Our Story Begins:
Hindsight, Hormones and Horrendous Behavior
This week I had to have quite the uncomfortable discussion with my middle daughter.
It wasn’t uncomfortable because I was embarrassed of the subject matter or that it was about sex or boys or any of the traps in the hormonal minefield that is teenage parenting.
The conversation was one of those uncomfortable ones that would normally have been started by her mother were she still alive. I had to explain to my daughter the realities of being a girl and eventually a woman who has to live with PMS.
Before every woman on the planet blasts me for broaching a subject on which I seemingly have no experience let me just say this isn’t one of those “blame it on PMS” discussions.
My wife suffered – and that is the correct verb here, suffered – from intense and horrific Premenstrual Syndrome. There was a change in her. She was miserable, moody, angry, sad, loving , sometimes all at once.
Because of her mother’s suffering I tended to give Hannah a wide berth.
Related Post: Our Story Begins: Of Tampons and Trust
Until this week. Chores were not completed. The kitchen, which I needed desperately to be able to cook pies, a turkey, bread dressing, mashed potatoes, homemade caramels . . . was a gigantic mess. By the time Hannah trundled down the stairs with her headphones in her ears on day 2 of PMS I was exhausted. Still, I carefully but sternly told her I needed the work done.
She shrugged and walked past me.
“Hannah,” I said a bit more sternly, “if you don’t do this I can’t get things ready for the holidays or for Abbi.”
“Then you need to get off your butt and get . . . ”
Before I could finish she bit my head off.
“I know DAD!!!! Geez, I get it already.”
It’s here I stopped dead and it was time for my mood to shift.
After raising my own voice I was informed, “You never talked to MOM that way when she had cramps and felt this way!”
She’s right. I didn’t. There are two reasons for that: one, we were a partnership. She’d earned my respect and I knew she wasn’t wanting to act the way she did. The other was that when we had to get things done, cramps, hormones or behavior or not, she did them. On more than one occasion my late wife talked about how hard it was to do her job and work even when she wanted to just fly off the handle. But she didn’t, though I often took the brunt when she got home.
Regardless of how she feels, when she gets a job, goes out in the world, or even just goes to school or college she has to interact with people. Most of them won’t care about her PMS, they’ll tell her to get over it – whether that’s right or not. You could get fired, hormones or no, from a job for yelling at a boss the way she yelled at me.
In the end, we had a long discussion about heading off the effects not suffering through them. We also talked about respect and how that should be there hormones or not.
After I raised my own voice she had the look of cognition . . . and she has been taking her medicines and exercising and stretching to help herself feel better ever since.
I may not be able to say I can relate to the issues that are unique to women, but I certainly can empathize having lived with her mom for more than 20 years and raising two of them for more than 15 years.
The behavior bordered on horrendous, and I do realize it’s not all her fault. But I was able to teach a lesson with the experience of hindsight.
What about you? Do you have daughters? What do you teach them about the hormones and mood swings? What do you tell your sons about it? Is it an excuse or should they be aware?