Many women today choose to have children at an older age. This is great, especially for women who wish to pursue careers or enjoy their youth before settling down. Not to mention, there are many options for women that allow them to remain fertile, even well into their 40s. Some health professionals even think that being pregnant at an older age is better for women than when they are younger since most women around 40 are at a more mature stage in life (like having higher incomes, for example). However, one fact that many older mothers may not consider is how they’ll react to a pubescent child if they’re going through menopause at the same time.
Luckily, I didn’t have to experience the wrath of my mom experience hot flashes while I was in the throes of serious door-slamming tantrums. I cannot begin to imagine the fighting matches that go down in those types of households. Or worse, having more than one kid going through puberty while a mother goes through the beginning stages of menopause, which is not pleasant to my understanding. Yet, this phenomena occurs more and more as women choose to have babies in their mid to late 30s and early 40s.
In fact, playwright April de Angelis takes this theme to the stage in her West End play Jumpy. The main character, Hilary, is a mother going through a mid-life crisis of her own. Her marriage is held together by a string, she just turned 50, she lost her job, and her daughter is 15 and in the throes of puberty. According to a review of the play, 15-year-old Tilly is “of such sexual provocativeness and sneering contempt that she’s a walking advertisement for the old adage that teenagers are God’s punishment for having sex.”
The play’s overarching theme is about loss, which is apparent, since Hilary is losing faith in her marriage, losing her young sweet daughter to a whirlwind of hormones, and, most importantly, losing her mind. I would too if I had a daughter that was in a constant hormone rage while I myself was experiencing severe hormonal changes.
In all seriousness, this situation can be difficult for a household. For example, I know that during puberty I was not my rational self when in a hormonal episode, and many times it took my mother’s patient love and support to guide me through to sanity. However, if my mother were going through the first stages of menopause while I was going through puberty, the household would’ve been a battleground. She personally experiences the same hormonal fits that often blind rationality. In this case, no one would get the same levelheaded support that we need in a mother-daughter relationship because we would have both been blinded by hormones.
Dr. Christiane Northrup wrote about the similarities between menopausal women and girls experiencing puberty. The same hormones are affected (FSH and LH), except that the process seems to be in reverse. Due to this natural hormone imbalance, brain changes take place that result in emotional, irritable anxiety. How we deal with these changes is up to us. If we experience a lot of family or work drama while these changes are happening, the result is likely to be more volatile. This could also have to do with why girls experience such hostility during puberty—middle school and high school are areas of high-stress academically and socially.
So, if menopause and puberty are happening in the same household, could any sense of balance and rationale essentially flies out the window? Small adjustments can be made to make the process less painful. For example, communication is key. When we share our feelings with someone, especially to our mother or daughter, we find ourselves emotionally vulnerable. This actually makes the relationship stronger in the long run and can solve any issues that double dosages of hormones might cause. In addition, it is much better to blame any hostile or volatile behavior on hormones rather than one another. This way, both the daughter and her mother can acknowledge that there is an outside force that can sometimes wreak havoc upon their relationship. It is unavoidable and unpredictable, so just being able to place the blame on a third party could alleviate some emotional pain.
All in all, this is a common scenario these days and women should not worry. Maybe evolution will fix the problem, but for now we must forge through the hormonal crossfire.