I was still in my twenties when my mother declared I was entering menopause.

Throughout my life, I’ve been plagued by bouts of anxiety, which are sometimes accompanied by hot flashes and dizzy spells. During one such incident, I made the mistake of complaining to my mother. “I feel so hot,” I remarked innocently, “and I’m dizzy. I need to sit down.”

“You’re going through your change,” she advised me. “That’s why you’re having hot flashes and dizzy spells.”

“But,” I protested, “I’m not even thirty yet.” I wasn’t horrified at the thought that I might be entering a phase of my life when fertility was no longer an issue, but I was surprised. Surely, a twenty-something was bound to endure decades more of uncomfortable periods and the threat of unwanted pregnancy before the relief of menopause set in.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s your change.” That’s what she called menopause — “the change.” My mother didn’t go through her “change” until she was in her fifties. Nonetheless, from that day until more than a decade later, she insisted that my change was waiting just around the corner. When more than ten years passed with no more than the sporadic hot flash or dizzy spell as evidence of such, she finally gave up. It still hasn’t happened.

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