Dealing With Menopause & A Two-Year Old: A Terrible Tandem

I was speaking on the phone to a friend the other day, and we were catching up after a long time.

“Your daughter is so cute,” she said, referring to my two and a half year-old, whose photos adorn my Facebook page.

“Thanks,” I replied. “She’s an asshole. “ I paused. “Just kidding. A little.”

I read article after article praising the benefits of older moms, and the advantages of becoming a mother in midlife. And I am quick to admit that becoming a first-time mom well into my 40s has been a huge joy, and an experience I thought I probably wouldn’t get to have. I’m so happy that I didn’t miss out on motherhood. Our daughter is a wonderful creature—as cute as my friend says she is, and smart, funny, sweet and curious. But, she’s two and a half, so, you know …

Dealing with menopause and my two year-old, a terrible tandem

There are some things they don’t prepare you for in the instruction manual to midlife mothering. And that is, having to deal with menopause and the Terrible Twos. I’m dealing with these in tandem and let me tell ya, it ain’t pretty.

Here is my unscientific list of the symptoms of menopause:

  • Extreme fatigue & sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of control over emotions
  • Irrational behavior

Here is my unscientific list of the symptoms of the Terrible Twos:

  • Extreme fatigue & sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of control over emotions
  • Irrational behavior

Note the similarities? Except that one of us is two and a half and one of us is in her late forties. I’m the mommy, the one expected to ride out my daughter’s tantrums with Zen-like calm, to never raise my voice or stoop to her level of irrational argument. I’m not to give in to her hysterical demands for water in a different cup, nor am I to step over her little body as she lies on the floor, kicking and screaming, in order to pour myself a second glass of wine.

Also Read: When Missed Periods May Mean Menopause

But hello. I’m in freaking menopause! All my husband needs to do is look at me the wrong way (or rather, not look at me the right way) for me to be convinced he no longer loves me and secretly wants a divorce. All I need to do is go upstairs to fetch something, come back downstairs and realize I forgot the thing I went upstairs to get, and my day feels completely derailed. Throw into the mix a 30-month old who refuses to put on her shoes or eat her supper or stay inside when I tell her to and well, life can seem pretty overwhelming.

Then when I do raise my voice—and I do so more than I care to admit—there’s the guilt at not succeeding in being a more patient mom to a child who is as confused by her emotions as I am by my own. She’s just testing her boundaries and asserting her independence, like any normal two-year old does. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that makes me feel really bad most of the time.

Dealing with menopause and my two year-old , a terrible tandem

Of course I know I’m not alone. With more and more women having children in midlife, I wonder whether any of us is ever really prepared for the unfortunate coincidence of menopause and the Terrible Twos. One or the other is challenging enough by itself. Usually we are remiss to even consider either of them will actually happen to us.

Not my kid. She’ll never throw tantrums or tell me she doesn’t love me… Menopause? Nah, I’ll be fine. I’ll just eat right and take some herbal remedies. All those 50-something women who complain about it are just wusses.

Yeah, right!

So, I don’t write this with any answers about how to manage the Terrible Twos and the dreaded “change of life” when they happen to collide. The truth of the matter is that there’s no way around it but through the whole mess. Naomi will eventually outgrow the Terrible Twos and I will survive menopause and return to some semblance of hormonal balance. I imagine I’ll always look back on this period with a certain amount of regret for not being stronger, more resilient, and more patient and kind with my daughter. But I’ll tell you right now, when Naomi is an adult, she totally owes me a spa weekend. With lots of glasses of wine thrown in for good measure.

Elizabeth Heath

Elizabeth Heath is an American-born writer and editor based in Italy. She has served as editor-in-chief to several regional magazines, and contributed hundreds of articles on travel, business, fashion, celebrities, politics, lifestyle and more to local, regional and national print publications and websites. She is also the editor of dozens of editions of Frommer’s travel guides. Liz writes about the peculiarities of life in the Italian countryside in her blog, My Village in Umbria.