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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Reason for Menopause - The Grandmother Hypothesis (And this isn't just for Grandmothers)

Know me for longer than a minute and there is an awareness of my need to know "why?"
Some folks have said to me...

"Why do you care so much?"

"Sometimes there isn't a reason or an answer...often the sun just comes up."

"I don't know, please just go to sleep" ( A phrase repeated from my mother when I was 5 and my husband a couple of days ago.)

I won't accept the premise some queries are not answerable. If there is enough information for a question, there is enough information for an answer.

So imagine my profound joy to find a reason for menopause. On paper menopause appears quite useless, but here was a scientific hypothesis for menopause instead of the cruel joke/fraternity prank I thought it was. If I sound less than grateful for the extra weight, loss of memory and skin elasticity, and often just the will to live I enjoyed 10 years ago.....Oops.

I met a brilliant woman at a writers conference (Bloggers after Midlife) who presented on a panel about the positive side of aging. Afterward we spoke for a few minutes and I told her the conversations my friends an I have about the effects of aging. I shared our inadequacies and sometimes sadness at being older. She steered me to a blogpost called the Grandmother Hypothesis. This new friend Lynne Spreen had written an intriguing blog you must read and consider. In her blog post menopausal women are asked to understand how essential they are to the survival of our species. She writes women live a full one third of their lives after child bearing years. If they were here only to reproduce then life spans would only be 35-40 years.

Post-menopausal females bring such a survival advantage to the tribe or pod (protecting and helping the young mothers, finding food, and anticipating danger), that it is equivalent in value to the ability to reproduce.
  • Think about how you protect and help young mothers.
  • Finding food - teaching them to cook, shop, garden, sew, euphemistically finding food can be education, wisdom and patterning of any kind.
  • Anticipating danger - I don't care how liberated you are, walking home in the dark alone is stupid, putting your hand in a lion's mouth or poking a bear with a stick rarely has a positive outcome. Great safety tips...
  • Think about menopause as valuable as reproducing.
I hope SURVIVAL ADVANTAGE TO THE TRIBE wasn't lost on you.

Before you let your emotional sweater snag on whether or not you reproduced, take that off your worry list right now. My stepmother did not reproduce yet she raised and taught me almost everything on Lynne's list.  Not to mention all the endless friends I have that are not biological mothers. But they are all mothers of one kind or another. 

It is exciting to consider a reason for menopause, with a new found purpose to look Menopause square in the face and give her a big kiss....even though she can be a bitch.