That used to be the euphemism for menopause — from the Greek word pausis (cessation) and the root men-(month). I always thought it should be called womenopause. But, then I never studied old Greek.
When I was young, it was spoken of in hushed tones, usually to provide a reason for what was perceived as a woman’s irrational behavior. PMS, the term that is, didn’t exist back in those days. (I like the Southern version FTS—Fixin’ to Start. Southern English has such poetry to it.)
When I started going through it, they had come up with a new term: perimenopausal—a less poetic way of saying Fixin’ to Change.
I went to a bookstore (you can already see how times have changed since then) to buy books on menopause. I selected three or four. As I stood in line I contemplated how I would explain to the clerk why I was buying so many books on menopause. I’m buying them for a friend. That’s it. I’m buying them for a friend.
But the clerk didn’t ask me why I was buying so many books on menopause. I’m not even sure she noticed the titles of the books.
It wasn’t that I was ashamed of The Change. I was just kind of freaked out about it. “Your daughter became a woman today,” my mother said to my father the day I started my period. I was 12. I had gotten used to the built in another-cycle-has-completed detector. And if that detector was what marked my entry into womanhood, what would life be like without it? I wondered if I would miss it.
As it turned out, I don’t miss it. Periods seem like a distant memory to me now, almost foreign. And it didn’t undo my having become a woman. I still am that—a woman.
I’m glad The Change isn’t spoken of in hushed terms anymore. At least not in the company I keep and the part of the world I live in. I don’t really mind even referring to menopause as Change, I just think calling it The Change is misleading. It makes it sound so terminal.
Life doesn’t stand still. I think that is what I learned from going through That Change. Change happens. All the time.
I did a major yard clean-up yesterday—or maybe I should call it a yard clear-out. The yard had become very disheveled. I got rid of bushes that had become leggy, volunteers that were confused, and suckers from the Mayten trees. I discovered that the lilac bushes in our yard are heirloom lilacs—a variety one doesn’t find anymore. The lilac tree is even more rare. The crew who worked on the yard had never seen one before.
The yard has a whole new look. It still retains a sense of wildness—but now it’s more like the wild woman who runs with the wolves rather than the confused hippy chick.
Fixin’ to change. That’s what’s happening now. I’m fixin’ to change. I think that’s how change happens. Whatever the event that incites The Change, what follows is Fixin’ to Change. Life changes, then, if we’re smart, we learn where to go with The Change.
The parents of the children taken from them at Sandy Hook are doing that now. Their lives certainly changed. They are meeting with members of Congress to let them know how their lives changed. They are taking action.
“Move on,” is the common formula for how to deal with change. It’s wishful thinking that we can just move on. We can’t. We have to spend the time fixin’ to change.
Perhaps that’s the new cycle I have learned to live with—change, and then fixin’ to change.
It’s all very human.