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Smell the Coffee: I'm not taking this 'pause' very well

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I don't want it.

Doesn't matter. Now you can't have it.

Wait!

But you said you didn't want it anyway, so why does it matter?

Because it needs to stay my choice forever.

***

So I have these arguments with myself. The semi-sane voice of reason takes on my internal unreasonable 4-year-old self, who is occasionally egged on by the hormonal insomniac.

"There's one last Otis Spunkmeyer banana nut muffin in the cabinet," the hormonal insomniac will whisper (sometimes repeatedly) to the 4-year-old me.

"Those have gluten!" screams Semi-Sane. "You'll get sick!"

But the hormone queen will insist it's a lie, will recall the joy of peeling away the muffin wrapper to eat the bottom half first. Save the top part for last. It might get ugly and there could be name calling and if the irresponsible side wins, there's the inevitable (and thoroughly unsatisfying) "I told me so" at the end, when Reason proves she was right.

I don't know how it works for everyone else, but that's a simplified version of the inner workings of this particular Fuller's head. Lately, though, the conversation's been even less sensible.

It began with a convergence of things. A friend's pregnancy. Some upcoming weddings. Shower invitations.

Joining the committee to plan Nitro High's 30-year class reunion.

Followed by blood test results indicating I'm at the earliest tip of menopause.

They call it "perimenopause," tacking on that peri part to make it sound all happy and light when really, it should warn of the peril of perishing from a pierced peritoneum to those within a particular perimeter.

I'm not taking it well.

It's those voices -- mostly that bratty insomniac -- that like to poke me with the word, like to make me feel old.

Like to remind me that the decision not to have any more babies isn't mine to make anymore. Doesn't matter that I decided not to have any more children almost a decade ago. That I had my tubes tied to make sure. Doesn't matter that the idea of caring for another pet makes me swoon with fatigue, much less the idea of a newborn.

It's having it no longer be my decision.

Last night, my 14-year-old daughter came bopping into our bedroom while we were watching TV just to say hi and, like a million other times since we first met, I was stunned near to tears by her beauty. She's in a good mood pretty much all the time. Not just pleasant, but buoyantly happy. She makes me feel successful in a way nothing else ever will.    

When I was at the doctor's office, there were these impossibly young-looking pregnant women in the waiting room, and I realized I'm so thoroughly no longer a part of that world. I've aged out of it. For me, there are no more car seats and play dates and comparing milestones. Now it'll be car dates and play rehearsals and comparing colleges. Still, I've reached that part of parenting where I have time to myself again, even if much of that alone time is spent in the car driving home from the mall.

It's said that a new baby reinvents your world. So, too, does the absence of that possibility.

The thing is, I like where I am. Mostly even like who I am now. So why am I sad?

I think it's that I wasn't ready to be done playing Santa. Wasn't ready to stop having to undress the poor dogs or clean bubbles off the ceiling and toothpaste off my shoulder.

It's going too fast.

And she's my only one.

And always will be.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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