Monthly Archives: June 2011

If 40 is the new 30, then my 44 is really 34 and, well, I’m too young for this

For the record, I’m writing this under duress. I’m not even sure what I’m about to say is true. In truth, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and I’m sure that what I’ve been experiencing is a combination of the 25 pounds I need to lose and the mugginess of summer.

If it’s not, well, there’s just one thing to say.

Hot flashes suck.

I started to notice the sensation about two or three months ago at various points in the day, but never without a plausible explanation: the ones that come as I get ready in the morning are due to the high-wattage vanity lights in the bathroom; those that happen late afternoon are usually after I take the dogs out; and some that happen at work are generally when I get “that 2:30 feeling” of drowsiness (regardless of the time) and as I start to snap out of it I’m usually flush.

Then I noticed I started getting them at times when there wasn’t much of an explanation: when I was sitting on the sofa watching television, standing in the kitchen making supper, sitting wide-eyed and at full alert during a meeting at work.

It was during one of those meetings (I’m not always wide-eyed, but was at that one) that the realization was shoved at me. Literally.

Our regular weekly meeting is held in a conference room known for its chilled environment. We all generally bring sweaters or prepare ourselves with hot coffee before going in. This particular day a few weeks ago, I didn’t get cold. In fact, I started to feel sweat beading up around my scalp and along my hairline, my cheeks started to heat up and suddenly I was HOT.

I turned to a co-worker, as I was wiping my brow, and commented about how warm the typically cool room was that day.

Co-worker: It’s not warm. I’m cold.

Me: Are you kidding? I’m sweating!

Co-worker: I see that. Why are you so hot?

Me: I don’t know!

Co-worker (with that “a-HA!” look in her eyes): Ooohhhhh, how old are you? You might be flashing.


I was devastated. Crushed. Pissed off.

I’m too young for this, right? I just turned 44, and the 40s are the new 30s, and 30 is much too young to be perimenopausal. Right? Right??

Apparently not. Now I’m noticing them all the time – when playing cards with friends the other night I had to pull my hair up because I was getting so hot, while sitting in the office, even laying in bed on the brink of sleep. I was all nice and cozy, just getting ready to drift when suddenly the blankets became unbearably hot and I started kicking – seriously – to get them off.

This is going to be a loooooong preview phase.

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Somewhere between June Cleaver and Roseanne Barr

I’m that Mom.

You know the one – the Mom that gets scorned because her kids swear, have shaggy hair, wear inappropriate clothing and think for themselves.

Sue me.

Here’s the thing: I want to raise my kids, I am raising my kids, to be ready to spread their wings when the time is right. I don’t want to shelter them from the world, give them unrealistic rules that will leave them flailing when they’re out on their own or leave them to be surprised when situations that could have been addressed eventually arise.

When I overheard my son, then 12, cussing up a storm outside with some friends I called him in to talk about it. He looked so scared, he knew he’d been busted. But rather than yell at him or scold him for using the same words I know he’s heard both me and his father use, I talked to him. I told him I knew I’d be naive telling him not to swear; I remember my brother (and me, actually) when we were 12 – we’d say words to say them just because they made us “cool.” I also told him, however, that I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want to get calls from his friends’ parents because of it and I didn’t want to get called to the school.

Too lenient? Maybe. But one day a few years later I was driving him and one of his friends home from football practice and the friend started talking about what a bitch so-and-so was. Before he could finish or I could say anything, Justin turned to him and said, “Dude, you gotta stop. She WILL stop the car and make you walk home.”

I just smiled.

My kids and  I talk about alcohol and drugs and sex and dating – in a way that they know they can come to me if they have questions. I’ve told them both I don’t want them drinking but more than that I don’t want them drinking and driving or with someone who has been drinking and driving. I’ve assured them that if they find themselves having had something to drink they can call me and I will come get them, no yelling involved, we’ll just talk the next morning.

We’ll talk … over a nice greasy breakfast of eggs and bacon and sausage and super greasy hashbrowns. And they’ll have to eat every bite.

I’m the mom who, when my daughter bought a pair of short shorts (not too short – I made her do the bend-over test so I couldn’t see cheek, or more) and then said someday she’d be able to buy some heels to go with them, told her that sure, that would be a good idea, and I’d drive her to the street corner to market her wares. (A young father walking with two young girls chuckled when he heard me say that, until I looked at his daughters, smiled and said, “You think it’s funny now. Just wait.”)

Don’t get me wrong – I’m also the mom who home-bakes treats for school, prefers homemade mashed potatoes to those in the box and believes a home-cooked meal does not mean adding hamburger to a box of noodles and sauce mix marketed by a talking glove.

I make it to as many of my kids’ events as possible, and am sure to let them know why I can’t make it when that’s the case.

My kids and I are friends. We get along, we go out to dinner, we spend time together. We tell jokes, watch inappropriately funny movies like “Hangover” and “Step Brothers” and compare music notes.

