Nice hot cup of coffee. Yum. Grateful to be in a warm house. It’s a cold morning. On our walk to school this morning I try to show Jack and Fiona steam coming out of my mouth when I breath. “Look” I say. Jack tries to imitate me, but with fish lips. Fiona sucks her thumb with Tiny in one hand and with her other hand she holds onto mine tight as we walk. Jack runs ahead, wanting to go off in another direction. “No Jack, we’re going to school” I tell him. He’s o.k. with this. Billy wants to sniff, she pulls me, I feel a frustration, I’m holding Fiona’s hand, I’m holding the lunch box, Billy’s leash tangles around Fiona and I. Stay calm, deep breath. “Billy, stop it” I say, untangling the leash. We get to the classroom, warm, colorful, welcoming. I’m at ease. I’m early, I hang for a little longer than normal, Jack shows me a truck book, he wants me to read “Just one book”, Fiona shows me the felt Santa Claus, she takes off his head and puts it back, takes off his arm and puts it back. It’s so sweet, children are so sweet.
I head out, walking down the path with Billy, my feet get wet from the dampness in the grass, my hands are freezing, I switch back and forth with the leash in one hand and the other hand in my jacket pocket. I feel good, a mood swing. I’ll take it, no need to overly analyze the good days. Even last night as I woke up hourly with heat running down my neck and back, flip off the blankets, back to cold, cover back up, go back to sleep, repeat. I laugh to myself, this is ridiculous! But it’s happening, naturally, my body “withdrawing from estrogen”, an article a friend shared with me. Describing perimenopause/menopause being like withdrawing from drugs, my body is having estrogen withdraws. “Estrogen regulates temperature in our bodies”. It makes sense, perfect sense, it still sucks! But I can do it. I’ve gone through withdraws before, it only took two weeks, this could take ten years. This is life.
The path feels good under my feet, I decide to walk to the giant oak tree. It’s not a long hike, but it’s enjoyable. I walk through a section of the trail that always makes me pause. There’s old pieces of oak branches on the sides of the trail with white lichen, broken brittle ends, a dry creek with rocks and stones, trees cover above, and silence surrounds me. It feels like I enter another place, a hiking trail like I used to go on, before the babies were born. The parts of the hike that I would get to after an hour of hiking. But here I am close to houses, a road not far away. Why is this spot so magical? I get to the giant oak tree and feel another bit of peace, I stand for a moment, not long enough because it’s damn cold. I walk back wondering things like, “why aren’t there “women’s centers”? Places to go, have coffee, meet with other women. Offer Yoga classes and resources on dealing with our unique changing bodies. A support center, a gathering center, a children’s area for playdates. It would be cool. I think about trying to start a group, then I stop myself. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m not trying to organize anything or be part of any groups. It only sounds like a good idea. My focus is painting, writing, and raising Jack and Fiona. I get to the end of my walk and pass a conglomerate of fence posts, barbed wire, chains, and locks. I think about how old it must be, all the ways this blockade was made to prevent vehicles from driving onto the trail. I wonder who has the keys for the locks and if they are still alive. How many different people worked on this, and now it sits here old and rusty, with no purpose anymore.
It’s almost time to pick up Jack and Fiona now. I can hear the freeway humming, I will be part of that hum soon. “Go faster” Jack will say. They’ll want to go to the park, but it’s freezing! But if I don’t take them somewhere I need to tire them out in the house so they will take a nap. What to do, what to do? At least they both woke up super early! They should be tired.