Monday, June 23, 2008

Tequila or hormone-replacement therapy

It’s now 166 days since I’ve gotten my period. Six months have gone by and nothing. I get symptoms some months with sore boobs and even cramping where I think I’m going to get “it” and then the symptoms subside.

I’m 42 and my mother explained that she was completely finished by 46, but, now nearing 69, she’s a bit of a revisionist. My sister is older at 48 and hasn’t really missed a whole one yet or even had a hot flash. Those come…oh boy! in an all out blitz, like being called on by a teacher and you don’t know the answer and flush with that heat surge while your face turns red with purple spots and everyone’s staring at you. It’s the same. And headaches. I’ve had two really, really bad headaches this month where I thought a creature would explode out of my temple like the stomach scene from “Alien.”

I’m moody, cranky, bloated, gain weight just looking at food, and some smell oozes out of my every pore. I don’t smell like me anymore, I smell like Shaquele O’Neil’s dirty socks, oh…and I cry…A LOT. I cry because the garbage bag will not come loose from the stupid, cylindrical fancy silver can my kids got me last year for Mother’s Day ‘cause for once I wanted the really expensive, top-of-the-line something in our house from Bed, Bath and Beyond—but it’s a pain in my butt because you can never get the bag out once it’s full. I pull and rip and curse and wrap my legs around the inner plastic container while yanking on the bag trying to claw it out without spilling the garbage—coffee grains and all—onto the floor.

I cry when the kids are due home at 3:30 and I’ve only gotten two things done out the 500 pressing items on my list and tomorrow 200 more will be added. I cry because this summer it’s camp mommy and with the three of them (9, 8 and 6) home all day, in the blazing sun at the community pool or the beach and hormones raging, I’m going to fry and scream at strangers or seagulls who get too close to me.

When I mentioned to a friend of mine what I’m going through, (the high and low mood swings, the smell), she told me a story about her aunt.

Apparently in the early 70’s when her aunt was huffing and puffing her way through menopause and being blue, her aunt’s male doctor said, “get a job.” The scary thing is, she did, and swears she felt wonderful once she busied herself keeping her mind occupied. Me, as a freelance writer, I have six jobs going at once, only two hands, feel like crap and my nerves are shot. I’m not sure what’s happening to me.

I went to my female ob/gyn to get checked and am awaiting the results of blood, thyroid, pap and sonogram tests. Apparently simple blood tests can evaluate the hormone levels and tell if I am indeed in menopause at age 42. My doctor said we’d talk about my taking hormone replacement therapy.

Let me know if you or anyone you know has been on this? E-mail at or post a comment. After all the breast cancer scares and other negative press, I’m not sure I want to take estrogen. But, it would help even things out a bit…that, or a bottle of Tequila.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


Miriam the Medium, author, Rochelle Jewel Shapiro, (a wonderful writer & new friend), tagged me to contribute a review of an older book that isn't widely read anymore or a recent book that's slipped beneath the rador, and post it on my blog on Friday. This unique, creative project was launched by writer, Patti Abbot,, and I'm flattered to participate.

Since I'm posting this review on, I have selected a children's title that recently came to my attention.

Had I not become a mother, I would never have had the pleasure of discovering this little gem of a book. So, I have Seth, my son, to thank for this, among other things.

Being the truck-loving "all boy" that he is, his nighttime story reading preference is almost always something related to firemen, rescue vehicles, construction, etc. However, The Gift of Nothing is a title that I've managed to sneak in to our reading repetoire, and I truly appreciate the message of this small tale with a lot of heart.

By Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown and Company, 2006), whose website is, it delightfully tells the story of Mooch the cat and Earl the dog. Mooch wants to give his best friend, Earl, a gift, and can't decide what to get him. The more and more Mooch thought, he asked himself, "What do you get someone who has everything?" He decides he will give him "the gift of nothing." "But in this world filled with so many somethings, where could he find nothing?" After a failed attempt at shopping and a lot of frustration, Mooch gets a big box, ties it with a ribbon, and puts nothing in it. He presents it to Earl who says, "There's nothing in here." To which Mooch replies,"Yesh! Nothing.....but me and you."

