My daughter is 11 and 1/2 (the half is important while you are under 18), has started middle school, and is now subject to hormonal mood swings. I, on the other hand, am 45 (and 1/4) and am now subject to peri-menopausal mood swings. This must make life interesting for my husband.

I don’t think I ever fully appreciated what a mood swing looks like from the outside before. Watching my daughter go from being her usual cheerful, sunny self to a weeping, shrieking stranger, I am often torn between being irritated, amused and completely flabbergasted. The Buddha-calm and hyper-rationality I have been cultivating escapes me occasionally, but I am trying.

A big problem with surfing her changes is that I have absolutely no memory of this from my childhood. I am sure I experienced puberty for lo, here I am a mother, but I can’t dreg up a single memory. Not when I got my first period, when I first dated, wore makeup, kissed a boy – nada. Either it was a completely insignificant or horrific to the point that it is in the sealed Jumanji box in my mind. I’m going with insignificant. I have a swiss cheese memory. So my daughter asks me questions and I have to say “I can’t remember honey” which is totally plausible to her because I forget things like my wedding anniversary and my age on a regular basis.

So I do what I always do. Got a problem? Throw a book at it!

I’m bad with religion and spirituality, nothing resonates as true or useful to me, and honestly it may be that Catholic indoctrination worked like a vaccine on me, but I can always get behind good, solid research. And people publish research every day. There is always a new possibility for understanding self and others a mere 400 pages away. Defensive reading. Never saw that on a library poster in a school hallway.

The real joy (and sadness) of raising children is that you relive those sections of your life right along with them. And hopefully you see that you survived, thrived and came out the other side a (somewhat) functioning adult. I don’t know if I am willing to open the Jumanji box “ages 11 – 14”. Would it benefit her or me? Maybe I don’t have a choice. Maybe menopause starts those drums that draw you inexorably to open all the boxes and see what happens. Half a life, half a life, half a life onward, – with apologies to Lord Tennyson. Did anyone else have to memorize that in English class?