The Battle Of The Hormones – When Puberty & The Menopause Collide

The Battle Of The Hormones – When Puberty & The Menopause Collide

Parenting teenagers is an emotional rollercoaster.  Throw puberty and the menopause into the mix and you have a toxic cocktail of hormones which is guaranteed to involve a lot of tears, tantrums and door slamming.

There is something quite cruel about the twist of fate that places the two biggest rites of passage in a woman’s life side by side simultaneously.

The optimistic stance is of course that both phases are about new beginnings. Adolescence and midlife are there to be embraced with equal gusto - or at least so we are led to believe.

The flip side, however, is that these two symbolic chapters in a woman’s life are marked by puberty and the menopause. The former with its emphasis on growing up and blossoming and the latter with its concurrent focus on growing old and ageing. They mark the beginning and end of an era and each comes with its own challenges.

I speak from a position of experience as such has been the scenario in our house for the last five years as my daughter and I hit puberty and the peri-menopause simultaneously, transforming our home into a veritable maelstrom of hormones.

Wails of “It’s not fair!” and “Leave me alone!” from my daughter and I were largely indistinguishable and invariably my husband and son found themselves caught in the crossfire, as the collision of her rising hormones and my falling ones proved to be quite explosive.

”Why are you so mean to me?” was the regular plea from my daughter.

“Why are you so rude?” was mine.

Despite our lives essentially playing out in reverse, the bald facts were that aside from the obvious factors of our age and appearance there was little to distinguish between us emotionally. We were both equally irrational, anxious, tearful and irritable.

My daughter was locked in a teenage battle with her changing body shape, acne, growing pains and fatigue and I was locked in a midlife one with my wrinkles, aching joints, expanding midriff, forgetfulness and exhaustion.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. There was a lot of humour too. I am grateful for the close bond we share and invariably, as is the way with all good girl battles, we would find ourselves at the end laughing and commiserating with each other about the trials and tribulations of being a woman.

In hindsight our familial tendency to communicate saved our household. It is common for parents to bemoan the withdrawal of their teens as they pass through puberty but that has not been our experience with either our son or our daughter. If anything, we found we talked even more.

My teens saw me as the imperfect human we can all be sometimes. Not everyone agrees, but I think it is important for us to acknowledge our own weaknesses to our children and for them to see that it’s ok to not be fine all the time.

After all, life isn’t always a bed of roses, it comes with its fair share of knocks. The important part is to use those knocks to learn and move forward.

Change is never easy and the journey associated with puberty and menopause is no exception. Each forces you to think about new beginnings but of course no foray into a new lifestage is complete without at least a cursory nod of recognition to what lies at the end.

For me the emphasis on the start and the end of a journey was never more prevalent than when I received a shock cancer diagnosis over Christmas.

As my daughter matured and embraced all that the next phase of life as a young woman had to offer, my newfound positivity and enthusiasm for the dawn of midlife suddenly seemed futile as the rug was pulled from beneath my feet.

My emotions shifted somewhat. It might not have been easy getting to this midlife point but I had done it, I had turned a corner and with the help of HRT was feeling pretty good about myself and what lay ahead.

Wails of “It’s not fair!” reverberated around our household walls once more.

Fear of course is the presiding emotion in these situations, but as a parent it is more for your children. My son was at University, the hard work with him was complete. My daughter, however, still had a way to go.

We had shared so much, she and I. I became scared for her. Scared that she would not have anyone to guide her through the final phase of her journey into adulthood. Scared that she would be alone on all the future transitions in a woman’s life.

Every girl needs a mentor, a female role model and whilst I might have been an irrational one at times I hoped that, I was a good one.

I rallied my closest girlfriends, I talked to them about her, shared her passions, her fears, her idiosyncrasies, my hopes and dreams for her future and asked them to promise to look out for her should everything go tits up. After all there is only so much an older brother and father can help with.

Six months on and there is light at the end of my tunnel once more. I have endured radical gynaecological surgery, experienced the harsh reality of a surgical menopause and been given hope for the future once more, if only in quarterly instalments.

