by Relinda M. Ruth When I think of teenagers, I cannot help but think of the changes they go through as they battle the inevitable process of puberty. When I think of puberty, I imagine a culmination of lifelong events which lead to another inevitable process for women—menopause. As I consider these two inexorable events, I recognize the implications of both. Puberty is a long process of preparing for an introduction to adulthood. Menopause is a long process of preparing to enter a realm of golden years while nearing the conclusion of adulthood. Ask any parent who has witnessed their child experiencing puberty what it was like. They will most likely explain that it was similar to what hell must be like. The first thing that happens is mood swings. There is nothing worse than watching a pre-pubescent child drifting from an angelic state to a satanic state. A child about to experience Mother Nature’s cruel destiny of raging hormones can literally become the spawn of the devil disguised as an angel within moments. I can provide an experience from my past to verify this unsettling transformation. As my daughter was preparing for this rite of passage into her teen years, I once asked her to do the laundry. At the time I asked, she was comfortably seated in front of a desktop computer, most likely chatting with her friends. I was in an ideal mood at the time and had no idea that I was about to witness this transformation firsthand. As I asked her to do the laundry, she spun around to look at me with this incredible look of hatred in her eyes. I almost winced from the blow. As I looked at my little angel, all I could see was an image of Linda Blair from The Exorcist. I could have sworn her eyes began to glow red and her head was spinning. One would think I had asked her to plow a ten-acre field of corn. I quickly retreated from the room before the projectile vomiting I imagined could begin. This is just one example of the moodiness accompanying puberty. It never ceases to amaze me how my perfect little angel is able to transform into the devil within mere seconds. As I began the stages of menopause, I also experienced the same moodiness that puberty brings. The mood swings, of which my husband had no previous experience, suddenly consumed his world. I went from being a sweet, mild-mannered wife to a violent demon in a matter of seconds. I believe he asked me something about whether I had washed his work clothes. Under normal circumstances, that would have been a casual conversation; however, while I was under the influence of menopause, this meant war. I began to rant and rave about laundry, politics, and religion all at once. I could not see my eyes, but he swears that they were glowing in a suspiciously crimson hue. He also mentioned The Exorcist. I am not sure what possessed me as I verbally attacked my husband. In hindsight, I can see the undeniable correlation between the moodiness that accompanies puberty and menopause. One event marks the beginning of hormones that control our lives, and the other marks the end of those same hormones. I believe the significance of both events is monumental. As puberty descends upon a child, their subconscious recognizes the vast expectations accompanying it. They are about to undergo physical and mental changes that will determine the crux of their existence. I believe our subconscious also recognizes that the inevitable process of menopause is the body’s way of preparing for the end. While there is no doubt that we usually have many more years to contemplate these wonderments of nature, subconsciously we recognize that we are ending a chapter in our lives. As my son underwent the transformation of puberty, he also developed an insufferable temper. I was blissfully unaware of this temper as I asked him to mow the lawn one sunny day. His eyes did not glow red; however, his pupils did become enormously dilated as he looked at me as though I had lost my mind. The process of male puberty now had an example. He managed to throw a tantrum unlike any I had ever witnessed. It seems that I had interrupted a life-altering session with Mario on level five of his Nintendo game. I then witnessed an episode of violence that permanently scarred me. He hit the pillow on the couch. He kicked the chair. I am convinced that if there had been a dog in the room, he would have kicked the poor little thing. He did eventually mow the yard, but not before yelling, kicking, and hitting everything in his path. A menopausal woman can most likely relate to this bizarre episode of temper. An innocent telemarketer experienced the misfortune of experiencing the temper of a menopausal woman as he phoned my house one night. A person does not even have to be menopausal to understand how frustrating it is to have strangers calling your home late at night to sell something. I lit into that fellow, practically blaming him for the whole process of menopause. I lost my temper. My fit of rage was not quite as graphic as my son’s tantrum, but the verbal assault I heaped onto this poor telemarketer was enough to make one blush. These two comparisons of temper are compliments of puberty and menopause. Puberty transforms a mild-mannered child into Attila the Hun within moments. Menopause likewise transforms Betty Crocker into a raving lunatic. Once again, the implications of both are amazingly similar. A normally calm individual can become violent while under the influence of hormonal changes. As I watched my daughter go through puberty, I witnessed many uncontrollable episodes of crying. I would pick her up at school and make the mistake of asking how her day went. When she began to blubber about the way Tommy Joe was responsible for ruining her life and possibly, to blame for the Holocaust, I knew I should have just stopped at hello. Translating the English language amidst the sounds of sobbing became my destiny. I learned about how I had damaged her psyche by asking her to do laundry and possibly even scarred her for life by insisting that she wear a bra to school. I also learned that it is an unforgivable sin to embrace your child in public. At least that is what I think I learned. It is hard to say with absolute certainty since I was translating all this through the sounds of snuffling and weeping. My menopausal symptoms included episodes of uncontrollable crying. My husband once made the mistake of asking how my day went. I say “once,” because he never made that mistake again. His simple inquiry led to a sobbing episode of sorts he had never witnessed. Instead of answering his hypothetical question about my day, I began to tell him about the plight of the dolphins in the ocean. I explained the problems of the world to him with dramatic emphasis on the trials of motherhood. He tried to be comforting as I sobbed uncontrollably, while explaining that polar bears were facing extinction. I learned that failing to have my daughter’s cerulean blouse washed, ironed, and ready on the day she wanted could send her into a crying episode, altering the world’s balance. I cried if a leaf fell from a tree. She cried because of the hormonal effects of puberty; I cried because of the hormonal effects of menopause. I have to wonder…what was it my daughter was really crying for. Was it because of a blouse or was it something much deeper. Was her subconscious possibly crying because it recognized that her life would never again be simple and carefree? Did she know on some level that she was undergoing a process that would tear the rose-tinted glasses from her eyes? Did she realize that puberty was taking her to a new stage in life? All that cogitation leads me to ask myself why I was crying. Did I recognize that menopause was preparing me for a new stage in life? There are amazing correlations between puberty and menopause. Both will emphasize mood swings, raging tempers, and of course, uncontrollable episodes of tears. One leads to the beginning of adult life and the other leads to the end. Are the hormonal effects of both so powerful because of nature or because of the power of the mind? I ask myself about that every day now. I have yet to devise an answer. My daughter went through puberty and she is preparing to enter a new world where nothing is as simple as it was in childhood. She is learning that every decision she makes has a consequence. I am going through menopause and learning that life is too short. I have made decisions and faced the consequences—good or bad. Both puberty and menopause are responsible for introducing stages of our lives that we cannot avoid. Despite all the trials, I would not want to miss either event. It is the inevitable cycle of life.