Sunday, January 23, 2011

Middle-aged women rock!

The only evidence that yesterday I had ten raucous, riotous middle-aged women in my backyard are the six empty champagne bottles and assorted dip and cracker packaging (and chilli cheese - whoever invented that should be knighted). But I swear their combined warmth and wisdom has created a kind of energy that still fizzes. Like power.

As for the subject matter - well, if someone had told me a few years ago that I would willingly spend over four hours talking about menopause, I would have confiscated their car-keys. Or sidled away surreptitiously. I mean - menopause? How interesting can it be? Well, as it turns out, when you throw the experiences of ten women into the pot, add some champagne (and chilli cheese) for flavour, and then give the whole dang lot a good stir - very bloody interesting. Hot flashes, night sweats, extraenous body hair, hormone replacement, fire-cracker sex (you know who you are!), itchy-creepy-crawly skin, uterine scrapings [insert instinctive flinch], even nether regions that forget their place. The latter convincing me that pelvic floor exercises must become part of my daily routine - either that or perhaps a few hours spent standing on my head each evening.

I also now know more about HRT than my doctor was able to impart, as well as what happens when you go camping in the middle of nowhere, thinking you are post-menopausal only to find out, that first evening, that you most definitely, absolutely, 100%, are not.

I'm having too much fun for this to feel like work but I'm certainly not complaining (I'll save that for if the pelvic floor exercises don't work). And as we disbanded yesterday, everyone was vowing to do it again, catch up more frequently, talk about this sort of stuff and lace it with humour, companionship and champagne. But I know, we all know, that life will get in the way and we - ourselves - will slide back down the list of priorities. Though it shouldn't be that way. We need to talk. Back in the fifties and sixties this was recognised when consciousness raising became popular for women, where they would meet in groups and look at 'norms' (like lower wages, not being able to get a bank loan etc) and recognise them as part of a discriminatory pattern. Comparing experiences and drawing strength from others. We need to do the same, more frequently, because when it comes to the more challenging aspects of midlife, like menopause, we are our own best resource. "There is no greater power in the world," said Margaret Mead, "than the zest of a middle-age woman." Which makes me feel a little like a lemon but I get her point. Middle-age women rock.