Although my life is far from perfect, the irony is that in a divorced parent's custody schedule - with days on and days off - instead of like it was before, when I felt ragged and still oddly guilty all the time, now I feel guilty but not ragged.
The literature of menopause is the saddest, the most awful, and the most medical of all genres. You're sleepless, you're anxious, you're fat, you're depressed - and the advice is always the same: take more walks, eat some kale, and drink lots of water. It didn't help.
There's an image that some of us have of Jackie Onassis, stepping out in the rain, and Maurice Tempelsman is holding her umbrella. We want that man. We want the man to be the concierge and the masseur and the travel booker.
Having blown up my own long-term marriage via an extramarital affair, followed by a traumatic divorce, I tend to think of love as less a gently glowing hearth than a set of flaming train tracks you strap yourself onto.
You go into the book store, there's the cut-out of Dr. Phil, and then the dreaded women's health section where every book, instead of the menopause book with the fanged Medusa head on the cover that might be more pertinent, you always see a flower and a poppy and a daisy and a stethoscope.
Menopause is your return to where you were before, when your hormone levels are the same as a pre-adolescent girl's.
I find I'm the sort of harried working mother who has difficulty scheduling in a bit of rest amid the Ptolemaically complicated interlocking gears of professional and personal life.
Struggling with my finances, nudging toward 50, I sometimes daydream about being happily married to a matching frugaholic husband in a matching Christmas-red tracksuit with matching walkie-talkies as we troll Ralphs, excitedly comparing triple coupons.
Almost 50 years old now, some 30 years after graduation, I look at my Caltech classmates and conclude that math whizzes do not take over the world.
Approaching 50, I am living a life that is less sunlit Waldman/Chabon than tattered Charles Bukowski.
Certainly, being a 'perfect' mother is unachievable.
I admit to a bias toward high culture.
I agree that mommy wars are not good for any mothers: that such wars are time and effort wasted.
I am a longtime, rabid fan of Jonathan Kozol.
I am a member of the 'sandwich' generation, that group that must simultaneously care for elderly parents and support children.
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