Mondays: Lady had baby.
It's interesting to me that the day I wrote Menopause Post #1 was the same day the pending Roe v. Wade ruling was leaked. Menopause and baby-having... What is the knot here? Shame and reverence and ownership and ... ... power?
When I realized that my last period was my last period, I felt a lot of things, and one of those things was powerlessness. Aging is irreversible, no matter what anyone tries to sell you. Time does what it does. There would be absolutely no more babies. Did I want more children? No. But it felt better when it was my choice. When it was my choice, I felt strong and capable and decided.
Last week, I shared what I learned about the word "menopause" -- that it loosely translates to "I stop." According to Dr. Jen Gunter (The Menopause Manifesto), other cultures have language that reflects transition, fluidity, the watery in-between that moves us from one phase of life to another, and that all of it is valued. Not quite so in these parts. Generally speaking, in America, we get stuck in absolutes, dichotomous thinking. Like maybe we should consider changing our flag to just a flapping rectangle with two halves: one black, one white.
The way we talk about conception and "Life" and abortion in public discourse drives me to madness. Last night I wrote eight paragraphs about it. Today, I'm looking at those eight paragraphs, and I'm tired. On one hand I want to ask if "murderer" is really the proper term for any one of my friends who have had abortions. I want to ask if anyone who uses the phrase "pro-life" actually believes anyone is "anti-life". And I want to ask why, if Life is full and divine at conception, we don't honor its loss by miscarriage with names and headstones in the cemetery. But that seems insensitive, and also: I'm so tired of the bullet-point discourse and the memes. I'm tired of the dichotomous thinking. I'm so bless-ed tired of the lopsided honor.
Yesterday (Mother's Day!) a man on the internet praised mothers who "chose life", and everyone applauded as if that was the end of the story. Curtain. Cue credits. Lady had baby. The end.
Is there any more to the story? Are there any other stories? Just this one?
Some babies of mothers who "chose life" go on to do wonderful things, and we say, "Look! If that mother had chosen to brutally murder her baby way back when, we would not have this fantastic person doing all of these fantastic things!"
Simultaneously: Some babies of mothers who "chose life" are born into cycles of poverty and crime and addiction and never find their way out, and they grow up and collect welfare checks, and then some of the same people who championed their birth now complain about them milking the system and then throw them in jail and talk about what pieces of garbage they are, but not before those chosen babies have several more chosen babies to continue the cycle and grow into adults we can imprison and condemn and complain about.
Aren't we all exhausted with this? Doesn't this feel whacked? Isn't the upkeep of this dialog strenuous?
Did you know fatigue is one of the symptoms of menopause? It is also a symptom of aging. And of working in special education in the month of May in an urban school district that needs more resources but keeps getting less instead. It is a symptom of being a "single mom" who needs to get her kid to baseball after work and whose house is a disaster. It's a symptom of watching your parents and everyone else around you age.
But menopause and abortion... They feel connected to me.
Maybe the frustrating menopause-abortion connection is the idea that The Womb is the story. "Lady had baby." The end. (Hence: If lady does not have baby, what good is she, really?) What if there is more to the story? What if there are other stories, entirely?
I admit, it's compelling. I believe in God as the Creator. That is to say: I believe God is creativity, so it's an easy connection: God + Womb.
But I also believe that if God is creator, God is a really freaking good one. Really innovative. He/She/It/They are not drawing stick figures on the back of a napkin. God is painting with lots of colors and textures and hidden gems and movement and a soundtrack and 3-D mosaics and probably even using some essential oils.
I'm pretty sure God uses more colors than black and white. Definitely more lines than just the straight ones. So why don't we? Why are we so committed to such a 2-D construct?
What I do know is that nobody is fighting over who owns my menopause and my echo hall chamber of a uterus. It's mine. If I want to rip it out tomorrow, no one will care. Maybe that makes me powerful, afterall.