Lost Motherness


Syd’s birthday – Kyle not happy


Glynn’s birthday – Kyle not happy


Must be Kyle’s birthday. 🙂

About a year ago, I found a company that would transfer my old videotapes to a digital format so I could watch them online. I didn’t record a lot, but was curious about what was on the tapes I had. I was excited when I got the link and could start watching. Wow. There they were; those moments of daily life with my kids. There they were! My little kids! In the flesh. In voice. In movement. My God, they were precious. Where did the time go? And where was I during that time? I watched the tapes and just cried. I cried for the mom in those tapes. That sad mom. That lost woman. I cried for the 15 years I was there with them, but not really there.

My first memory of being really alone as a mom was the night I brought my oldest daughter home from the hospital. They told us she’d turned blue that morning in the nursery; she’d stopped breathing from choking on mucus. I think that was the longest night I’d ever spent awake on her floor. Alone.

From there, years passed as I made big decisions, alone. Decisions about how to handle big problems and little problems. ADHD. Speech delays. Reading delays. Chores. Sleep overs. Jesus. Mary. Joseph. Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll. I was a kid with kids. Really, what the fuck did I know?

I did not want to be a stay-at-home mom. All those years, I thought I was supposed to be doing something else. I was supposed to be somewhere else.

IMG_6833My mom was a stay-at-home mom. And she always told us we had to get a college degree. I guess that implied we had to do something other than what she did. So that’s what I set off to do. Different experiences when I was young set my mind toward doing “something important.” Growing up, people thought I should be a model. So I did that in New York and Germany. I had a theater scholarship at the community college, so maybe that was something? Then I went to another college and got a degree in Broadcasting. And I was smart. I had a free ride. I worked really hard too. When everyone else was getting wasted on Wednesday nights, I was at home reading my textbooks. During my last semester, I studied abroad in Sweden. And the professor who sent me to Sweden thought I was special – he thought I should get a Master’s. But, I didn’t think sociology was my thing. Looking back, I’m grateful he was my cheerleader.

I even did my college internship at MTV in New York. So, by the time I was 23 years old, I had done some pretty cool shit. Hell, I‘d even lived in San Francisco for one summer with a group of nuns and did volunteer work. That was the summer I worked backstage and met Mr. Mister! I even lived at the beach in Ocean City, MD a few summers. You could say I was not one to rest on my laurels. I grabbed the world by the balls, horns, or whatever.

IMG_6836Fast forward to the married me. Before kids, I worked a low-paying job in radio. After a few kids I worked jobs in promotions and advertising that, looking back, were okay. I even had a nanny for a while. I lived where I lived because of the husband’s job. I guess we decided his job was more important; he could make more money. My talents were never really considered. By him. Or by me. Or his parents. Or my parents.

It became obvious that it was my job to raise the kids – whether I had a full-time job or not. The husband worked. I was always so jealous of my friends who had husbands who would get home from work and play with the kids – or be the Scouts leader. I was so jealous of the couples who talked and knew each other. I was jealous of the idea of working and having kids and the myth of having it all.

By the time there were three kids, we had moved to another state. A job that ignited my talents, would have meant an hour commute – plus all the house and kid work. No. Fuck no. And there was no way I was going to put the kids in daycare from 7 AM until whenever. I know myself pretty well. When I work, I work. The kids would have lived at the daycare. And both parents would have been an hour away. No. Fuck no.

IMG_6841At the beginning of my time at home I felt very isolated. And lonely. Alone. There were many days I felt I was dying. The fun me. The creative me. The one who wanted to make something. The one wanted to experience the world and learn new shit. I created a freelance copywriting business so people would know I was still there and had something to say. Make no mistake, being a stay-at-home mom is exhausting. The hardest work ever. How many moms and dads do I know who go crazy just staying home with their kids over summer break? The husband used to say that he’d rather go to work than stay home and “babysit” the kids.

In the last few years, so much resentment had built up. Where’s the recognition for moms? Is there a Nobel prize for good momship? Is there really a “Mother of the Year” award? Do they do stories about moms on 60 Minutes? No, not unless you trap your kids in the basement. Where’s the big salary to show what a great fucking job you did? Where’s the trophy? Where’s the social support Hillary – fucking baking cookies comment? You get a bunch of patronizing “hardest job in the world” comments at dinner parties.IMG_6840

I created a group of girlfriends to help fill the void. But there was a void. I was supposed to be doing something. Something for a resume. But stay-at-home motherhood is just a void on a resume. It’s a nothing job on a resume, even though you’ve been doing so much. On a resume it is literally space you have to fill with something important.