With every cloud there is a silver lining and ironically mine is that my family feel I have emerged a more mellow version of my former self. It’s good to know that God has a sense of humour too!

After years of suffering at the hands of my yo-yoing hormones, I am starting from a position of zero and with the help of HRT not only combatting a new range of menopausal symptoms, but also putting in to place the building blocks that I hope will carry me through the next stage of my midlife journey and guide my daughter onto hers.

 

Editor’s Note: This article was first published as a guest post on www.hotflush.info

 

When Puberty & The Menopause Collide

 

 

Mum Muddling Through

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27 Comments

  1. October 18, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    Wonderfully observed article Jo (as always) and thanks to you I have now discovered the Hot Flush website so that’s an added bonus. This is a scenario being played out in thousands of households up and down the country but one that is seldom talked about. As a Mum of three teen and young adult daughters I know exactly how potent the mix of hormones can be. Absolutely loved the way you described it as your lives being played out in reverse – what a fab description! Fantastic news about your health – long may it continue xxx #TweensTeensBeyond

  2. October 16, 2018 / 2:05 pm

    I am so glad to hear there is a light at the end of your tunnel! Having two boys I can’t speak to the changing of womanhood but I can imagine. I’m just so glad that you and your daughter are close! #TweensTeensBeyond
    Michelle Kellogg recently posted…Mental Health Check: Mental Health WeekMy Profile

  3. October 15, 2018 / 8:41 am

    As the mother of 4 boys I’ve not had to go through this, although I’m sure there were issues my husband found hard, like everyone exerting themselves as the alpha male. As they’ve all left home now, my kids won’t be around to share (be on the receiving end) when I go though the menopause, something my husband has been suggesting for the past 19 years lol. #tweensteensbeyond
    chickenruby recently posted…What are they building now in Dubai? My Sunday Photo.My Profile

  4. October 10, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    I was so pleased to hear that there is a light at the end of the tunnel re: your cancer journey! All the best for continued good health and recovery.

    It is amazing/ironic/cruel that daughters and mothers endure puberty and menopause at about the same time nowadays. I don’t know how my mom did it with *3* girls within 5 years of each other. So far, my daughter and I are doing okay. But hormones are so hard on us women, much more so than on the men. I do cry Not Fair!
    Katy recently posted…Why Disney World is Tops for TeensMy Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      October 11, 2018 / 8:30 am

      Thank you Katy, if anything the whole scenario has brought us closer together. We fight, we laugh and sometimes we cry but there is always a hug at the end. Thanks for commenting. x

  5. October 8, 2018 / 12:02 pm

    Really interesting post and I wasn’t expecting the twist about your own ill-health. It’s like that in our house and always frustrates me that my daughter hit puberty early – just to make sure it synced with my menopause! We get by as she’s still very sweet, at just 11 – and because we have a very similar sense of humour, but your story does put the arguing in perspective #tweensteensbeyond
    Beth T recently posted…My year of living clotheslesslyMy Profile

    • Jo
      Author
      October 11, 2018 / 8:33 am

      Oh Beth welcome to the club. Arguments are part of life’s rich tapestry and I am always stunned by those who say they never argue. Extraordinary even in normal circumstances but impossible for sure when hormones get involved. I am lucky we have a great relationship and this scenario has only helped to strengthen that even further. Good luck on the rest of your journey. x

  6. October 5, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    Ha! there’s another advantage of having daughters early (at 21), then late (39) – we all got chance to be the sole drama queen in the family 🙂 This year muct have been the most awful time for you and your family. Hope you can now look forward to the future xxx #tweenteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 10:22 am

      Oh Mary good timing indeed and of course you are right no competition for the title of drama queen. Perfect. I am looking forward to a less dramatic Christmas this year for sure. x

  7. October 5, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    Is it wrong that I was feeling sorry for the males in the household as I read this? I joke, but I know that when my wife and the teenager were both getting their periods a the same time they had a tendency to lash out at each other pretty fiercely. I’m glad that you can look back now with some humor, and look forward to maybe doing the same eventually #TTB

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 10:25 am

      Ha ha no not at all Jeremy! In fact I put it in deliberately for the male readers and because in all honesty I felt sorry for them too. They coped admirably of course and learnt the value of keeping quiet.

