Raising a daughter has been a very eye opening experience for me; it’s been very different than raising my son so many years ago. It’s interesting and challenging that I spend so much time trying to keep my girl from growing up so fast, seems as a society we have decided girls just need to grow up and grow up quickly. Today’s five year old in many ways is like the middle schooler of yesterday with regards to attitudes and desires. Lately I feel like a broken record as I explain yet again why she can’t watch this show or that show can’t do this or that and while its nice that little Jane does that, it is not part of our value system for our family.
What I am struck by though is that in the midst of this battle to keep my girl on a developmentally appropriate track is how as a society when it comes to women and girls in general we are all skewed. Young girls are in a race to grow old quickly yet when you grow up, as women the focus becomes stay young. It’s no wonder you see mothers and daughters who look more like sisters than parent and child, getting old…real old is not hip, not valued and frankly it’s a shame.
In our quest to ignore biology as the elders (our grandmothers, aunts and others) die away we no longer as a collective pass on knowledge that those women understood about the very ways of being women. Lately I find myself missing my Granny who often would talk to me about growing old and the very real changes that happen within for women. I remember being young and thinking ok…she is yapping again. Now I treasure the bits and pieces of knowledge that I recall from those conversations.
Nowhere is the lack of mother wisdom apparent than with women and our bodies and the changes that happen as we get older. Oh, we know the basics, one day we will no longer menstruate and then we will be menopausal…the end. Or so we think. Yet many women are not aware that there is a state that happens before menopause that is commonly referred to as perimenopause. In our quest to stay forever young even women who consider themselves knowledgeable often don’t realize that the pre-menopausal state can occur a good 10 years before menopause officially hits. What that means practically speaking is you can be in your late 30’s or early 40’s and start experiencing these changes. You are still fertile and all that good jazz it’s just that the body is slowly prepping for that life transition. Ask me how I know? It was over a year ago that I was told I was perimenopausal, at first I like what the fuck? Yet it started to make sense that many of the changes I was feeling are tied to a new transition.
However greater than the physical changes is the mental, emotional and even spiritual changes that occur. As Joan Borysenko states in A Woman’s Journey to God “It is a miracle of feminine biology that we undergo a major mental housekeeping in preparation.” Much like the fact that in the few days leading up to our periods we feel greater clarity in our lives, being in a perimenopausal state provides a similar clarity that affects every area of our life. It’s no wonder or coincidence that so many women in their late 30’s and early 40’s flip careers, leave marriages or even realize their true sexual orientation. Its not about being flighty it’s the fact that at this stage in life we are truly comfortable in our skin and no who the fuck we are. Yet in a culture hell bent on keeping us young, it’s easy to miss these signals if we don’t realize the gifts that come with accepting the aging process as a gift.
Yet even for me it bothers me at times that we live in a time when we can share and talk about so much of ourselves but talk about deeply personal shit like this and you can feel the collective energy get sucked out of a room. If we truly want to give our girls a gift we need to start the get open about the amazing circle of life that resides within the female body. I admit as someone who has identified as Christian for many years, lately I find myself reading a lot of pagan and Goddess centered works in part because they are open and embracing of these changes in ways I feel that were lost with Christianity.
In closing…embrace your being and the changes!