But they also know I’m The Mom. They know the rules and still respect them. They call to let me know when they’ve reached their destination, they haven’t ever broken curfew. They don’t steal, do drugs or disrespect their elders. I’m not naive – I know full well what they’re capable of and that they have misbehaved and gotten into trouble. I also know, though, that it could certainly be a lot worse.

So yeah – I’m that mom. You may not think much of it now, but you’ll thank me later.

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Who put that scale there??

I put it off for years, convincing myself that I didn’t really need one, that isn’t what it’s all about and it’s just going to make me miserable.

Then last week, in a fit of poor judgment, I did it.

I bought a bathroom scale.

It wasn’t an easy purchase. Oh no – I held that box, turned it over and over, hoping to find a disclaimer: “Objects placed on this scale are smaller than the numbers say. Really. A lot smaller.” Finding none, I put it in my cart and continued with my shopping.

It’s amazing, being able to buy something like that at the same place you buy your groceries. That scale mocked me through the entire shopping trip. Just as I was about to turn my cart down the frozen foods section for my favorite cup of Ben & Jerry’s, I swear that scale turned on from inside the box and started beeping. When I went down the chip aisle, the box started to vibrate, and as I neared the deli the scale leapt from the front basket of my cart into the back.

Instead of going home with a pint of ice cream, a back of tortilla chips and a scale, I walked through the door with a flat of water, three different kinds of fruits and cucumbers and zucchini for slicing.

Of course, the scale couldn’t be happy with altering my eating habits, ohhhh, no. It sat on my couch – still in the box – just staring at me with that beady little number window for a full night, daring me to open it and step on.

I held out and showed that damned scale – it had to sit there on my couch, by itself, all night before I opened the box and put the scale in its new home on my bathroom floor.

And it mocked me even more.

I wish I’d known when I picked it up at the store that this digital scale, when it’s turning on and warming up, has three little circles that rotate around each other – kind of like a cute little digital laugh.

“You’re going to step on me and expect to be happy but you won’t be!” I could almost hear the childish voice singing, taunting me. Daring me to step on and be disappointed.

So I stepped on that scale the second day. And the third. And then the fourth. I never did see the numbers I wanted to see.

Maybe I should return it for “disappointing results.”

If only I could find that damned box …

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You never really know just how small it is …

Life sometimes has a way of getting away from you, and it’s only when you stop and really consider things that you realize just what’s happening here.

Last night was a normal night by almost anyone’s standards except mine; having been entrenched in writing/ghostwriting books for the last two and a half years, having a night that I didn’t leave work to go to a second job or to come home to write was rare. But I’m at the end of Book No. 3 and am ready to take the summer off – so I kicked it off last night by taking a nice two-mile walk with some very good friends.

Sounds normal, right?

As I got to thinking about it later last night, the obscurity of it all really began to hit me: I have lived in North Liberty for right at a year (effective June 5) and the three ladies I walked with all live within 3 blocks of me.

And I’ve known all of them for nearly 20 years each, with exactly none of the relationships starting in North Liberty or Johnson County or even eastern Iowa.

There was Cara, my friend/neighbor/cousin who has been a part of my life for all of hers (she’s younger – sigh) who, thanks the the circumstances of life, lives in the apartment across the hall from mine. She’s been my cousin all her life and my friend for almost as long, despite the fact that when you’re young a five-year age difference can seem monumental. We were close as kids because our family as a whole is close, but as we got older we got closer because of who we are individually, outside of the family.

Then there was Meredith, who job-shadowed me when I was still quite young in my journalism career and she was just quiet young – starting high school and trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She re-enetered my life a few (OK, more than a few) years later after college when she and her now-husband joined the staff of the newspaper at which she once shadowed me in Fort Dodge. Interestingly enough, she and Scott then left for job in St. Joseph, Mo., (coincidentally where I spent a good chunk of my high school years) only to come to The Gazette in Cedar Rapids about two or three years before I left. They found a house in North Liberty right away, so when I moved here it was my time to follow her.

Finally there was Meg, a woman who came into my life back in February 1992 when she came to the Fort Dodge newspaper and I was 6 months pregnant. We didn’t get along at all at first – she seemed to storm into the newsroom with what I first thought was cockiness but now see as confidence (there IS a difference) that I thought too brazen (but I think I also secretly envied). Somehow we became close friends and, as most of my Fort Dodge coworkers did, she left – for the East. First Delaware, then New York. We saw each other a handful of times but talked several times a year, always picking up conversations and though we’d just talked the night before. She was out east for 16 years and decided it was time to come home. She’s starting her own consulting business and could go anywhere – so she came to North Liberty.

None of these other women knew each other before a few weeks ago, and Meredith just met everyone last night. But it didn’t stop us from walking and talking and carrying on like we were all lifelong friends.

Interesting how life works sometimes.




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