April Showers Brings May….. Gogatsu-byou?

Show of hands- who gets crabby in May?

I’m 54 years old and just found out that condition I have suffered from each and every May that I can remember has a name. I’ve heard a nasty rumor that Offsprings 1 and 2 refer to it as “May Madness.” It’s the time of year I grow horns, a pitch forked tail, and a penchant for reacting to everything with four letter words in unusual yet creative combinations. This seems to be the go to look on my face during this time frame.


One of the OS was getting an ass chewing and the other thought it would be funny to take a picture.

When I first started practicing yoga, the instructor, instead of giving me helpful tips, told me,

“Your body will tell you what you need to work on.”

Since this occurred during May, my initial instinct was to punch her in the third eye. However, being familiar with just how mean I am during the month of May, I just smiled without showing my teeth. The Japanese call it a “Blue Smile.” (Topic for another post) I left the yoga class, backed in to the car parked behind me, and promptly forgot to pick up Offspring #1 at baseball practice in order to take him to track practice somewhere else. Because in May, all the schedules change.



Schedules apparently change for people all over this planet in May. In Japan, the schedules change in April and the effect is felt in May. What I felt, and what so many others do as well, has a name in Japanese. Gogatsu-byou, or May Sickness. I’m relieved to know that not only do other people share my May Malaise, it has a name. It’s, therefore, real, and not something I conjured during a night sweat.

In Japan, several events converge in the May time frame. For kids in school, the new school year starts in April. All parents know that kids are usually fine for the first month, back with friends, work is pretty low key. By May, the realization hits that it is, in fact, a new year. There’s a national holiday during May called “Golden Week.” New college graduates all start new jobs in April, take a break for Golden Week, go back to their new job in May, and realize they are now part of the working world. And depending on how old school you are in Japan, that means with that same company … for life.

And they get depressed. Think about eating in the same cafeteria, every day of your life, for the next fifty years. I’d get sick of a few things on the menu. What if you’re not fond of your colleagues? They’re also there- for life. Yours and theirs.

And so, for good reason, the term Gogatsu-byou was born to put a name on the funk that May brings.

The route to Gogatsu-byou for me is a little different, but even though I’m not Japanese I’m still claiming it. Unlike the Japanese, I get pissy in May just because my routine changes. Kids are home from school, doing their activities which require adjustments of dinner times, bed times, whatever. My body told me in yoga, when my mind wasn’t willing the clock to fast forward time by an hour, that I was inflexible. Both in mind and body. There- I’ve said it. I don’t like May because I have to adjust.

Knife to the heart.

And this May is a momentous one for the Clampitts. Offspring #1, of whom many of you know through this blog, is graduating from college, and has a job.

And is moving.

And potentially never coming home again.

So this May, I’m not just a fire spewing monster, I’m being more dramatic about it.

This year the gogatsu-byou is shared by hordes of my friends, many of whom are in the same position. We’ve become equal parts of crazy eyed witch and teary starry eyed parent.

In a way, it feels good. I’m thrilled OS#1 is off and running. I’m equally thrilled that I’m upset that he won’t be able to come home as much. What if I needed to nail the door shut after he left to keep him from coming back? All the times I heard,

“You’re the meanest ma every!” were worth it. He turned out pretty good.

For me, for this year, gogatsu-byou, has a nice counter balance.

More on it:

A Japanese Word for May – Coto Japanese Academy

The Sickness That Strikes Japan Each and Every May 

 Gogatsubyo or May Sickness by Efrott Weiss






This entry was posted in Culture, Moving, Moving Lesson, Offspring, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to April Showers Brings May….. Gogatsu-byou?

  1. Wonderful, charming, deliciously funny. So nice to read you again. Congrats on OS 1, yes you did well! Enjoy your Gorgonzola ..uh..Ggogatsu-byou,,to the max. The worse thing about being 72 and retired is there is little to get bitchy about (except politics, failing bodies, traffic, aches, people,) but nothing delicious and fun. You, as always brighten my day!


  2. Megan Melle says:

    I love reading your blogs! They consistently find a way to put a smile on my face and lighten my day!
    May madness is the worst!!!


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