Before pre-menopause, I thought that being a female was a heavy cross to bear. Every month, through teenage years to menopause, struggling with your menstrual cycle and all the side effects that accompany it. The constant complaining about the bloating, crying, mood swings, cramps, etc. It’s the same routine and belly aching, “Why, why, why, do I have to go throw this when men get off so easy?” I remind myself that men can’t have babies, and that’s why we have to go through his horror every month. It’s our “gift” from God.
I once read that it was a special honor to be born female. This was all decided of course, in heaven before we were made manifest in physical form. This particular book asserted that women had to endure much more than men in their physical lives, and were much more intuitive, loving, caring, and in touch with their emotions than the males. It was a badge of honor to be born a woman and therefore, we were special.
Now, in my late 40s and pre-menopausal, I realize that yes, it is a gift to be a woman. Sitting in the auditorium at my daughter’s recent high school baccalaureate, I realized, with tears streaming down my face, that women are given this special gift to truly explore and express all of the emotions that life offers. Why were only the women in the room crying as their little babies were turning 18 and graduating high school? All the memories came flooding back of childbearing, rocking babies to sleep at night or through an illness, taking their hand and offering support that first day of kindergarten.
Not to say that men don’t get emotional or share in these responsibilities. But I don’t think men truly feel as deeply as women do. They don’t feel that they just need to go in a private room and cry very hard for about an hour while reflecting on all the memories that have made their life so enjoyable, and sometimes, so miserable. Seeing your child walking in the high school procession, graduating, and beginning a new life, feels like someone just hacksawed your arm. A piece of you is forever gone. But while I witnessed the events of the ceremony, I was truly thankful. Thankful for being a woman. Thankful that I had started my menstrual cycle that morning and was doubly-emotional. It was a gift. It allowed me to travel deeper into the abyss.
I looked around the room pitying the men that didn’t have that ability. It wouldn’t be manly for them to have tears streaming down their face or asking for a tissue from a fellow parent. They had to suck in it. But not us women. We are freely allowed to cry in public all we want. It is a badge of honor and we wear it just as proudly as a war veteran wearing a purple heart. Feeling love that deeply, whether menstrual-induced or not, is a gift from God. Walking blindly through life without actually feeling deep emotions is the curse. Not this. So I silently thanked God in the auditorium for the gift of allowing me to be born a female. And as my menstrual cycles continue to come sporadically and unexpectedly as I progress through pre-menopause, I will not be so quick to condemn them with the repeated question of “Why, why, why, do just women have to go through this.” Well maybe.
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