The Madwoman in the Volvo

In her memoir, The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones, Sandra Tsing Loh makes it clear that menopause isn’t for the faint of heart. Not when one is also trying to balance raising children, running a household, paying a mortgage, holding down a career, and caring for an aging parent. Life doesn’t stop for menopause; it goes on in concert with the chaotic, bewildering emotional and physical changes.

Loh, a writer and performer, has a warts-and-all type of honesty, and by turns can be wickedly funny and poignant. A baby-boomer reared in Southern California, Loh confesses, without shame, that she can’t effortlessly balance multiple roles, that the burden is too heavy, that she feels too depressed to fix dinner, clean the house, pack lunches, run a fundraiser for the school music program, and look after her aging father. She needs someone to nurture her, to lighten her load, and to understand why she simply wants to stay in bed all day with the blinds drawn and the covers pulled over her head. 

And that desire isn’t a sign of failure, Loh asserts. Embrace the emotional chaos. Cut corners, lower the bar, say no. “The middle-aged women I know,” Loh writes, “clawing their way through this passage, have no rules — they glue themselves together with absolutely anything they can get their hands on.” Take heart, accept, and you can emerge on the far side of menopause, quite possibly as a more complete version of yourself. 


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