The MAD Goddess writes out loud with candor and humor about the changing landscape of life for women with retired husbands,
adult children, and grandchildren. It's not always a pretty story,
but it's usually pretty funny.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008


Made any resolutions yet for 2009? Is it just me, or does the promise of reward seem less worth the effort of consequential improvement the older we get?

Should I resolve to lose weight and get in shape? I’ve been on that roller coaster for the last ten years; it’s hardly fodder for New Year resolutions. Last year I enrolled in a fitness class called Ramping. It’s supposed to be the kinder, gentler version of step aerobics. I used to be coordinated. I used to have pretty good balance. I used to be able to follow a repeating pattern of steps and add the arm movements in sequence. I used to teach this stuff! But then, I used to know my left from my right.

Walking is good. I’m pretty sure I can still put one foot in front of the other. I’m told if I do it often enough I can stay fit and maintain my weight. If it gets too boring, I’ll try chewing gum at the same time.

I could strive to get organized, but every night that I go to bed and have to switch off the light reassures me that I am. If my belly is full, the furnace is still heating, the cable signal is being received, the internet is streaming, the dial-tone is buzzing, the cell phone is activated and the toilet is still flushing, I’m organized, darn-it. Those things are evidence that I continue to get up, get dressed, feed myself, work for money, buy food and clothing and remember to pay my bills on time. Anything beyond that is either a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder – or wealth.

The day that my linen closet boasts symmetrically folded and stacked towels with room to spare, or I can open the door of my medicine cabinet without a dozen bottles tumbling out, will be the day I’m making enough money to hire a full-time housekeeper. When I stop sending belated birthday cards, I’ll have added a personal assistant. And when I’m no longer searching frantically for my car keys in the hope of getting where I’m going on time, I’ll be sitting in the back seat of my chauffeured Jag.

Maybe I should find a new job or ask for a raise. I don’t think so. A better resolution this year might be learning how to stretch a dollar. Besides, if I spend less at the grocery store I’ll finally be able to lose those stubborn ten pounds.

Remember the days when we were all back in school? Remember easy credits? The classes you took because there wasn’t much effort required to earn the grade? When it comes to life I figure I’ve earned most of the hard credits; I’m taking it easy from here on out.

This year I plan to take more naps when it’s cold and gray outside. I will sit in my garden when the sun shines; everything and (everybody else) wait.

I will stop spending my money buying things I think will make me happy and start spending my time doing things I know I enjoy.

I will laugh more and (hopefully) cry less, but if I do feel like crying I will sob wholeheartedly and without shame.

I will say no without guilt, yes (only) when I want to and change my mind if I feel like it.

I will practice serenity by embracing acceptance.

My New Year’s resolution for 2009 is challenging in its simplicity; to let life unfold in each new day and take it as it comes - as easy as I can. I’ve earned it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


There’s a joke that’s been making the email rounds for a while now. It’s about God, the Garden of Eden and that infamous first couple Adam and Eve. In this conjecture, Eve was created first and, oddly enough, she had three breasts. When God asked her how things were going, she reported being mostly pleased, but wondered why she had 3 breasts when all the animals were symmetrical. She didn’t want to complain, but that third breast kind of got in the way.

God agreed, reached down, removed the unnecessary mammary appendage and tossed it into the bushes. A few weeks later he called on Eve again, asking how things were.

“Fine,” she said. “But I was wondering; all the animals have a mate and I’m kind of lonely. Might I have one too?”

God agreed to grant her request and looking around said, “Now what did I do with that useless boob?”

There’s a fine question. What do we Mad Goddess women do with our useless boobs (translate husbands, partners, boyfriends or consorts – whatever suits you) when they turn out to be more of an annoyance than they seem worth?

You could start with a list of pros and cons – virtues and faults but you probably already know them by heart without ever writing them down. You could turn your troubles into a cash cow. A famous author of a woman’s detective series wrote her first book from her wishful plotting of her husband’s quick demise.

You could be grateful that we’re not as limited as our mothers and grandmothers. You know, there was a time when a woman could be committed to an insane asylum with nothing more than the signature of two relatives – her husband counting as one. Of course, that was a time when a stay in an asylum, with three meals a day and a clean bed, might have been a welcome vacation. You know what Cher says about marriage: "It's a fine institution, if you like living in an institution."

We could be like our daughters – a new generation of women who seem to be tipping the scales of career, money and power in their favor. The downside is that many of them end up with boys that never grow up instead of husbands.

I guess a Middle Aged Goddess, like myself, just has to learn to live with a useless boob that sometimes gets in the way, demands too much attention and (even though you think it can’t be possible) sinks to new, disappointing levels of every day.

Friday, December 5, 2008


When my children were little, Christmas time was a flurry of decorations, school and church programs, baking and making presents. The budget was tight and shopping was last on the list. My first Christmas as a newly wed, I purchased cheap paper doilies and with a little bit of folding and tape, turned them into three-dimensional ornaments for our tree.

When the youngest was in grade school, her teacher sent home a blank cut-out of a huge Christmas stocking. We were instructed to decorate it in a way that represented our family. Out came the shoe box of photos from over the years. Before long both of her sisters, much older than she and far too teen-jaded for warm-fuzzy family fun, had joined us at the table strewn with scissors, glue, ribbon and glitter. We spent the entire evening cutting and pasting our family history onto that poster-board stocking.

Those were the days!

My children, of course, have different memories. Such as the first year I won the battle over harvested tree versus artificial tree. Every December their father and I zipped ourselves into snowmobile suits, trekked out into our wooded acreage and cut down a tree. The first year, I was 9-months pregnant, hiking through snow up to my thighs and wondering if I’d be giving birth in the back forty. By the tenth year, it just wasn’t fun anymore.

So I over-ruled the majority and purchased our first artificial tree. After it was assembled and decorated my middle daughter said, “It’s just not Christmas.” I’d argued this point with her father one too many times and I didn’t appreciate her coming in on his side. I restrained myself from choking the little Benedict Arnold and she concluded, “Mom isn’t cussing a blue streak about the lopsided tree with bare spots and Dad isn’t hiding out watching the football game on TV”.

Now my children are all grown up and each of them, in their own way, hates Christmas. They can’t afford gifts – that stresses them out. They have too many obligations (multi generations of blended families) – that stresses them out. They don’t see eye to eye with each other’s spouses and significant others – that stresses them out. They would prefer that Christmas come and go without them – and that stresses me out.

For too many years now, I have been spending the weeks before Christmas turning myself inside out and upside down in an attempt to deliver a Christmas holiday that everyone will enjoy. I do this mostly for my husband, whose only wish is to have all of our children and grandchildren in the same place on the same day for a family holiday. After many failed attempts, I have one thing to say. Good luck on that.

As for me, my idea of the perfect Christmas would be making homemade decorations and gifts – from the sea shells I gathered at the beach, attending sunrise services – on the pier, baking – clams, crab and lobster in the sand and sending postcards in lieu of Christmas greetings – Wish you were here! Hope you can join us next year.

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