  8. October 5, 2018 / 2:10 pm

    I think in our household it’s not going to quite line up, which probably means we’ll be spreading it out over more years. I hate the thought of not being there to help them through this stage and further ones. I had a health scare a few years ago that put me in hospital. I no longer take it all for granted. Smiling at you sitting your best girl friends down. I bet that did help you. #teensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 10:29 am

      The fear of not being around for them must be the worst for any parent, I suppose in a way I feel blessed that I have got so far as there are so many affected by illness with much younger children and that must be agonising. I have also found though that it is best not to think about it too much. Life must go on in whatever guise that takes and for however long that is. The secret is to seize each moment and make no room for regrets. I hope all is well with you and lovely to have you join us again. x

  9. October 5, 2018 / 10:53 am

    I had never thought about the fact that so many mums must be dealing with menopausal fluctuations whilst dealing with those of their daughters in puberty which must make for a much more tumultuous time! I hope the HRT will help you find a little more balance xx

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 10:30 am

      You will remember this in a few years to come and nod in recognition. HRT is a godsend! Cannot sing its praises highly enough. x

  10. October 4, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    Oh my hormones are out of control and I’ve suddenly become spotty! I could be a teenager right now. Perhaps I am perimenopausal. Lots of food for thought here. Thanks for sharing #coolmumclub

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 10:32 am

      Unfortunately it is a bit like going through puberty again. Hope your journey is smooth. x

  11. October 4, 2018 / 2:03 pm

    What a fantastic post and journey!

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 10:33 am

      Thank you Claire for your lovely comment. There has to be humour in the bad stuff. Thanks for reading.

  12. October 4, 2018 / 3:34 am

    I was nodding away when I was reading this, Jo. So much I could relate to. Don’t have daughters but having a teen and an almost teen with my own midlife hormones is driving all of us nuts in the family. There are days when we have shouting matches and others when we are all calm. The younger boy talks way too much, just yaps and yaps and in the evening after an entire day’s work and household chores, I crave silence. 🙂 Loved reading the post and happy to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel here.

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 10:36 am

      Rachna boys’ raging hormones are just as tough to deal with and although I don’t mention it in this piece my run-ins with my son were lively too but just not as animated. They are argumentative but not emotional and weepy. That doesn’t make it any easier though. I can sympathise with your scenario. Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment.

  13. October 2, 2018 / 6:37 pm

    How did I miss this fabulous post, Jo! Love it and so true. I often think we deal with teenagers and aging parents if our own and I’d never thought about the hormones (or lack of them) to hit. But bam! There it was…the dreaded perimenopause. I’m not quite in menopause but could really relate to this post. Thanks for sharing. #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 11:26 am

      Ah thank you Sophie glad you liked it and could relate to it. x

  14. October 2, 2018 / 1:51 pm

    Fantastic post … what a journey, not just for you and your daughter, but for all the family. So much to take in there, but, as you said, I feel having the lines of communication open all the while has saved the day(s). #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Thanks Enda that means a lot. It is always interesting to hear the male perspective on such a female oriented post. As you say where would we be without those open communication lines? I am convinced it rescues many a family catastrophe.

  15. October 2, 2018 / 11:45 am

    It has never occured to me before that the similar clash in our household is all down to the confluence of unpredictable hormones and life changes. Although I am not hoping for the extremely frightening measures that you had to endure in the past year, I am hoping for change! I guess I’ll just need to be patient and wait a few more years!! I can imagine that if I had been in your situation, my first fears would be for my kids and husband, knowing how a breavement of a close family member is so awful. What a relief for all of you that you have been given a reprieve. #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 11:42 am

      Hormones have a lot to answer for and actually it was my husband who was the first to point out the similarities of our respective journeys. Thanks for your lovely comment Liberty, life has a habit of throwing us curved balls every now and again but as I have learnt it is how we respond that shapes the next step.

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