I am a monster. For several days in any given month, PMS strikes making me irritable, emotional, and generally just not a pleasure to be around. This in no way makes me unique AT ALL, but I belong to the collective that transforms from a cuddly duckling to a raging werewolf and back again without even noticing. Some women progress through their monthly cycles without any real impacts to their attitude and without causing distress in others that have the misfortune to be in their presence. I accept that I am not one of those women even though it’s somewhat of an out of body experience. I get my period and the haze of fury has lifted and I think Oh, did I really bite my dog and try to kick a baby bird? Of course when I was in the moment I was thinking That bitch was looking at me sideways and Tweety had it coming with all that early morning chirping. This is why being on a big family trip in the days before my period probably should have been avoided. Alas, not everything can work around the schedule of my lady bits.
We rented a house for 15 people in Fort Lauderdale. It was beautiful and spacious and had its own pool. My husband and I were given a bedroom, complete with an en suite bathroom on the opposite end of the hall, providing us with plenty of privacy. This would not be enough to quell the hormone beast that would rage inside of me during the second half of the week.
One of the best things about vacation is hopping in the pool with your kiddos and seeing them splash around and act as if being immersed in water is some sort of magic. When you’re in the throes of PMS, it becomes one of the worst things about vacation. When I should have been excited about watching my kids meet the milestone of swimming in the deep end without floaties or pool noodles to assist them, the beast caused severe aggravation every time I heard “Look at me!” and “Wanna see my trick?” The beast could not see the majesty of a seven year old going under water facing me but emerging facing the other direction. Let’s face it; it’s not that impressive. The beast said with bored sarcasm, “Congratulations, you turned around.” I am already not one of those mothers that think everything their kid does is awesome, but those days of Aunt Flo lurking over my shoulder just waiting to make her grand entrance had me flat out annoyed. PMS barely wanted to look up from her book because seven year-olds swimming is not that awesome. Show her a 6 month-old who can pull off an Olympic style swan dive and THEN she’ll be captivated.
I should have known it was PMS when I got all pissed off that my husband dared to mention that he sometimes has to get up on a Saturday morning to buy eggs. In our household it is my responsibility to do the grocery shopping. Every now and then if we run out of an item before my planned shopping trip, he may go out to get it, or pick it up on his way home from work. For some reason, his acknowledgement of this fact sent me into a tail-spinning fury. How dare he make it seem like I’m lazy and do nothing around the house? How dare he question my suitability as a wife in front of my family? I cook. I work. I care for children. I clean. I get the damn eggs! Him commenting that he ever steps foot into a grocery store was a complete assault of my ability to function in society as an adult and I was FURIOUS. That’ll teach him to claim credit for ANYTHING 3-5 days before my period!
One of the beautiful, sunny mornings when I woke up and went into the bathroom my bad mood was set off early because our eastern facing glass block window allowed the sun to beam directly into my face. I felt like a vampire being put into a death chamber to fry into ashes upon the rising of the sun. I’m telling you, it was seriously bright. So bright I thought I had died and the portal into heaven was the bathroom door. I knew this was no way to start my day and needed alone time. I crept down the stairs (of course creeping meant nothing because in a house of 15 people there were already at least 5 people awake and in the common area) to get a bowl of cereal and then retreat to my fortress of solitude. As soon as I got snuggled back into bed and drifting back to sleep, I hear my mother yell my name from the kitchen. I stood at the top of the stairs yelling, “WHAT?!?!” No answer. She does this all the time. She screams someone’s name and then when you shout back, she goes deaf. I know she does this on purpose so you will come to her because she knows once you trudge all the way to her, the likelihood of you denying whatever request she has is significantly reduced if she can look you in your face. I am not fooled. She’s been doing this all my life. Her request was for me to butter the biscuits she made… Umm let me get this straight… You called me from the bed to come and put butter on biscuits when there are no less than 5 people right here in your line of sight? She answered, “I didn’t think you would mind.” HAVE WE MET?! To this day I can’t look a biscuit in the eye without feeling rage.
By the final day of the trip, PMS reached a crescendo. My skin felt too tight for my own body as I began to bloat and I was certain that 15 people breathing my air and assaulting my ears with their voices was the reason I wanted to run off screaming into the street. I went to sit outside and get some air alone and 6 people followed me. Someone please put me on a plane!!! By Monday, Aunt Flo showed up and the revelation hits me Ohhhh… that’s what that was all about!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family fiercely. I miss them every day that I am not with them. I feel left out of their activities because I live in another state. They are my best friends. I had some really good moments on the trip, but for much of the time, I was not there. The PMS monster was taking my place. I’m sorry to my family that I’m an asshole sometimes. The good thing about family is that I also brush it off and forgive it when it’s their turn to be assholes. Let’s do a vacation do-over… but let me consult my menstrual calendar first.