Being a girl is not easy. That’s what I explained to Little My this morning, as she blinked though the tears and asked me why she is suddenly swinging between crying and getting angry all the time for no reason. I held my daughter in my arms and tried to break the news as gently as I could: Herr Hormone and his henchmen had taken control of her emotional control panel, rewired it and taken over the management of all behavioural procedures in a subversive, pre-pubescent putsch.
Do you know the difference between female hormones and a fairground ride? The answer is that there is no difference at all: they both make you loop the loop and climb to vertiginous heights of exhilaration before plunging into the depths of doom and gloom, leaving you with nausea and a headache.
Men are blissfully ignorant of how it feels to wake up craving chocolate cake and hating the world with the combined malevolence of all three witches in Macbeth. When your Significant Other Half makes the mistake of asking for a matching pair of socks, your eyes pop out of your head, your mouth opens, and out tumbles your outrage at being taken for the family skivvy, closely followed by the age-old comment that he’s a big boy now, that you are not his mother and he can sort his own flaming socks out. You then inform him that he can start his quest for independence by pouring his own coffee, then immediately feel guilty, ask for a cuddle and bawl into his armpit as you plead for chocolate-covered doughnuts and back rubs. Welcome to the hormonal roller-coaster that the medical world coyly refers to as PMS.
I would love men to get a turn at being a woman. Just for a couple of cycles. Boys, even without being subjected to the multiple “joys” of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding such as being kicked in the bladder all night, crapping a watermelon and having breasts like twin udders, it’d be a real eye-opener for you. Afterwards, you would maybe hesitate to come up with that inter-generational male classic of attributing everything we say that you don’t happen to like to our hormones. For example, when we blow a gasket because you have “invested” the equivalent of a week’s food supply in the purchase of a plant for the garden “because it was cheap”, it cannot be brushed off using your very unscientific “theory of menstruality”. This implies that we would have been thrilled to bits and kissed you fore and aft for your great initiative at any other moment in our cycle. No, guys; it really does mean that we are angry and we don’t agree. Period. (Sorry for the tasteless pun. I couldn’t resist it.)
Yes, I’m sure you would enjoy being a girl for a month. You could discover the harsh reality of living with boobs: blancmange-like parasites with minds of their own that inflate and deflate in tempo with Herr Hormone’s whims. They start an irreversible migration south just when we girls can enjoy having them as a feminine asset rather than a refuelling pod or airbag for our offspring (further information about boobs can be obtained from a previous post entitled “Nesting and Migration in the lesser spotted boob“).
Then there’s the necessary, sine qua non experience of the check-up at what my favourite author Kathy Lette aptly describes as « the cervix station ». Go ahead, guys, test it out. You will discover that there is nothing quite so unnerving as a complete stranger brightly enquiring what you what you do for a living as he peers hopefully into your depths like Indiana Jones checking out a dank, bottomless cave on his quest for the holy grail.
That’s why I have always found myself a female Ob-Gyn. At least, I have done since an unfortunate first experience as a young woman (a long time ago, as you no doubt suspect). I went through the Yellow Pages and hunted down the oldest French christian name in the list, convinced that pre-retired specialists would be totally blasé about seeing half-naked women. I took an appointment with the presumably ancient and wrinkly Emile, and sailed confidently into the surgery to find an eager, young and square-jawed Grey’s Anatomy-style doctor who had obviously just graduated from medical school. Lesson learned: never judge a book by it’s cover.
I will leave you with this helpful spoof information film to help men deal with PMS. I apologise to my parents for my choice of subject – I can’t help it. It’s no doubt because of my hormones…..