We all have them. The secret sins that keep us awake at night and tap us on the shoulder during the day while we try to go about our business. The sins that we would prefer our friends and neighbors never see. For some, this means dancing the Salsa naked with a Swiffer mop (I didn’t say that was me). For others, it’s sticking their faces in bags of bite-sized, cheese-flavored rice cakes at 2:00 a.m. (okay, maybe that was me).
I’m not Catholic, but I’m sitting in a confessional booth right now about to spill the goods on this middle-aged mother’s take on the seven deadly sins of menopause.
Envy: I live near a park with a jogging trail. I see women of all ages out there, rollerblading, running, and biking. Certain ones catch my eye—the PERFECT ones who look like they just rolled off the Barbie shelf at Target. Pink sweats with the Juicy label across their firm, little butts. Matching tank top stretched tight across breasts that aren’t jiggling like JELL-O cups in a truck when they jog. THOSE are the women I envy. Their pre-baby bodies are free of stretch marks that resemble the NYC subway system. They’re blessed with perky boobs aimed at the stars instead of their knee caps. It makes me long for my youth and a certain pink bikini I once owned.
Gluttony: This is the reason I no longer own the aforementioned pink bikini. I am a wine hoarder and a cake pop connoisseur. I am also selfish when it comes to take-out food. To prevent my kids from stealing my leftovers, I remind them that in certain cultures thieves get their hands chopped off as punishment for this crime. This keeps my thieving teenagers away from my stash while I’m busy searching food websites for more cake pop recipes.
Pride: This is something easily lost when you’re driving a rundown car with missing hubcaps and a broken door handle. Which is why you’ll NEVER see me behind the wheel of our minivan from hell that seizes up at every stop light in town. My husband inherited it because he happens to know car CPR. My own pride is seriously challenged every day when I look in the mirror and see body parts wiggling and waving back at me in an unnatural way. But if you ask me about my kids or my granddaughter, I’ll whip out my cell phone faster than you can say mu shu pork and force you to watch a terminally long slide show of every phase in their lives, starting with their ultrasound images all the way to their college graduation ceremonies.
Lust: When you’re menopausal, the mind says, “Yes,” but the body says, “Oh, hell no!” You learn to lust after other things, like an overstuffed quesadilla the size of a Chihuahua. Or Ben & Jerry’s Triple Caramel Chunk ice cream and a bottle of Dom Pérignon . A trip to Tahiti would be nice, too, but at this rate, I’ll never be able to fit back into that pink bikini again.
Anger: Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining or Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs. This is what I become when my son misses the school bus at 6:30 a.m. My head has also been known to spin like I’m in the throes of an exorcism when I send my husband to the hardware store for a socket set and he returns with a water-spraying fan. Or a singing can opener. It won’t be long until he discovers a toilet plunger that chants, “I think I can, I think I can!”
Sloth: When I think sloth, the first image that comes to mind is Jabba the Hutt. No, I do not resemble a bloated, slug-like alien, nor do I eat fleshy, aquatic creatures with slimy legs. But I DO like having minions (a.k.a. children) around to take out the trash, wash the dinner dishes, and tidy up rooms that look like a tornado blew through the house.
Greed: While most people associate greed with money and power, neither of these things appeals to me. I’m greedy when it comes to sleep. Those evil menopausal twins, Hot Flash and Fatigue, have joined forces with their mischievous cousin, Insomnia, to deprive me of a solid seven hours of slumber. My bladder is never one to miss a party either, so she’s right up there playing checkers with her cohorts at all hours of the night. If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a bear so I can hibernate for a few months and bite the head off the first person who wakes me.
There should be an eighth deadly sin as well, called INSANITY. When my body thermostat mimics the mercury levels of an Arizona desert during the month of July, or I suddenly find myself canvassing the girdle aisle at Save Mart, I’m bound to feel a little crazy. To combat the bipolar symptoms of my fluctuating hormones, I’ve discovered that the road to happiness is paved with Prozac and chocolate … and maybe a side trip to Tahiti with a pink bikini in my suitcase.