They hug each other, as best friends do, and "Mooch and Earl just stayed still and enjoyed nothing and everything." (as they looked out the window of Earl's home admiring the snowy, wintery outdoors, the darkened sky and moon, relishing in their friendship and the wonder of nature during holiday season.)

I never get tired of this book, and I hope you will join me in teaching your children that in this world of excess, less is more, and pleasure can come from many sources.

I now tag Mary Ellen Walsh, freelance writer and long time friend/former co-worker, to present her forgotten book of choice. For details on her background, visit

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Seth's pre-K graduation was today, and it was close to being a disaster.

We arrived early, with my dad and Marc's mom in tow, since parking is super hard by the school, and we wanted to get a prime view for the event.

Seth was totally thrilled to see us, and was excited in general about the festivities.

More and more people arrived, and the teachers prepared. The children, Seth's fellow classmates, were asked to take their seats. All did, but Seth.

He clung to my neck with a mighty grip and wouldn't let go. He refused to take his place and started to cry. I lifted him and tried to place him in his chair, and he wouldn't loosen his gorilla-like grip.

One of the teaching aides came over and took him from me, and let him sit on her lap. He didn't love that, but went along with it, and eventually sat in his seat. But, he refused to sing any of the songs. Wouldn't smile. Made some small hand gestures to the music,as did the other kids. But, all without any enthusiasm.

I was stunned, and I thought Marc was going to totally lose it. He was already running through his mind ways to punish him back home.

Seth was not only not smiling but he looked like he was in a daze. This glassy eyed, teary look.

I spoke to his teacher afterwards who said that maybe he got scared by all the people there.

Another person from the school offered the perspective that perhaps Seth, who always enjoys being the center of attention, decided he'd get more focus by being the one child who looks miserable.

Hmmmm....would he actually think that?! I'm not so sure.

My dad and Marc's mom felt awful, and it put a total damper on the whole experience. Marc was in charge of video taping it, and it almost felt like we shouldn't bother. Who wants to remember the occasion as such a downer?!

His teacher said we shouldn't make too much of it, as sometimes kids get intimated or whatever. A mom we are friendly with offered that her daughter once got shellshocked on stage during a school performance, and stood we should grin 'n bear it, basically.

But, should we really?

Marc & I feel that we need to teach Seth that this was totally unacceptable.

So....he will have no dessert, pizza, or soft drinks for a week...and we'll see how this goes.

In the meantime, what should have been joyous and maybe even emotional, was riddled with anger, angst and disappointment. We were so looking forward.

Oh well...I guess it's just part of the unpredictability of our kids and the parenting experience. Best to let go of expectations. But, I still can't help but be letdown, and happy in a sense that this day will pass.

Did that every happen to you? When you were so looking forward to something with your child and it turned out to be a total bust for reasons you may never understand?

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Friday, June 13, 2008

GUEST BLOG: A "LATER" DAD'S PERSPECTIVE (in time for Father's Day)

By Grigoriy Lerman
(husband to Amy Wall Lerman, Northern NJ Motherhood Later Chapter Head)

“Would you write a little something about being a stay-at-home dad?”

I was loading baby bottles into the dishwasher at the time and looked up in confusion for a few seconds and asked her to repeat the question.

“Would you write a little something about being a stay-at-home dad?”

My wife was clearly talking to me.

A stay-at-home dad? But I never thought that term applied to me. Am I a stay-at-home dad? Wait! I'm 40 years old. I've already had one career and am working on another.

I guess I thought I was at home studying for my CPA exams and running a small (very small) business on the side. And oh yes, there’s this baby boy I take care of as well. I do all that from home and she commutes to New York City every day. I guess the term does apply to me. It was not a conscious decision for me to stay home with our 6 months old son; it just kind of worked out that way.

What can I write about? What about the frustration I feel when I’m desperately trying to finish something before Evan starts crying and I have to drop everything and go feed him? Or the pain I feel when he is crying and no matter what I do I just cannot seem to make him feel better? Every parent has had those moments so what’s so unique about my situation?

