PMS or Dreadful New Personality?

One of the interesting things about being in my forties and starting the slow boat to periomenopause is that I have only the vaguest idea of when my Ladies’ Holiday will land, which means that I have the alarming experience of not knowing if My Mood is the result of the upcoming aforementioned Holiday, or if I have this whole new awful personality.

Now, before I get to what I am going to call The Coleslaw Incident, I feel that I need to digress a moment. Because of the vast amount of time I spend in the kitchen, both because a) I enjoy it and b) I am a food blogger, my family has become terribly spoiled, like one of those wretched turn-of-the-21st-century Park Avenue children, but with food. Examples: a) my children are surprised that you can purchase items like Caesar salad dressing and spaghetti sauce already made, b) there are no fewer than five homemade ice cream flavours in the freezer at any given time, c) they think store-bought ice cream is a depressing imitation of homemade, and d) when we are out of homemade jam, Jake refuses to eat any at all, preferring plain peanut butter toast to the apparent atrocity that is a spoonful of Smucker’s. But for every rule there is an exception, and in this case, it is coleslaw.

Coleslaw is something I do not eat. I don’t like it, I don’t like the texture, I don’t like the taste. My husband and kids, however, love it but have had problems trying to land on the perfect recipe. They’ve tried cookbooks, the internet, and my mother-in-law, but have been unable to get the perfect coleslaw dressing. That is, until we were at a barbeque at a friend’s house. My husband asked the hostess how to make the dressing on her coleslaw, and her response was, “Are you serious? It’s PC brand from Superstore.”

So here we were coming up to Father’s Day weekend, and my husband decided on Thursday that he wanted to spend his Father’s Day cooking a brisket for eight hours on the charcoal grill, and he would also make a coleslaw to go with it. I’m not sure why he wanted to spend all day grilling but hey, it’s his day. I eat neither of those things, but it’s not my special day, so whatever floats the boat. The kids were thrilled with the prospect of grilled meat and coleslaw.

Thursday night I came home from my yoga teacher training, and my husband asked if I had happened to pick up a bottle of coleslaw dressing. Now, in my defense, I had no notice that this was needed and also, it was almost 9:30 on a Thursday. Those who know me well know that it isn’t well advised to talk to me after nine o’clock on any day. I’m basically in a coma by then, or extremely put out that I am still vertical. Since I had just gotten home, it was the latter.

My husband suggested that I could maybe pick up a bottle, since no other kind would do. Normally, I would say okay, and pop out to the store as soon as it was convenient. But as I said, I was exhausted, it’s nearing the end of June, there are teacher gifts and end-of-school celebrations, I am busy with teacher training and staining the deck every spare moment, and as always, there is much to do keeping up with the one million things that come up in a household and when working from home. Going to Superstore to get coleslaw dressing seemed to be a bridge too far. And for some reason, in my sleep-deprived mind, this seemed less like a request than an Accusation That I Am Not Properly Running The Household Because We Are Out Of Coleslaw Dressing And All Is Ashes. As I melted down a little, my husband suggested that I must be kind of tired, and maybe should go to bed.

The next day, I was cognizant of my over-the-top irritation but that didn’t stop me from being irritable. My husband suggested that perhaps my Ladies’ Holidays were due, which led, as you can imagine, to MORE irritation. Sadly, in retrospect, he was wrong. It is just my horrible new personality.

But I carved out a few extra minutes in my Friday, and decided to run over to Superstore for the dressing. After all, I thought, with just one item I could pop in and pop out, and in total, including driving time, it would be thirty minutes out of my day. I could spend thirty minutes to make three people in the house very happy, especially with it being Father’s Day and all. So I drove over, ran in, grabbed a bottle of dressing and four pounds of strawberries – I am not made of stone, who among us can go into Superstore and get only one thing – and then hopped over to the 12 Items or Less line. There were only three people in front of me and not one had more than four things, so it seemed to be the place to be.

In retrospect, I should have been suspicious that people were avoiding that line.

It turns out the fellow at the front of the line had been there a while. By the time I had set down my items, he was in the midst of debating credit card usage, wondering why they didn’t take Visa, contemplating an application for a PC Mastercard, asking about PC Points, and thinking seriously about The Deal of the Day. Finally he finished buying his Romaine lettuce and box of crackers, asked for cash back, and slowly made his way out of there. The woman in front of me looked at me, rolled her eyes, and sighed loudly, which summarized the scenario quite nicely. The next guy? I knew we were in trouble when he brought out a flyer and started pointing to specific pictures and loudly asking questions.

I like to think of myself as a fairly patient person. If I am behind an elderly person who is fumbling with getting the exact change and who takes 20 minutes to buy a carton of eggs, I have all the time in the world; after all, we may all be that person one day if we are lucky. If I have a mother with small screaming children behind me in line I will always give up my spot for her because I was that person not so terribly long ago. But when I pop in to get one (okay, two) things at Superstore and someone is taking that much time in the express line because they are unaware of and are debating the store policy on credit cards, well.

I am happy to report that I did make it out alive, but not without doing some ujjayi breathing and thinking there will be a time after Superstore. And even more happy to report that my efforts were not in vain; the coleslaw was enjoyed by all. I also managed to catch up on sleep on the weekend and so was Much Less Irritable. Maybe I don’t have a terrible new personality after all.


  1. Perimenopause is hell, especially if you are like me and have it for 10+ years. Yes you read that correctly, but then menopause hits, and no more lady friend. Life is good.

  2. Kimberly says

    Ah yes….that moment when your husband suggests, very gently and politely, that you should check your calendar. And when that calendar TELLS YOU NOTHING, all IS ashes…..

  3. I’d have no idea when my period was coming either, except that about a week before my face looks like a seventeen year old’s on a bad skin day. That’s a new development, a few years into this adventure.

  4. I had the Horrible New Personality for a couple of YEARS, and when I started lamenting this aloud with friends, several (MANY) told me that antidepressants help. It took me another couple of years to decide to go ahead and try it. I was terrified about mucking about with my brain chemistry. Plus also, I was grouchy, not depressed. I’ve been taking them about a year and a half now, and I’m happy to report that it has made a big difference. I know taking a long term med is a big decision, but it might be something to consider.

  5. Oh so timely, this post, as I suddenly found myself with the terrible new personality today at work. My perimenopause varies month to month; some months I have nausea for a week and then bleed, some months I have nothing but depression, some months if I am on Maui I bleed a week early. Today — not nauseous! not depressed! So grumpy though! — I went out in search of some fries at lunchtime and there were tourists everywhere and if I’d been wearing pointier shoes I would have kicked them. I was just in that kind of mood. But I did some deep breathing on the bus home (though it did stink a lot) and by the time I got to the kids I was all sorted.

    I hope that coleslaw was damn perfect, is all I’m saying. For what you went through.

  6. Oh, AND one of my real tip offs lately that the blood is about to begin is I get incredibly sensitive to smell. Like I can tell you ate onions a week ago and forgot your underarm deodorant and have tomatoes in your lunch, fellow commuter, kind of sensitive. It’s freaky.

  7. Right now I’m overdue for shark week and reading this post and thinking about how I almost never blog anymore even though I really love it when I do, and I need to do a shit-ton of coursework this week and I just want to lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling and some of my flowers are dying even though the exact same flowers that get the exact same care are doing fine right beside them and JESUS CHRIST WHY DOES EVERYTHING SUCK SO MUCH?

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