After entering menopause, women start feeling differently…even in their family environment.
First of all, women themselves change. There are the hormonal changes, the mood swings, hot flushes, loss of libido, changes in physical appearance and so on. All of these changes are mostly hormonal changes, but the consequences can have a great impact on family life and equilibrium. Oestrogens are the hormones responsible for the “maternal instinct” and family nesting. That warm, cosy oestrogen, that makes mothers revel in their role as chief nurturer and main custodian of the next generation, begins to ebb away more or less when menopause starts.
All women love their families, but during menopause perspectives change a lot. In fact, women usually realise that they still have a life and their children can cope without them being behind them all the time. In this specific time of their lives, women realise that they need time for themselves, alone time and they need more attention paid to their feelings and for the big changes they’re going through. Because let’s be real, this is a BIG change!You need to adjust yourself to the new you, your body changing, your hormones swinging and the hot flushes on top of everything else. Therefore, you may want to focus more on yourself.
You need to find your new balance through your new self and, most of all, you need to accept yourself again.
Naturally, this comes with a price. Some families feel that Mum is not the same anymore. Some feel that Mother is more nervous (which of course she is being on a hormone rollercoaster basically every day). For a lot of families this is a great shock. Mostly because the your Mum has been there every day in the very same way for you, and all of a sudden things have changed. A lot of women I have spoken to, feel that parenting is still a central part of their life, but they also feel the urgency of doing something for themselves again. In most cases, children are young adults, so they start to interact in an adult to adult relationship. This makes everything slightly easier even though the change is so quick and drastic it requires a bit of adaptation time. Moreover, we have to also consider the “boomerang generation effect” (see previous article on megsmenopause). It consists of the recent phenomenon of young adults moving back with parents for financial reasons. This creates again an “unbalance” in families, as parents were used to not having their daughters/sons at home anymore and all of sudden everything goes backwards. It can be difficult cohabiting, especially if the Mum is going through a delicate phase such as menopause. Spaces can become small again and personal space non-existent. The advantage is, that even your children (although not young children anymore) will want their own personal space. It is pivotal in these situations, to ensure that everyone has their own space.
It is important that everyone knows the necessity of the other, the space they cannot invade and the time thats not to be “touched”.
On the other hand, the opposite effect that we could have is the “empty nest” syndrome. It can be that your ‘children’ are leaving home exactly when you are entering or about to enter menopause. You may experience empty nest syndrome, meaning you will feel lonelier more depressed and lost. You can feel you are loosing your temper more, becoming irritated by every little thing and you also may experience anxiety episodes. Moreover, you will feel you have suddenly lost a sense of meaning and purpose. Well, if you are also going through menopause it will just amplify these symptoms. Therefore, if, on one hand we struggle having our children back, on the other hand we will struggle seeing them go, because this will cause the effect of not feeling needed anymore. But don’t be too hard on yourself: it is normal to have all of these feelings and you’re not alone.
All of these situations can be dealt with. It is pivotal to have family support and partner support (if you still have a partner), otherwise friends can be a huge support. It is important to speak out about our feelings and not try to solve things by yourself. At the end of the day they are family. They will understand our feelings if we speak up about them.
One thing is certain, it’s not going to be an easy time, but, like everything in menopause you will surf through it once you know how to do it.