I was thinking about this as I strapped Evan into his car seat one sweltering afternoon. He was cranky and refusing to take his afternoon nap and I had a home project to complete. We had just bought a home theater system and I wanted to find some small wooden shelves to place the speakers on in order to get that full surround sound effect. Nothing like a little father-and-son adventure as a means of distraction.

Before she ran out for her bus to work that morning, my wife suggested I check out Michael’s, “they have shelves there – I’ve seen them.”

The dreaded Michael’s: with its racks of Styrofoam balls, reams of ribbon and aisles of plastic orchids. She’d dragged me in there before. This does not sound like quite the adventure I had in mind. Oh, but if you are a man with a “Baby Bjorn” strapped to your chest, venturing into this kind of place very much can be. As soon as I walked into the store I noticed that we were not only adventurers - we were pioneers. My 6 month old son and I were the only 2 “men” in the place. Women of all ages were browsing through aisles of “stuff” - but there was not a man in sight.

Move forth and conquer, I thought, and a few minutes later I was engrossed with some small pieces of wood I found in the paint-it-yourself bird house section. That’s when I saw him. Another man had just walked into the store, but he was not alone and was clearly not there by his own will. He was trailing two women who had become quite involved with a selection of buttons and the guy was clearly bored. For a brief moment our eyes met and then he turned away. I could swear I saw a smirk. “What kind of a self-respecting man goes into Michael’s by his own choice?” he seemed to be asking. A wave of self-consciousness hit me like a truck.

In the next aisle Evan cooed and reached for a jar of bright red paint and I regained my self-control. So what if I am at home during the day with my son and shopping at Michaels? If I am a stay-at-home dad I will be the best stay-at-home dad I can be and I will be proud of it. By the time I found exactly what I needed, I had completely regained my confidence. After paying the store clerk I asked for a copy of their latest promotional flyer she had lying by her register. I will be back.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Homemakers unite

So I am a little slow in getting a second post here at this fabulous blog. Tonight, even though I am tired, I decided it was do or die. Write or fall asleep, but no more delays. Since my last post I jumped into the conflicted world of full-time-outside-the-home working mommy...and I have to say I don't feel so successful. It's with a bit of mixed emotion that I send my two and half year old daughter to school everyday. Before this job she went only half day in the afternoon (and before that it was me or daddy or grammie watching her). We used to have a leisurely morning together and I greatly miss our time with each other. Of course, the second piece of that idyllic picture is that I got very little done in the way of personal work and spent much of my day cleaning and handling details that created a lifestyle that my family enjoyed. But, I felt a great discomfort about not having any earned income. Homemaker, though essential, is an invisible job that ranks pretty low in our business-centered society. Personally, I am enamored with the word "homemaker" and would really like to bring it back in vogue. I wonder if I have actually met a real homemaker from the old school tradition. Maybe my great Aunt Charlie, who after fifty years of cooking for my uncle, told me once in private that she was kind of tired of it...something to consider when thinking about the burnout factor for homemakers.

My husband's sister sends us the paper from the small town where they grew up. It could be anywhere in middle America. In a recent issue the editor wrote about the passing of a woman from the community...a homemaker. His description of that profession is what I try to attain and what Martha Stewart is marketing. A sense of purpose for the small details that make a lifestyle. The editor described one component of a homemaker as someone who invited a guest to dinner, then remembered to served that guest his or her favorite meal. What nicety...what a level of thoughtfulness...and yet who has time for such detail, because at this point, as a society, this kind of detail is no longer valued in the market place. And yet we crave it. If we didn't, the Martha Stewarts of the world would be out of business. Herein lies the conflict. I want both: bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. This is an impossible task. So instead, I join the ranks of modern working mothers, women attempting to juggle everything: self, family, work, career development, child rearing and homemaking. Has feminism really gotten us, me what I want? Inside my conflicted self it doesn't feel like it.

What is the next wave and how can I ride it?