When I was in high school, I fell madly in love with Rocky Balboa. I set up camp in our local dollar theater when “Rocky” came to town. I’m pretty sure they thought about calling the police.
While part of the attraction had to do with the biceps and soulful eyes of Sylvester Stallone, there was more to the story, which was, the story. The character of Rocky represented the classic formula of change — his life was disrupted by change, he faced multiple challenges, he failed repeatedly, and he emerged a stronger person.
I will forever cherish the montage:
This montage made me think about so many of the life experiences and battles I’ve had as a woman:
- I entered the ring of motherhood with the confidence of someone who has no knowledge of her opponent. I wore maternity tops with big bows and looked like a clown for nine months. Rather than getting in fighting shape I ate oven fries every night at 11:00 p.m. and gained 44 lbs.
- I came home from the hospital in an old, worn-out sweat suit that looked a lot like Rocky’s. I survived both a broken tailbone and breastfeeding the wrong baby. I thought the hardest part was over, but it was just a preview for my own training montage.
- I established my training routine about the time my daughter declared the second round. I jogged around the neighborhood hoping to avoid the 44 lbs I gained with my son. They followed me like those kids in the Rocky sequel and eventually caught me.
- My second bout in the delivery room was much easier than the first, and I arrived home with tremendous confidence.
- My daughter proved a worthy opponent. She was a night owl, and would finally drift off at 3:30 a.m. My son would wake up at 5:30 a.m. full of energy. I wanted to knock them both out.
- Several years in, a new opponent called “starting my own business” showed up. This became my Apollo Creed, and I made through all fifteen rounds.
- My kids both graduated from high school, and I found myself without a worthy opponent. I started to relax and get out-of-shape. Then menopause stepped into the ring.
- Much like Mr. T, menopause was not very friendly and weighed on me like the chains around his neck. I didn’t want to get out of bed or off of the couch. I craved chocolate. I did a lot of sweating and stopped sleeping.
- Just like Rocky, I realized that this battle was not for the weak of heart or flabby of body. I discovered hot yoga to spit in the eye of hot flashes, and began to make myself move when I didn’t feel like it. I stopped defining myself by my kids alone. I looked for new friends and opportunities.
After two years, I’m still hot but not so bothered. I am beginning to see the steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art ahead and I’m ready to run up them and throw my arms in the air.
Then I remember that there were like fifteen Rocky sequels, and I realize that the reason we’re so strong is because life challenges us every step of the way.
We could choose to give up, but we won’t. Because we’re women of wisdom and experience. Because we’re Dames. Because raw eggs and side cramps and a few blows to the gut won’t stop us.
We’re Rocky. The menopausal sequel. And we are climbing those stairs together.