I can’t believe, as I get older, how quickly time seems to go by.
Take today, for example.
I can’t believe that my eldest child is nearly ten. I can’t believe that it’s almost Christmas again. I can’t believe that it’s been a whole month since I last had to reach for the Tampax…oh, hang on. It’s not.
With the help of a lovely, gentle book I found online, I am currently preparing my daughter for the wonderful possibilities
indignities and inconveniences that lie ahead of her courtesy of her anatomy. And yet, at the same time after two and a half decades of uneasy co-existence, however (wanting my period to come, wanting it not to come), there doesn’t seem to be any such guide for me as I start the long and probably painful break-up with my own menstrual cycle.
It’s not the menopause, not yet, not really. It’s more a sense that my body knows what’s coming and is trying to make hay while the oestrogen shines, with all the subtlety of a child wanting the teacher to pick them to take the register back. I can see why, in the days before the Pill and the nigh-on standard issue vasectomy after the nigh-on standard issue 2.4 children, “change of life babies” were such a thing. No wonder that women got caught out when our bodies suddenly go from being fertile every four weeks or so to managing it almost twice a month. It’s hard enough to keep track of it all with an iPhone. It must have been murder when there was only the moon on hand
It’s a funny kind of feeling, having your body so thoroughly at odds with your mind; being broody despite not wanting any more babies. The car alarm went off at 2am yesterday, and I was destroyed with sleep deprivation for the whole of the rest of the day. The thought of repeating the early years of my children’s lives makes me want to weep, even as I look at their giant shoes and incomprehensible Christmas lists and sigh over the small people whose world I once was. And yet, my reproductive system seems to have been taken over by Mrs Doyle, coaxing and cajoling with a bashful upwards glance that knows already it’s unwelcome. Ah g’wan. G’wan, g’wan, g’wan.
The pieces that have made up my life over the last twenty years or so: study, marriage, career, children – each one could have been interchanged with any other and brought me out in a broadly similar position to the one I’m in today. It’s easy, from the vantage point of a happy 40, to look back and think that I would have remained constant. And yet, now, I’m on the cusp of losing something I always knew I was expected to do, then that I was afraid to do, then that I almost gloried in the ability to do, I wonder where I was amongst it all. I wonder who I’ll be after.
And I’ll cling for dear life to the calendar in the mean time.