Recently my husband and I visited our daughter at college for Family Weekend. Another glorious visit designed to make me feel like I’m 1000-years-old surrounded by all those newly professional beer-chugging 20-somethings! Was I like that in college? It’s all a bit fuzzy, so the answer must be yes. You moms know what I mean? Remember the days before we even knew what hot flashes were?
Our daughter lives in a house with 6 other girls and they hosted a pre-football tailgate before we went to the stadium for the big football game. (Deep breath) Let the games begin!
The girls set up a table and we played a moms v. dads game of flip-the-cup. It’s basically a relay race drinking game. The first person drinks some beer from a red cup, then puts said cup down and flicks it with a finger so it lands upright and then and only then the next person is allowed to go. Like our daughters, we moms took this very seriously.
As the game was about to start, I felt it. Out of nowhere the heat started rising. Try to slow down and breathe, my doctor would say, as if that ever makes any difference at all. It was too late. The flash had begun and I was gonna’ have to ride this bad boy out.
Menopause sucks. Or I guess it’s perimenopause I’m talking about. I’ll go out on a limb and assume they both suck. And as if it weren’t hard enough losing my mother too long ago, now she’s not even here for me to be able to ask her about all the crap I’m going through now. I kind of remember her blasting the cool air at times while the rest of us snuck over to the thermostat and put the heat back on. Holy crap, mom – I get it now and I. AM. SORRY!
You see, of all the stuff I’ve been going through lately, the hot flash (or flush as my gyno likes to call it) really takes the cake. I now dress in layers. I have to. They’re good for peeling off one piece at a time – depending on how hot you’re actually feeling. They’re also good for protection, for tucking in the humiliation as beads of sweat make my makeup run, stealing my youth and leaving me uneven with no cover.
It’s embarrassing and it’s upsetting and it’s mostly goddamn hot! Gone are the carefree days of cute sweaters and tight turtlenecks and anything made of wool. Now it’s about breathable fabrics and v-necks and colors that don’t show sweat marks.
And right then I heard one of the girls yell, “Go!”. It was hot as hell in my body even though the house was cool. The living room was bright and crisp and the parents were happily smiling in their sweatshirts and beanies. Seven dads stood on one side of the table facing seven moms on the other side. Cups halfway filled with beer were on the table between each couple. Leaves that had clearly blown in when the last person entered the house could be seen on the floor by the door. Loud music filled the room and the smell of beer and vodka and toasted bagels floated in the air. A chocolate kiss sat on the floor under the table.
The first mom, blond and svelte, had on a blue Michigan sweatshirt and jeans and she had a hand on her cup. She wore a determined smile and looked like flipping the cup in front of her was a matter of life or death. Her husband, across the table from her in a matching sweatshirt wore the same determined smile.
I was next to her, sweatshirt already stripped off and on the floor behind me, beanie already on the table in front of me, and the sleeves of my thin ¾ shirt already rolled up even higher. My cheeks were beet red and the beads of sweat on my forehead and upper lip revealed the red where my concealer had washed away. I felt helpless remembering this happening many times before. My horrified eyes gave away the fact that something was wrong. My caring husband, across the table, bundled up in his blue and maize jacket, looked unsure about what to do to help.
"Don’t stop!… Take this!", I heard as the mom to my right handed me an ice cube. And without a beat we carried on, took control back from that midlife reminder (if only for a moment), crushed the dads, and made our daughters proud.
Who else overcame the dreaded hot flash and was able to persevere with a little help from a friend?