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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Attachment Parenting: Are YOU Attached or Detached?

Oh guurrl, pleeze!

Y’all don’t know WHAT “attachment parenting” really is.

Y’all just be amateurs if you think it ends when they start school!

time-magazine-breastfeeding-cover-time-magI’m sure by now everyone has seen the Time magazine cover of a breastfeeding four-year old, or here’s Wikipedia’s definition of attachment parenting: Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears,[1] is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology.

According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences.

Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child form a secure attachment style which fosters a child’s socio-emotional development and well-being.

In extreme and rare conditions, the child may not form an attachment at all and may suffer from reactive attachment disorder.

Principles of attachment parenting aim to increase development of a child’s secure attachment and decrease insecure attachment.

Although there is research which shows that when mothers are taught to increase their sensitivity to an infant’s needs and signals, this increases the development of the child’s attachment security,[2] there are no conclusive empirical efficacy studies on Sears attachment parenting.

I believe being a stay-at-home mom creates the best foundation for growth and creativity and builds a happy, secure child. In fact, when I volunteered in his class during his elementary school years, I could pick out every child who had a stay-at-home mom.

They were able to stay on task longer, and were not clingy because they received the appropriate healthy unconditional love from their parents, not a series of paid strangers.

I believe this is the best way and Nature’s Way to raise a child; however, it is kind of a shame that we have gone so far astray from our natural bond with our children that we have to be educated about how to nurture a beneficial connection.

Sad.

My son ended nursing right around his first birthday. I wasn’t ready, but it was his decision,  his time.

I think it reveals his exceptional level of confidence that he was able to instinctively know that it was time to grow as autonomous individual.

But…I win the prize for limitless attachment parenting. Advanced AP, as it were.

When my son was planning his (university) junior year abroad to Germany, I told him I would come and visit him.

Being a healthy, confident, secure (snotty teenager) child, he asked me if I would come and visit him if he changed his mind and went to Japan for his year abroad.

Of course, I replied.

He then asked me how far away would he have to go so that I would NOT visit him (i.e. check up on him) to which I responded:

“The umbilical cord is like a rubber band; it can stretch — but never break — and there isn’t anywhere on earth that you possibly go to get that far away from me.”

And to make sure he understood exactly what I meant and to indelibly inscribe it in his Muscle_RubberBand2brain, I pantomimed the action of stretching a rubber band between my two hands, and then mimicked the breaking of a stick.

And I have science to back me up in the article, Babies Never Leave You, or at Least Their Cells Don’t. (Jezebel)

You might think that once you give birth to a child that they’re no longer a part of you physically—except, of course, for the complete control they retain over your heart and mind.

Well, think again, because it turns out that during pregnancy some of their cells scatter in your body and stay there for years, maybe even forever.

So they are literally a part of us, like FOREVER.

It’s hard to decide whether that is magical or deeply creepy. While it’s been known for a while that fetal cells migrate into a mother’s body during pregnancy, it hasn’t really been understood what types of cells stick around and what they do.

Diana Bianchi, Executive Director of the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center, and her colleagues have done a new study that sheds some light on what exactly is happening during this little alien invasion.

How much do you want to bet that they’ll eventually discover that it’s those crafty little cells that allow kids to exert control over their moms for life.

Need a hug? A ride to the mall? Some money?

Just activate your sleeper cells and suddenly your mother is physically incapable of resisting you.

See? Nature knows what it’s doing and is always looking out for you.

Baby’s Cells Mix and Mingle with Pregnant Mom’s [Live Science]
Postscript: There is a really funny AbFab episode in which Eddy talks about her son, Serge, the same way I did in real life. I watched this years after my comments, and I could not. stop. laughing. Art imitating life?