The Grandmother Hypothesis


It’s never a good sign when things start falling before ten in the morning. The new umbrella fell over and broke the porch lamp, then Larry cut his finger on a broken water glass that fell off the table, and the plastic owl my mother gave us as a housewarming gift, fell off its perch, landing in the lake. At least that was retrievable. 

For the record, I didn’t want to write about any of this, even as my unfaithful fingers seemed to gravitate to the keyboard. I resisted, flipping on the Property Brothers, gorging on sliced cheddar and Triscuits, followed by a cold swig of Sauvignon Blanc. I’m all about distraction, but signs are signs, and they only get louder if you ignore them. 

Do you ever ask yourself what does ‘this thing’ mean? I thought so. And by ‘this thing’ I mean who the hell came up with all these natural laws? Natural laws that nobody breaks, like gravity, electromagnetism, and children who grow into adults without permission? 

It’s a total design flaw, oh how I rallied against it, but nevertheless Her plan prevailed. God’s ability to compromise is negligible, it’s borderline abusive, and She has absolutely no remorse. I didn’t call on her for weeks. 

One by one my pimple faced kids packed up their rooms, thanked me for filling the tank, and drove away. I was abandoned like the unmatched socks, stained t-shirts, and worn tennis shoes left in the back of the closet.

I stumbled around trying to find my way in this uncomplicated world. What the hell do I do now? Who am I? What do I like to eat? I had not only televisions to myself, but entire rooms, and spaces of time that felt eternal. If this seems like a good thing, it’s not.

I thought I might be losing my mind but it was my motivation that went missing. As you know my navigational skills are inadequate, directionless is pretty descriptive of this particular passage, but so is miserable, and manic.

Pity parties seemed the responsible thing to do, there were regulars who showed up with wine, wisdom, and tissues. I found out after a good snivel my children were still gone?

My world was without form or shape, darkness prevailed, and a mighty silence swept through the house. I needed a new cosmology, one that wasn’t dominated by a fruitful contagion, something more nuanced, fermented, aged. I went in search of a new firmament or means of support.

Are you with me?

I tried everything, I went back to school, I got a job (where I could play with other peoples children), I even started a blog for goodness sakes. I made reservations for dinner, joined a few wine clubs, we even bought a lake house, hoping it would attract my bestrewn children.

Like Jacob and Rachel, my tribe has scattered, although some of them cycled back for brief durations, they continued to put distance between our homes. I started plugging in their coordinates on my weather app so I knew what time it was in Australia, the temperature in Boston, the chance of precipitation in Willow Glen, and if there was rain in the forecast for Fresno. 

We took up traveling, dropping into their lives for quality time, getting to know them again, and all those painful good-byes only meant our time together was well spent. They are happy, thriving, living out their dreams. Screw the lengthy distance, if they’re happy, I’m happy, it’s only space (big little lies). 

This is when the tsunami hit, I found myself sweating in the middle of winter, couldn’t sleep for more than a two hour stretch, or decide on a particular mood, and never mind the unwarranted belly fat. My hair, skin, muscles, and bones staged a coup and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I took walks, ate kale, drank lots of water. It didn’t help.

“Oh no, honey. Lots of women go through it early. Why, there was this woman over in Georgia who was only thirty-six-years-old and one day she got in her car and drove right up the stairs to the county courthouse, rolled down her window, and tossed her husband’s head that she had just chopped off in her kitchen at a State policeman and hollered, “Here! This is what you wanted,” and drove right back down the courthouse stairs. Now that’s what an early menopause will do for you if you’re not careful,” notes Fannie Flagg.

Larry started hiding the kitchen knives?

I think it noteworthy that aging female whales also experience a hormone imbalance during their twilight years? The interesting thing is whales become leaders in their pods, whereas humans go on hormone replacement, and start searching the yellow pages for a good therapist? We have an odd response to aging in our society, tackle the symptoms, hide the evidence. It’s as if we’re disposable after fifty?

But wait, in the middle of all this menopausal unrest, I stumbled on a theory! The most prevalent premise behind menopause is called the grandmother hypothesis. In short, it suggests females may stop breeding to help their children and grandchildren survive and reproduce. Do you understand the implications here? I didn’t either.

Full disclosure, just when I thought it would never end, Larry started putting the knives back on the counter, and let me just say the ease of living without fluctuating hormones is pretty damn marvelous. Guess what, there are thirty days in the month, darkness is a blessing, and my body temp is back to normal. I still hate kale.


In a world where my value was based on the productivity of my womb no wonder I had a meltdown when my ovaries died? While the chasm opened up that divide in my garden, and all my perky parts began to fall, I became a mother again. 

