Who’s Cooking Dinner? (The Changing Female Brain)
‘What’s for dinner?’ asked my youngest son. ‘I have no idea’, I replied. ‘I’m not that kind of Mum anymore’.
Before you castigate me for being a bad mother, this youngest son is actually aged 19 and for a year lived away from home at College on another continent before he flew back to the nest!
Still, it did seem a bit strange even to me. Why had I gone from a stay-at-home Mom who played nurse, taxi, housekeeper, cook and Counsellor to ‘feeling’ almost completely disinterested in these roles?
I started to wonder if maybe I was depressed. But, in fact I was having the time of my life throwing myself into starting a new business with a good friend.
It just seemed that my ‘mojo’ had gone walkabout and found something that was more exciting and ‘fulfilling’ than my old role.
This ‘mojo’ was sticking like glue to what was becoming my ‘passion’ and did not seem keen on going back. It even looked up from its laptop and asked this son, ‘what’s for tea?’ when it heard that rattling pans in the kitchen!
Synchronicity then stormed into my life offering me a book called ‘The Female Brain’ by Louann Brizendine, M.D.
I delved straight into the chapter called ‘The Mature Female Brain’. Ha! What a thrill to discover that my brain was doing exactly what it was hormonally programmed to do, as it enters this large big hormonal phase of its life.
‘A woman becomes less interested in pleasing others and more interested in pleasing herself.’
This was music to my ears! This apparently newly landscaped brain of mine was no longer going to be thrown around by monthly hormonal surges but was morphing into a reliable, well run, less emotionally charged piece of anatomy.
So I was understanding that as these hormones stopped being produced, I was literally changing the way I was perceiving my reality. The changed inner world was creating change in my outer world.
Devouring Dr. Brizendine’s book was like reading a manual on my brain. How it was working and what to expect. And the expectations were looking extremely appealing!
No longer would I be so concerned with the minutia of my emotional life and that of my friends and children. No longer would I feel the need to ‘fix’ everyone.
The drop off in oestrogen led to a matching drop off in oxytocin – the ‘cuddle’ hormone that stimulates a need to ‘nurture’.
Hence my response when asked by my ever-hungry son, why the fridge was almost empty, ‘well clearly no one has been shopping and I am eating out tonight with my friends.’
If my brain is no longer hi-jacked by emotions lassoing itself to nurturing others, it can, wants to and is wired for (so no guilt required here ladies!) creating something new and wonderful in my own life.
On turning 50, that icon of the modern women Oprah Winfrey shared:
“I marvel that at this age I still feel myself expanding, reaching out and beyond the boundaries of self to become more enlightened. In my twenties I thought there was some magical adult age I’d reach (thirty-five, maybe) and my ‘adultness’ would be complete. Funny how that number kept changing over the years, how even at forty, labeled by society as middle-aged, I still felt I wasn’t the adult I knew I could be. Now that my life experiences have transcended every dream and expectation I ever imagined, I know for sure that we have to keep transforming ourselves to become who we ought to be.”
This new knowledge has confirmed for me, what I was already feeling but never quite understood emotionally. That I was now free to follow my passions, embrace the positive aspects of this physiological enforced ‘Change’ and live my life full out.
On some level, it feels as though there is a part of me that has been patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) waiting to arrive at this change in my inner terrain so that I could surge forwards into an unknown but expansive and exciting territory.
Adventures beckon…I have a whole new stage of life to lead and this time, it’s about me and I’m OK with that.
Photo by Andreas Øverland