I’ve been putting this off and putting this off and I will put it off no more: let’s talk about hormones.
People warn you that marriage will be hard. They warn you that being in the workforce will be hard. They warn you that parenthood will be hard.
Few people warn you about hormones, really.
I mean, I always heard older women joking about them, but it was always this very, very far-away reality that I thought only happened to…well, those women.
Newsflash, Mrs. Gore: you are now one of those women.
I had this crazy urge the other day to gather my kids around me and march us all around the kitchen table whilst chanting (because we like to make big statements whilst marching around the kitchen table):
We’re marching toward the Kingdom, we’re marching toward the Kingdom, even though Mommy is CRAZY!!!!…
Because I really want my family to know something…I’m DESPERATE, in fact, for them to know something…that we are still on our pilgrimage, we are still “stepping heavenward”…
even though there is no hiding the fact from these precious children of mine that, at times, their mother is a hot, holy mess.
“Holy” because, even in the midst of the hormonal messes, I am being sanctified, I am growing, I am learning self-control and God is preparing for me a weight of glory (see this message from John Piper). I believe that, and I’m clinging to it. These times are not wasted, these emotions are not wasted, this season is not wasted.
“Hot” because I am having HOT FLASHES.
Like, I’m standing there next to you on a Sunday morning and the day is perfectly normal and, out of nowhere, sweat beads begin to ooze first out of my mustache pores and then the rest of my pores follow suit until I am this clammy, panicking heatbag. I’m suddenly fanning myself with whatever papers I can find, usually a stack of church bulletins, and I’m grasping at my hair to lift if off my neck and I’m feeling a too-strong-for-church urge to shuck my cardigan and then whatever other layers it takes to relieve me from the Hades that has descended upon me.
I realize now that “I’m having a hot flash” doesn’t just mean we need to turn the air down. It means I need to be alone and in a muumuu and under a ceiling fan RIGHT. NOW!!!
And, lastly, “mess” because, at times…often, actually…I’m this huge, confused, dazed, angry MESS.
I’m not kidding. In the three years since my last baby was born, I will just be inexplicably fat all of a sudden. Like, I won’t be one day, and then the very next day, I’m a puffy marshmallow woman.
And don’t say I’m not because, though I might hide it well on most days, and though I might NOT be fat on some days (also inexplicably) I’m the one who buttons my jeans and…yeah. Some days they button. Some days they don’t.
My brain feels so hopelessly broken, as well. In the thick of hormone-time, I just can’t think. I can’t spell. I can’t process. People will ask me what I have planned for the week and if such-and-such day would be a good day to do such-and-such, and I just stare at them and blink and say bright things like “uhhhhh…I’m not sure…” And they’re like, “you’re not sure what you’re doing tomorrow?” And I’m like “yeah…I think there will be breakfast?…and I will probably read a book to my kids, maybe?…ummm…is it hot in here?!…”
In fact, my brain is SO broken sometimes that I have committed to love my husband and kids and church body and to homeschool and, well, the rest is kind of up in the air. I have just come to grips with the fact that there is no room on my plate not just for more things to do, but even for more things to think about doing. The thinking is broken.
But worse than the hot flashes and the weight fluctuations and the brain slumps are, without a doubt, the mood swings.
I was having a high hormonal day a couple of weeks ago and, I kid you not, I cried for an HOUR and a HALF. Not at one time, mind you, but forty minutes and then a short break followed by forty more minutes (which is so much better).
“I can’t do this!!!” I wailed to my husband from the bathroom floor, trying to hide away from the kids. “I. can’t. do. this.”
“Do what?” he asked me concerned.
“THIS,” I said, gesturing to the air around me. “Clean. Cook. Homeschool. Nurture. I’m the WORST. I can’t do it. I’m not good at this!!!! I’m not good…”
“You are…” he said.
“I’m NOT!” I snotted. “I want to. But I can’t.”
“You’ve been doing great, babe. What is it that you feel like you can’t do all of a sudden?…” he asked.
“Well…” I sobbed, “I can’t keep food in the pantry. I mean, I buy it but then it’s gone. And…well…I can’t pick out meat. Like, I have all these recipes I want to make but…there are so many meats and…I don’t know how to buy them!!!…”
“Yeah?…” he said, wearing my favorite bemused expression that tells me he’s trying to listen and trying to understand and REALLY trying not to laugh.
Now, lest you worry about me and begin offering remedies for what ails me, let me assure you that I have been proactive about these demon hormones and, after several visits to professionals, my doctors assure me that I am simply experiencing the fallout of four consecutive pregnancies over the course of 8 years. My body is simply out of whack and we’re doing what we can to whack it back into place through diet and exercise and, hallelujah, I actually feel like I’ve made a HUGE turn for the better in the last few months.
But the really bad thing about these days — and what I am determined to improve — is that I usually forget to plan for them, even though I could easily calculate when they’re coming and lock myself into a vault with Netflix and chips and queso, thereby saving myself — and my family — from these crash-and-burn episodes of frailty.
No, though, I let them sneak up on me and bring the whole lot of us down in sackcloth and agony.
Then, afterward, when I realize why I was in the deepest depths of despair, I go “ohhhhhh…so I’m NOT the worst…and I CAN do this…cool!…”
It’s a good feeling, when you realize that you actually can pick out meat.
But you know what?
Do you know why I am introducing the internet to my hormones? Do you know why I’m even writing this today? Because. Because I am done being bewildered and I am done being the victim, and I am figuring my new and unimproved body out and, most importantly, I’m finally coming to grips with this season of suffering – because, YES, it is suffering – and do you know what?
I am learning that, simple enough, I can praise God in this.
And if you are suffering alongside me, guess what?
You can, too.
You can fight this. You can endure this. You can love and minister to your family through this. You can pursue holiness in this. You can go to church like this. Why? Because, if you have been called out, God WILL keep you through this. Hormones are not too big for Him. They never have been, and they never will be.
Mrs. Gore is marching to Zion, and I’m taking my hormones and my kids and my husband with me, and I hope you’ll go with us.
I’ll bring the box fan if you’ll bring the tissues.