In the last several months, it feels like a stranger has moved into my home. This stranger is being overrun with fluctuating hormones that seem to mess with everything. Clothes don’t fit the way they should. Her hair is not cooperating the way it used to. Her whole body is not responding to things the way she thinks it should and the stress of the uncertain future, and seeing a comfortable past slipping away, along with the fact that she can’t prevent it or slow it down, is making her short-tempered and snarly with her whole family.
If you have a tween, or a teen, in your family, this may seem familiar. In my case, though, this is not one of my children – although that is likely not far away.
This is me.
I’ve written before about being an “older” mom and how great it has been. More ultrasound pictures. More comfortable in my own skin. Having children keeps you young. And after years of struggling with both infertility and pregnancy loss, having two living children at any age is a sweet victory. And so what if I’m homeschooling my children until I’m 60? I’m doing what I love, aren’t I?
All true. But what I neglected to realize when having babies in my late 30s and early 40s is that at the same time they are growing up and into puberty and adolescence, I would begin having my own struggles with hormones and the like.
In many ways, the things I am beginning to deal with mimic what I remember of my early adolescence. Knowing that my body was changing and wondering if everyone around me could tell. Wondering if what I was going through was normal, but being too shy or embarrassed to ask anyone about it. Not wanting to let go of the comfortable stage of life I was used to, but powerless to stop time from marching on and doing what it would with me.
In some ways, dealing with this now in my own self is preparing me for when my children go through their own changes in the coming years. Unlike them, I have the benefit of age, maturity, and experience. When I slow down and step back from the fluctuating hormones, I am able to think logically about what is happening and realize there are physical reasons for my feelings. There are changes going on that I can’t control entirely, but I can influence their impact for the better by taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I can take advantage of this time to set better habits that will serve our whole family in the future, including them as they enter the wildness of early adolescence. And when they deal with their own fluctuating hormones and unfamiliar changes, I hope I will be able to walk through it with them with empathy developed from my own recent journey.
In the meantime, I’m making peace with this stranger in my home, getting to know the new “me” while trying to improve the parts of the old me that have come along for the ride. And honestly? The view from here is not terrible, just different. It will be exciting to see what is in store.