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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Saturday, April 18, 2009


Recently I was asked to read some of my essays to a group of women from middle age through golden years. About half way into the gig, I noticed that many of them looked like frightened deer frozen in the glare of oncoming headlights.

I realized that they had never heard another woman speak about mid-life frustrations with such candor - well not publicly at least. I admit it - I’m not one to mince my words these days.

One woman asked me if I’ve ever regretted anything I’ve written or said publicly. No. I haven’t. I dare to say out loud:

  • Marriage isn’t perfect and is sometimes a hellofalota work. Oh my!
  • Kid’s aren’t perfect and they are most times a hellofalotta work. Oh my!
  • There are things about my husband I don’t like. Oh my!
  • There are things about my kids I will never understand! Oh my.
  • There are days I wish I had no husband and no children and I could just go where the wind blows me! Oh my!
  • My humor is sometimes (okay, most of the time) sarcastic. Oh my!

"Doesn't your husband take offense to what you say?" an audience member asked me.

My husband doesn’t read this stuff but all of my children do. Some of my words get spit back out in conversation. I’m sure they all wish I would retire to my rocker with my knitting and crossword puzzles. Instead I get up on my soapbox and poke holes in the pretty bubbles of familial dysfunction.

51 lashes with a wet noodle to me – one for every year I have dared to live and not be always perfect, or always kind, or always understanding. After I’ve taken my lashes and paid my debt to society, might I be able to presume I’ve earned the right to believe that as an adult women, nobody has the god-given or any other kind of right to tell me what I should do, what I should think or what I can say? Might I go one step further and presume that any sane woman would get pissed off when she is told those things.

We all live and love, we all laugh and we all cry. As women we all share our joys and sorrows, our ups and our downs with the people in our lives. We do it over a cup of coffee at a friend’s kitchen table, with the phone in hand late at night, in an email or maybe in a blog. I write what I know, what I live.

I could be mistaken (it seems nobody is talking about this), but I think I have also said . .
  • I love life and I love sharing it with my husband, children and grandchildren.
  • I have thoroughly enjoyed being a mom and I couldn’t be prouder of my daughters.
  • I am proud of all my accomplishments – those I’ve achieved on my own and those I’ve worked at with my husband.
  • I won’t give up on my future happiness no matter how far out to sea my ship may be. And if it springs a leak, I only hope my loved ones are willing to keep bailing with me.
I have no interest in telling other people how they should live, but I certainly do hold an interest in telling them how I would like to be treated - or not treated as the case might be.

If any of you are fans of the Red Green Show on PBS, then you know the mans’ prayer (my husband hates whenever I bring this up). “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.”

Then there are the women. We have spent a life time giving to and taking care of everybody we love and for some reason we can’t quite figure out, they haven’t put us up on a pedestal like a queen. In fact, they kind of stomp all over us like a door-step. Can’t say I blame them. We’ve trained them to be well taken care of. The more we give and do, the more they come to expect it.

I would offer this as the woman’s prayer: “I’m a woman and I just know that if I work hard enough and keep right on trying, I can make everybody around me happy and they will treat me wonderfully. I just haven’t done enough yet – or maybe I haven’t done it right yet, but I’ll just keep trying, I guess, until I get it right.”

And then one day, we become MAD Goddess women. We become exhausted. Finally, we are transformed into that fury for which hell hath no comparison.

“I am a MAD Goddess woman and I am not required to contribute to the happiness of any person – husband, child, parent, friend or co-worker, who refuses to participate in manifesting my happiness as well.”

Think of it as a see-saw. It doesn’t work if each one of you isn’t lifting the other one up.

. . . . . . mid
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Friday, April 3, 2009


March winds blow in the season of April proms and May graduations. Being an empty-nester, I am so done with all of that.

Proms are a fun and exciting time, especially for the mother of three daughters who each attended three proms. Do the math – I could be driving around in a cherry, classic Mustang convertible for the price. Add in the grad portraits and I could have some impressive custom wheel covers.

I am eternally grateful that we snuck by on the cheap with the first two girls - that's the middle daughter (in the middle) wearing my early 80's disco diva dress. You can see by the expression on her face that the girl has attitude. With the third daughter, we managed to keep a firm, though somewhat weakening hold on the budget - from her first prom (less than $200 total expenditure) to her last prom, in which she went all out.

Being the baby in my own family, I remember my mother’s excuse for everything I got away with (according to my older siblings). “I’m old. I’m tired,” she said summarily dismissing the ranks. Oh, how true. It becomes so easy to choose your battles when you are road-weary from traveling that path before.

I am enjoying a window of respite from this season of high emotion and high priced necessities before my first born grandchild is ready for her first prom. I admit, I’m a little (okay a lot) excited about dress shopping when the bill is on her father.

Of course, this grandma might be tempted to fork over the extra dollars for that dress she just has to have or she knows she’ll die. Ah, the payback is rich! For now, I am thankful to sit back and observe this season of young adult passages.

Like all grandma’s who sit in their rockers thinking their thoughts, I can’t help but wonder at how things have changed.

Several years ago in the autumn of the year, a college administrator sent a memo to his staff reminding them of the things the incoming freshman had never experienced. The list became somewhat famous, and now current versions can be easily found on the internet. Here’s my spring passages version ~

The young folks shopping for proms and graduations this year have never known a world without malls and chain stores. It’s unthinkable that they might wear their sister’s or cousin’s prom dress from two years ago. And they can’t believe that dress shops never“registered” your dress so that no other girl at your school would show up in the same one.

They have no idea what polyester is or what leisure suits were and have never danced with a man in stacked heels as high as their own (thank the goddess for small favors!).

They can’t imagine being restricted to going to prom as couples only or arriving in their parent’s four door sedan. They wonder if we didn’t have limos in our days.

Their feet never danced across the floor of a crepe paper festooned gymnasium. They rent ballrooms and receptions halls and drink punch (we can only hope it is only punch) in engraved stemware.

They’re dumbfounded by the suggestion that one or two poses are enough for graduation portraits. What about the sports pose, the sexy pose and the outdoor pose? What about touch-ups to remove glare from glasses, pimples on noses and flyaway hair? What about the Photoshop special effects – black and white drama with pseudo hand tinted accents?

They expect full scale receptions for graduation parties, complete with music and dancing. If they were given a suitcase (the classic gift from my day with the hint that it was time to move on being apparent) they would expect it to be the “gift box” containing their tickets for a graduation trip to Cancun.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “The only constant in life is change.” Bob dylan expounded on this theory in his song The Times They Are A-Changin’. As Dylan so aptly sates, we parents and grandparents can either keep up or get out of the way:

“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
and don't criticize what you can't understand.
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.
Your old road is rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand,
for the times they are a-changin'.”

. . . . . . mid
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