversations we have after the lights go out.

"Honey, it's too hot in here. Open a window, would you?"

"Okay, now I'm kind of chilly. Can you close it back up a little? Thanks, babe."

"Um, sweetie, I'm sweatin' over here. What about that window?"

"Okay, am I the only one in here with goosebumps? Close the window, already!"


So I have to explain all this to the kids, or else they'll think Mommy is sick. Between the hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, weight gain, mood swings, facial hair, hormonal acne, and memory problems ... actually, except for the first two, that all sounds alarmingly normal. No wonder they're confused.

Wait -- we have a piano?