By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
I believe in karma – also known as the law of “what goes around comes around.” And years ago, when I was young and stupid, I set myself up for some bad karma – karma that has now shown up to kick me squarely in the keester.
When I was in my teens and early twenties, I didn’t believe in a well-documented female phenomenon – pre-menstrual syndrome. (More than half the men reading this column just sprinted into the next room. If you stuck with me, keep reading. I promise not to be gross, and I bet this info will be enlightening.)
I believed PMS was something women made up so we’d have a good excuse to be moody for a few days each month and get away with it. I was one of those lucky few who was hormonally well-balanced and therefore assumed it didn’t really exist.
Oh, boy. Was I wrong.
Since those foolish twenty-something days, three things have happened: I got older. I had three kids. And I got a visit from bad karma. Now I can say, unequivocally, that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. PMS is for REAL.
I’m not sure for whom I feel sorrier – we women who suffer through it or the men and children who have to live with us. It’s bad all around, that’s for sure. Remember that old TV commercial that warned teenagers about drug use? It showed a guy standing in the kitchen over a stove. He held up an egg and said “This is your brain.” Then he cracked the egg into a hot skillet and the camera zoomed in as it started to fry. Then he said, “This is your brain on drugs.”
That same commercial could be an excellent public service announcement about PMS, too. The guy could scramble the egg and then douse it with Tabasco sauce to illustrate what PMS hormones do to otherwise lovely women. They turn us into a hot, scrambled, angry mess.
A few weeks ago, it was so bad for me that I felt like someone else had moved into my body – an irrational, short-tempered shrew of a woman who couldn’t stand the sound of her own name. There were moments when I thought, “If I hear somebody whine the word “Mom” one more time, my head is going to explode.” It was like I’d taken a big dose of crazy and couldn’t shake the nasty side effects.
So what’s an innocent, by-standing husband supposed to do? Other than moving to Canada, there’s not much he can do besides duck for cover and wait for the storm to pass. His chances of getting through those few days unscathed will definitely go up if he does a few extra, unsolicited chores around the house. It may not be fair, but it’s a fact.
The very worst thing a man can do when faced with a hormonal woman is accuse her of being hormonal. One has to remember that a hormonal woman is NEVER going to agree that it’s “just the hormones talking.” That admission only comes after the chemical wave has washed back out to sea.
It’s also wise to remember that a woman fighting off a case of PMS is a loner. She just needs a little down time, a little quiet space to be alone and shelter what’s left of her composure. She knows the slightest little offense can provoke the PMS beast to come out of its cave swinging, and she genuinely doesn’t want that to happen. That’s why it’s good to give her a wide berth, and don’t “poke the bear,” as they say.
Truth be told, most women can completely sympathize with the Incredible Hulk, who was actually a very nice, mild-mannered man 98 percent of the time. But he had those days, you see, when somebody went too far and triggered a chemical reaction in him that turned him into a green destructive beast in ripped jeans. Perhaps hormonal women everywhere could borrow a line from Bruce Banner and warn those around us by using his ominous line: “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”