Yes, it’s true. With the birth of my daughter’s daughters, I’m no longer a detriment to the ecosystem, like reusable containers I’ve been repurposed, restored, and revitalized. 

Maybe it wasn’t a design flaw after all? Gravity keeps us grounded, electromagnetism provides the needed attraction, and children grow up and have children! I can’t say it enough, motherhood the second time around is pretty damn sweet, nothing falls out of your honeypot, and no stretch marks. 

Happy Mother’s Day All!




I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, you can help me organize my tupperware. 


Anecdotes:

  • “I’m what is known as perimenopausal. “Peri”, some of you may know, is a Latin prefix meaning ‘SHUT YOUR FLIPPIN’ PIE HOLE”.” Celia Rivenbark
  • “The first indication of menopause is a broken thermostat. It’s either that or your weight. In any case, if you don’t do something, you could be dead by August.” Dorothea Benton Frank
  • “The goal is to get your estrogen where it should be so you don’t have to hang out in social support groups that do nothing but chew the cud on how miserable they are without estrogen.” Marie Hoäg




2 Comments

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  1. Let it be known….!There was never an instance in the past 50 years where I thought there would be even the slightest chance of me writing a response to a blog post that was primarily about the ravages of menopause (or is it mynopause?) Zero chance, nada, no fricking way. Yet here I am. I guess that’s what 7 hours on a tractor will do to you. (Cutting the weeds, disking the field, fertilizing the field and then sowing the corn. One’s mind can wander.)So, what do I have to add? Not much. Oh, I could write about how you again snuck in the feminine gender pronoun in regard to God. I could point out that that is so 70’s (hear me roar!) The current trendy gender dysphoria/hoopla is more about gender self-identification. The New York Times generally recommends asking the being if said being prefers he, she, it (?), or they. They also consider Mr., Mrs., and Mx (WTF?). But I am not going to write about that. Nope, not my thing. I agree that the loss of fertility in women as they age does seem to avail them with the opportunity to focus on the well-being of grand kids. Natural selection, survival of the species, etc., kind a cool. (not the part about things “falling out of the honey pot.”) And I totally agree that grandparenthood indeed rocks! I could also discuss this ad nauseum, especially with regards to my awesome granddaughter, but..Nooope. I go off on tangents. It’s what I do. Time for the guy perspective! And not about their suffering as their partner/spouse goes through menopause (hide the knifes, the remote and lock the thermostat!), rather…., the dreaded ANDROPAUSE! The end of life as we know it! No energy, total depression, NO SEX DRIVE, massive weight gain etc., etc. Things that are supposed to be flexible are stiff, and things that are supposed to be hard are soft. In the guy no less. A disaster.Of course, I have the perfect song though I can’t totally recommend it as it is a touch vulgar. But as was said in Ricky Business, some times you gotta say “What the f..ck”The song is by Green Day, and the lyrics just crush it in terms of expressing an angry yet apathetic rage at the realization that life goes on and age happens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KErNUANjtwWhat?! Who am I kidding! Screw that. I am a Urologist! I can fix these problems. Better living through chemistry! Science! Keep going till one’s dying day. And as you once quoted Hunter Thompson: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming \”Wow! What a Ride!”Or as Wayne once said “Party on, Garth”AnecdotesLove the Property Brothers. Open concept!Love Sauvignon BlancLove your blog.Happy birthday.

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  2. Hello Michael, you are brave indeed to enter into this topic and give it the much needed male perspective! I'm so glad you did. Seven hours is a respectable amount of time to spend on a tractor letting your mind wander! Real thinking takes time, I can only imagine all the issues you must have solved in seven hours, or maybe those thoughts only served to entangle? Aside from the gender identification of God (which I deemed female given the subject) which is ever so illusive. I agree this whole loss of fertility has been an enormous gift. Freedom from the restraints of the youthful body and leaving behind the raging hormones no wander we've become an asset to the species, and whales become leaders of their pods!I think lowering our drive for for personal interests might allow for a deeper focus on the issues bigger issues which I have thus far been able to ignore? I'm not sure but it seems a viable theory? I haven't thought so much about the man's perspective on aging, functioning body parts, energy, weight gain, but it seems our worries, male and female, are beginning to align? This could be a good thing, like you and me against the world? And yes, most things can be chemically enhanced but what are the consequences? Maybe none. Maybe our attempt to control that which is out of our control might mean we're missing the message, the stage, the full experience of aging? Or maybe the hell with that. I'm sure the philosophers would have much to add to my queries but you can't deny the attraction of the proclamation, \”Wow! What a Ride!\” Thanks for your comments Mike and the birthday wishes! Miss you guys.

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