Womanhood:Various Stages in Life
Contrasting Yesteryear with Today (4/2006)
Womanhood: Various Stages in Life
Recently I was speaking with my mother-in-law and we were sharing about the many topics regarding the various stages of womanhood. While we conversed, I realized that both of us had come to similar conclusions regarding a woman’s transition from the early years to the latter. We spoke of the blessings, tribulations, glories, and wonders of being a woman. We enjoyed speaking on the child-bearing years and the many ups and downs that a woman endures during that stage of her life. Lastly, we both agreed that with each passing stage one is grateful to have come through them sane and alive.
For instance, being a woman at twenty years old is quite different from being a middle-aged woman. Most healthy twenty year old women, on any given morning are able to automatically fling their legs off the bed, have a jump in their step, and a bounce in their walk as they make their way to the bathroom. This is not so when one is a middle-aged woman, now to make it out of bed she must gently place one leg at a time over the edge of the bed. The jump in her walk turns into a limp, and the bounce becomes a shuffling of the feet.
Another example is that during a healthy twenty-year old’s menstrual cycle, it is a reminder to her that a child has not been created, but the possibility and hope of becoming pregnant still remains. Hence, the most bothersome part of a cycle for a twenty-year old is the fact that it cuts into her physical activities, including that of intimacy. This is quite the contrary with most healthy middle-aged woman because by this time in life she is not facing the possibilities of pregnancies, but the probability of menopause. Hence, to have a menstrual cycle brings about several difficulties such as hot flashes, long or short cycles, and hormonal rages that can make the most timid woman act like a caged up lion, roaring to be set free from her entrapment. However, there is one relief in having a cycle; having ones menstruation becomes the eventful and acceptable excuse to not have physical activities, including that of intimacy. I shared with my mother-in-law that perhaps the word “menopause” had to deal with exactly that, placing men on pause until our hormones come into balance.
Furthermore, a woman who chooses to have her children early in life has quite a different outlook on parenting than that of a woman in her mid-forties to fifties. For the young mother, she is able to keep up with the physical energy of her young one, while the middle-aged mother is too tired to run, skip, and hop. However, there is one great advantage of being an older mother, that is, that the experiences of life have taught the older woman that time waits for no man. With this in mind, the older mother takes ample time to spend with their child, they are able to enjoy even the smallest details, like the smile of a child, or the look of amazement that comes upon a little one when they first see a bird or a plane flying high in the sky. Every moment of that child’s life is appreciated, for an older mother knows full well that there is no guarantee of tomorrow, so today must be enjoyed. As for the young mother, it isn’t so much that she doesn’t think all these things are important, it’s just that so many other things have taken her attention. The pride of life still plays a huge role in her life. Things like cleaning the house, doing the laundry, having dinner ready, having a career, going to school, having some personal time, all seem to be of the utmost importance, because they don’t understand that children remain children for only a short time. Yes, we both agreed that young mothers have a very big disadvantage to that of the more experienced, older mother when it comes to outlooks on life. However, we also agreed that having children at a young age means that one’s children will be young adults when one is still young enough to enjoy them as friends. Either way, younger or older mother, the joy of being a mother is truly a blessing in disguise.
Lastly, after having compared physical, menstrual and child-bearing differences between younger and older woman, we began to speak of a woman’s mental state during these very different stages in life. Needless to say, a young woman’s memory is quite different from that of an older woman’s. For a young woman, “need-to-do” lists are mentally written down, while an older woman would have at least five stick-um messages placed throughout the house. Yet there is one advantage an older woman has: whenever she doesn’t quite feel like running an errand, she can use the excuse that she simply forgot. Hey, who’s to say she didn’t? I know, it’s a small variation of the truth but the probability is she most likely won’t remember she lied in the first place. On a more serious tone, it is noteworthy to mention that we both agreed that a woman is probably more mentally healthy at an older age than at a younger because she has already gone through the most formidable years in a woman’s life. At the older stage one has usually found the answer to the all-encompassing question: “Who am I?” Most young women really aren’t comfortable with themselves, because they are not quite sure who they are, but by the time one reaches forty or fifty years old, the answer has been found. More importantly, not only has an older woman found the answer to the question, but she has accepted the answer fully. Hence, the mental acceptance of one’s purpose and meaning in life allows most women to find the peace, joy and love that they have been seeking throughout their life.
As we concluded our conversation, we acknowledge that there are advantages and disadvantages to every stage in a woman’s life. We accepted the fact that with each passing stage, a woman has the ability to truly enjoy every stage in her life, if only she could remember during the difficult times of those stages that nothing remains the same, that life continues, and that every stage is filled with joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, success and disappointments, victory and defeat, beginnings and endings.
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