It’s no fun waking up at, say, three in the morning (there’s a pattern here…hmmm) feeling like the love-child of The Thing and Human Torch. Yes, I felt like a spawn of the Fantastic Four…except my parents were not Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman.
At that hour, my activities were basically 1) push off all the covers, 2) turn on the ceiling fan to circulate air (WHO, pray tell, would turn it off???,) 3) go to the bathroom and look in the mirror to ascertain if I’m having a stroke (do the whole FAST thing…Face, Arms, Speech and Time) or a heart-attack, 4) climb back into bed and decide I’m so thirsty I could drink a whole lake, 5) drink a whole lake, 6) start slowly relaxing back into a sleepy state, 7) realize I have to pee, 8) get up again… By the time the alarm clock rang, I had just gone back to sleep…uncomfortably.
J took one look at me and suppressed a giggle. I was OBVIOUSLY not in the mood for being made fun of by anyone. I will make sure I fawn over him when he gets home from school, I promise…but this morning? No way. No how.
At this point, I am praying for the whole hot-flash thing to be over. Menopause, come to me! Oh, I know that the hormones, and the wrinkles, and the sagging and the aging…and the brittle bones… I’ve had that talk with the doctor. I’ll take the post-menopausal melee over this…with gusto! I am also praying that, during the next Academy Awards ceremony, a high-profile celebrity has a bout of hot flashes that light up our TV sets. I am tired of seeing them look pristine and put-together only to talk about how bad hot flashes are in interviews after the fact (not after the Oscars, just after they hot flashes have gone and happened in the privacy of their own homes.) As I have been asked (on several occasions) by cashiers “ma’am, are you feeling OK?” because I’ve suddenly turned into an ambulance siren and started beaming red and pale, red and pale, while controlling the urge to tear my clothes off, I would really appreciate it if Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock suddenly did the same for all the world to see.
I don’t know you, but I can totally imagine Meryl Streep, Sally Field and Judi Dench having hot flashes. I can see Emma Thompson puffing up her cheeks and fanning herself with a tray she had intended to use for sandwiches. I’m sure when the time comes, Helena Bonham-Carter will embody the hot flash with quite a bit of verve. I can easily picture Julie Walters and Christine Baranski being frustrated and overwhelmed by the feeling of self-combustion that seems to take over. Sophia Loren? I can not just picture her, I hear her rapidly firing words that would not be considered lady-like in mixed company. THAT is what J and Dada and TGG witness. They laugh at it…later. They make fun of me…when it’s over. And they make me laugh at it, too… J will come home and give me a sideways look to determine if my face is purple or if I’m still moody. I somehow find it impossible to imagine Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts, Diane Lane or Queen Elizabeth II outwardly reacting to a hot flash. Oddly enough, I can imagine Queen Elizabeth I doing it, but not Elizabeth II. Noblesse oblige, I guess?
Judging by some of the horror stories I’ve heard, my experience with the hot flashes is pretty much par for the course. It could be a lot worse. I wish Nature would come up with some sort of questionnaire one could fill out to determine what the best action plan is for a more personalized peri-menopausal experience. “Are you available to experience hot flashes at any time of the day, or do you have a preference?” “Are there any factors that make it necessary for menopause symptoms to be present for a shorter period of time?” “On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being not-at-all and 10 being extremely,) how patient are you when NOT experiencing a hot flash?” “How do hot flashes interact with other stress factors in your life, such as your job, your family situation, etc.?” I’m sure we’d all answer to skew the results in our favor, but I think the moms of autistic kids (especially those going through adolescence) would beg (or even pay) for a waiver.
I am keeping the house cool in spite of the colder air surrounding us out of doors. Without the heater running or the A/C turned on, our home is currently at a very steady 68℉. That doesn’t stop me from wearing a cotton nightgown when I don’t have to go anywhere. J looks at me like I’ve lost my mind, especially since I’m the one who put his shorts, sleeveless shirts, and sandals away. There is no way to explain hot flashes to J without freaking him out so I’m not even trying. I’m just saying to him (in that tone parents use and which I’ve always thought is terribly unfair) “do as I say and not as I do.” He rolls his eyes and turns up the volume on his radio…
This is what I’m going to do: I am going to promise myself that I will not become a “problem mom.” I will research the bejeezus out of all these annoying little quirks of middle-age and I will accept that my family can find entertainment (twisted and miserable though it may seem when I’m in the throes of whatever it is that causes hot flashes) in the misery. I will curtail my caffeine intake. I will commit myself to exercising every day and I will re-evaluate my decision to grow out my hair (the same hair that at 3 in the morning feels like a fur coat in 100 degree weather.)
I’ve navigated J’s puberty. J’s puberty has been sprinkled generously with autism…and viceversa. I can do this. I can rise above the pettiness of my body’s rebellion and prevail.
But I’d still love to see Julia Roberts at the Oscars…brightly smiling her signature toothy grin on stage…the eyes of the whole world watching her…and, with an almost inaudible gasp, she begins sweating like a a marathoner on the last mile of the NYC marathon and turning beet red while trying to seem non-chalant about it. Twisted? Maybe…but at 3 a.m. it’s the only thing that makes me giggle in the middle of the misery.