I got a phone call from my doctor recently, telling me that a recent blood test showed that I was 'post-menopausal'. I didn't quite know how to respond to this news. I didn't feel post-menopausal. My body seemed to be still following somewhat familiar rhythms. When I said nothing, he added, 'Well you don't need to go out and buy a staff and a shawl..." Fortunately, I appreciate his sense of humour so this didn't seem as offensive over the phone as it does now that I am writing it. Anyway, there it was. I was done. An entire phase of my life was over. My contribution to the furthering of the human species had been accomplished and now I was going to have to find meaning and value elsewhere. As send offs go - it was a pretty flat fizzle.
It reminded me of the time when I was a new mother and my sister-in-law developed pneumonia. I wanted to do what I could to help as she had three young children at the time. We decided the best thing would be to get her groceries. I remember standing at the meat counter of our local Sainsbury's asking the butcher which was the best chicken to make chicken soup. He pointed to a scrawny looking bird inside the counter window. It had a sign pierced into its depleted chest that read: Boiler. "What makes that one a boiler?" I asked naively. "Those are the ones that lay the eggs." He said. Apparently, the ones we normally eat are males. The penny dropped. I looked at down at my four year old and back up at the butcher aghast, "Oh my God. I'm a boiler!" I exclaimed. He quickly tried to make me feel better by adding, "They've got all the flavour."
As my friend Amelia pointed out, finding out you've become a 'boiler' is probably best weathered by women in full time employment. I know I could really bury my head in an in-tray right now. But as I am self employed - ie home alone with my thoughts, I have had time to stew on this unsatisfactory end to my fertility and I want to register a protest.
I worked bloody hard to surf my biology. I know I am fortunate to have had successful pregnancies and I am so grateful for my family. I also know what it is like to give birth, not sleep for years, basically go through school all over again and again (but without any sense of control), develop the anticipatory abilities of a cold war spy, become a nutritionist, a nurse practitioner and acquire the patience of a zen priest - and I don't think a little tete a tete with my gynaecologist is enough of a send off, frankly - for any of us.
I want a party. I want a band; maybe a parade. I want a gold watch and a holiday. I want it noted by relevant parties that I played my part and I did so to the best of my ability. Maybe a few speeches would do the trick. And furthermore, I would like to share all of this with all the other flavourful mother's out there. I know what was required; and you deserve all of the above. Happy Mother's Day.
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