Beginnings and endings: 1966 and 2007

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.”–Coco Chanel

Two special dates: July 1966 and April 2007

Beginnings and endings.

July 1966 – Detroit, Michigan

I’m in the bathroom, calling out to my mom.

“MomMomMOM MOMMEEE!! Where ARE you? Guess what?”

You know what they say, a mom always knows.

“Honey, I bet you just started menstruating, am I right?” (She was a nurse and always always used a medical term instead of slang. Like we always said “urinate” instead of pee; vagina and penis instead of -well– instead of anything else.)

After a hug and a lengthy (yawn) tutorial about personal hygiene, my mom took me out for lunch and a shopping spree to commemorate this milestone towards womanhood. She told me that when she first began to menstruate, all she got was a slap in the face from her mother, some kind of archaic ritualistic symbolism that had something to do with the fact that her father (my grandfather) was a rabbi. She told me that she was horrified and never forgot it, and if she ever had a little girl, she’d mark the occasion with a celebration, not a punishment.

At school it was called “Aunt Flo” or “Secret Sam” (don’t ask me why.)

Back then everyone used cumbersome huge Kotex pads attached by a hellish contraption known as a “Kotex belt.” Made up of white elastic encompassing your waist along with two plastic clips that attached to each end of the pad, it took some getting used to — and felt very much like my biking shorts do now. It was a great day when I graduated to tampons.

That started years of worry. Worry about waiting to “start”. Worry about what to wear to avoid an accident, and later, worry about NOT starting, waiting every month with a silent prayer to the Period Goddess — please oh please let me start; I’ll be more careful next time. And then getting married and wanting to start a family; holding my breath every month and willing my body to NOT– becoming compulsively scientific, taking temperatures and  stressing over ovulation days and counting. Worry, worry, worry.

Worry about the baby I did become pregnant with…will he be healthy, will I be a good mom, will I produce enough milk, can I protect him from all harm and sadness–the what ifs drove me crazy.

April 2007 was the date of my last menses, my last period. At the risk of alienating my peers, I have to be honest and admit that I had no symptoms of menopause — I experienced none of the common complaints. Oh, I had an occasional hot flash–which I actually enjoyed since I’m always cold — for a few brief moments, it felt like I had my own personal heater. And once in a while, I’d feel a bit tingly which brought back awesome memories of a similar feeling when I was breastfeeding and my milk “let down”. I told my doctor all this and she nodded her head and said she had experienced the same sensations.

I am so happy to be done with all that worry.  I don’t have to check the calendar every month and worry about when or if I’m going to need to carry tampons with me.

It’s not that I’m not still kinda crazy, but my level of worry is diferent. Not that I don’t worry constantly about my son, but he’s a grown up thirty-two- year-old Yale professor and my worry for him is a bit less intense.

I feel freer. Tranquil. Confident. Satisfied. I can take a deep breath now and exhale.

Don’t get me wrong; I do believe Coco Chanel. I still work out like a fiend every day to fit in my size two skinny jeans; I fight the good fight with Botox and color my gray hair, but I’m a very happy fifty-eight-year-old, and proud to say it. Bring on the next chapter of my life. I’m ready!

This post is written for a Generation Fabulous BlogHop. Generation Fabulous is a new website for and about women who are rocking middle-age and beyond. Please click here to see more.

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41 thoughts on “Beginnings and endings: 1966 and 2007

  1. Pingback: Kicking Old Age’s Butt, Figuratively Speaking Of Course Because Old Age Doesn’t Have A Butt | TheFurFiles

  2. Fun to bracket this post with your first and last menstruation and what they meant to you. It’s been just over a year since my last period and I’m quite happy to be done with that phase.

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  3. My daughter is only 6 weeks older than your son! And I will be your age on my birthday in December. Not suffering too much with menopause either except for some hot flashes, but mine did not come about naturally – I had a subtotal hysterectomy in 2005 for endometriosis. I was the oldest female in my family to still have her uterus – endometriosis & fibroids run in my family.

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      • No I didn’t take replacement hormones. We have a family history of early stroke. My mother had a stroke in her 20’s from the hormones in birth control. I was a smoker for many years & have carried extra weight for a long time, so it would be too dangerous for me to take hormones. BTW, my daughter’s birthday is in Feb. – she’s 6 weeks older than your son.

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      • I got it backwards, it’s belated birthday wishes I’m sending to your daughter, not early wishes! A male doc that I don’t see anymore wanted me to start taking birth control pills even tho i had no menopause symptoms, I never saw him again, now I love my female doc!

        On Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 6:38 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo

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  4. “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” Yes 50 now, no longer have the face of 20, in the bus, sometimes people get up to let me have his/her seat. Feeling rather sad!

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  5. I also remember the day I started period, and the last day I bleed. The marked a phase–the fertile phase–of my life like bright red parenthesis.

    I never knew getting slapped was a rabbinical custom. That’s terrible! I’m glad your mom decided to do away with that. My mother wasn’t told about hers and thought she was going to die when it came. She swore she’d never do that to her daughter, so she told me at some ridiculously young age. But at least I was prepared.

    I’m afraid that hot flashes were much worse for me than I ever thought they could be. It feels like my whole body is going to spontaneously combust. I don’t like it at all.

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  6. That is BEAUTIFUL! I loved loved loved this post! You just motivated me to try one…funny the part about wanting aunt flo to come and then not wanting it to come…soooo retardedly true…seriously holding my breath every time….*sigh* looking forward to NOT having to hold my breath any longer! Goodluck on fitting those size 2 AGAIN…I don’t think I ever even wore a size 2 besides in middle school LOL >>.<< xoxox

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  7. So far, it hasn’t been too bad, just the annoyance of a period that comes when it wills. Last year I went five months without one, then it was every month again. Think I’ve gone three months so far this time. Am looking forward to permanently retiring all my feminine supplies (though I might keep a few on hand for younger female guests). How nice that you have those dates to bookmark, and what a lovely mother.

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