When I was at college I studied A-level psychology, and one morning our psychology lecturer told us a story about a friend of hers who was in his early 40’s.
Crissy’s friend was also a lecturer, in a different subject, and he had two children who were of school age. 6 and 9 or something. He and his wife were both in their 40’s and knew they would have no more children. So he took up a hobby. Making and painting garden gnomes.
Within a year his hobby turned into a little business, and he started to get orders in from garden centres and so on and making a little extra money out of this. This wasn’t the thing for him. He just enjoyed it. Each gnome was unique, hand painted, and he spent hours lovingly making sure each gnome looked it’s best. He said to Crissy that it was a calming, relaxing and very therapeutic process for him. He did it all in his shed and quite often talked to his gnomes as he painted them. And, each gnome, as he polished them up after the paint had dried and packed them into the box to send them off, was given a little pat on the head and told to take care as he sealed the box.
He admitted that, sometimes, as he sealed the box, he shed a tear.
My lecturer suggested to him, and to us in class that morning, that each gnome was, basically, a child. He knew he would never have any more children so set about ‘making’ some, for want of a better term. He was going through a male equivalent of the Menopause.
Now I know some people see a male equivalent as a menopause, a manopause if you will, as some greying guy buying a leather jacket against advice from friends and family, walking slowly past motorbike shops and looking longingly within, thinking about buying a sports car, you know the cliches, but perhaps Crissy was right. Perhaps this was his menopause.
A friend of a friend’s mum told me, in some detail, about her menopausal experiences and it sounded horrendous. She had a hard time with depression through hers and, while knowing about what can cause this moment in one’s life I asked her what kicked it all off.
‘That’s easy’ she said, ‘I know what caused mine. Let me just say that it’s no coincidence the first three letters of menopause are m-e-n.’
Crissy’s story came into my mind, this morning, 25 years after I heard it, as perhaps I’m going through something similar. Perhaps this blog is my manopause in written form . After all, I’m also ‘creating’ or ‘making’ something here. And while it’s about Life in general it did start off with me talking about parenting and being a father. And I still do, of course. I love writing about my children and the posts about Tiernan and Keela are the ones I think are my best.
But, is each blog post a gnome? Realistically speaking, I’ll probably not have any more children. I’m 41 after all, 42 in August and while I do try my best to look after myself, men in my family do have a rather alarming tendency to die youngish. My uncle was 56, my father was 62, my maternal grandfather was 64 and my paternal grandfather was 30 something. I don’t know much about him. All I know is he blew his own head off with a shotgun. By accident.
And so men in my gene pool have an alarming tendency to not see 70 AND terrible clumsiness, in the case of my father’s father, and so, without being bleak, and thinking too much about my mortality, which can frighten the heck out of me at times, I’m determined to look to the positives in each day, and enjoy life.
Oh shit, you, dear reader, are thinking. He’s going to tell us he’s about to buy a motorbike isn’t he?
No. Not quite.
What I mean is I’m determined to keep myself fit and healthy so I can see my children grow up into teenagers and young adults. Adults even. Heck, I’m determined to buck a trend here and stick around long enough to meet my children’s children, be a grandfather, because, as they don’t have any grandfathers, I’ve got to make sure their children have one. Watch them marry if they chose to, and cry like an eejit on the day, and throughout the day because my heart is bursting with pride.
And so I’ll eat healthily and exercise more. I cycle and run as it is and while cycling is dangerous I’m less reckless than I used to be. Running can be dangerous though, so I think I’ll change my routes and not do it in the dark perhaps. I once ran into a wheelie bin and I tell you, my life flashed before my eyes for a second.
What I’m basically saying in this little brain spaff of mine is this: if I am going through a manopause then I won’t be buying a sports car, taking up extreme sports such as free-running, Zumba or knitting, I shan’t be wearing strange bits of neck jewellery or getting my tallywhacker pierced. I shan’t be getting a tattoo of some inspiring quote on my arse, or buying a motorbike or anything stereotypically manopausal.
I’ll just blog about it. Or maybe take up making gnomes.
Is the manopause a common thing? Have I just made it up? Is there any medical evidence for such a thingy? Did I dream this story about the gnomes or do you know someone who is doing, or has done, something very similar? Please let me know via my comments portal. I need to know I’m not alone.
Thanks for reading.