My mother was just a year or two older than I am now when she told me something I hadn't expected. I was 35 years old, and she was 62. I was supposedly in my prime and I guess I bought the common "wisdom" that she was ... well ... past hers.
We'd been friends for many years, and I'd have said I'd seen firsthand from her what it is to be a woman over the age of 50, by the time I was in my early 30s. But she surprised me when she told me that she was much healthier in her 60s than she had been as a younger woman.
When she was raising her children, she was chronically exhausted and most of her attention was continually going to someone(s) else.
She was running on too little sleep, had way too much to do, and was the family cook, chauffeur, accountant, counselor ... you know the drill.
At 62, she loved seeing her grandchildren but the intensity of raising kids 24/7 was now a thing of the past. Much of her time was her own, and she and my step-dad were free to travel and spend their days as they saw fit.
I had to admit, I had been envying her the amount of sheer leisure time she had, compared to mine. There was a marked scarcity of leisure in the face of seemingly constant life-changing decisions and challenges in my own crowded and hectic life.
She told me that the ups and downs and transition of menopause were well behind her. Hormonal changes were no longer dramatic or erratic.
She was less likely to come down with a virus or drag on with an illness. She was less likely to catch something — for one thing because she no longer had children who would bring a steady run of sickness home from school with them.
I'd have to say that my experience agrees with what my mom told me a quarter of a century ago.
I have some unpleasant quirks that mess up my health, some of them major — problems with inflammation and living with ME/CFS. But I had them long before menopause age. And even these things are less problematic now than they were 20-odd years ago.
Some of the easing up at this phase of life occurs because of factors other than hormones, of course.