And if you get divorced, you’re fucked. Split things evenly, my ass. After being home for decades, there is no way a woman’s career can catch up to a man’s. No way. He walks away the financial and career winner. His salary remains, and you start over. (Yes, I am still working through some anger. Some of it self-directed.)

And yet, I would do it all over again. It’s the regret I am trying to heal.

I was sobbing when I told my counselor “I would give anything if the 53-year-old me could go back to that time – the time in those videos – and just sit in bed with the kids when they were little – and just read to them again. If I could be with them for just one day! I would cherish them, I would read them a book, I would smell their hair, I would cuddle them, I would snuggle their little bodies, I would stare at them while they were sleeping. Just ONE day – I want to go back now to when they were little.”IMG_6844

And I cried when I told that story to a group of people the other day. And I cried when I told the story of the videos to my boyfriend this morning.

What a cliche! What a horrible cliche! The person who wants to go back in time to relive some moment. The person who didn’t listen to that other cliche “stop and smell the roses!” How lame!

Thinking of it feels like torture. I know I had joyful moments back then – but when I think back to that time, it feels dark. When I see the videos, I see that I was a good mom. I see the joy. I just don’t remember it.

I keep thinking that I want some fairy godmother to come knock that younger Dawn upside the head and say “Wake the fuck up! You are going to be here for 15 years or so. Relish it. Enjoy it. Live it. Breath it. Settle in. You will never get these moments back.” And the Dawn of today says “Yes, Yes, Yes! I would do it. I would settle in. If I only knew then what I know now!”  Great! Another cliche!IMG_6838

So where was Dawn back then? She was stewing in resentment for what she thought she should be doing. What would I do differently? I would feel the joy of those kids.

Back then, I was a good mom. I was probably a great mom. But I wasn’t present. I was living in muck.

My counselor tells me I need to be nicer to myself. I need to go back to that Dawn and be nice to her. Comfort her. She was doing the best she could at the time. Give her a hug. She was working really hard. Alone. I have a hard time doing that for myself.

IMG_6832My kids are adult-ish now. Luckily, I get to see them often. Last night, my 25-year-old Face-Timed me and said we needed to do it more often cause “the Kardashians do it, so we should too.” Kardashians or not, I realized how lucky I was that on a Friday night when she was bored, she thought to call her mom. This kid was also at my house for a long school break recently, and we spent a lot of time talking. I feel close to her. I feel like I know her.

IMG_6839The same goes for the other two kids. My other daughter and I Face-Timed last night about a spring break trip we will take to New Orleans. I’m sure she’s happy that I will help pay for part of the trip, but deep down, I think she’s happy to be going with me. I feel close to her – and I feel like she lets me know her pretty well.

My son and I have lots of great talks – just like I do with his sisters. He’s almost 19 and I always feel great when he says “love you” when he hangs up the phone. I think he is a pretty sensitive guy and I always feel he’s listening even when other people think he’s not. I think he knows I love him unconditionally. The best thing I’ve heard lately is that to love that way means to love someone “for no reason.” I think my kids know I love them for no reason. I just love them.

I now understand the idea of being present. At least I am trying really hard to understand. I cherish the time I have with my kids now. In 20 years, I don’t want to watch a video I have of them on my phone and cry – then beg to go back to relive it. I want to feel the joy now. I do feel the joy now.

Thank God. And Jesus. And Mary. And Joseph. And all the other ones out there looking out for us.



Vulnerable at the Phone Fixer Shop

IMG_6491 (1)

Edited bikini pic from my phone

I don’t have any naked pictures on my phone. Naked pics aren’t my thing. But, I have taken pics of myself in undies to demonstrate the kind of bikini I wanted to buy. And I have a pic of myself in a bikini in Mexico. So, if you had my phone, you wouldn’t find anything too racy. The undies pic could be a Kohl’s ad. And I literally walked down a beach in Cabo San Lucas in that bikini last month. But, if you are my Facebook or Insta pal, you’ll recall that neither of those pics appeared online. Why? I guess I just don’t want to post pictures of myself in a bikini. It’s just not my thing.

A few days ago I did a story on-air about how Apple is throttling speeds on older iPhones like mine, the iPhone 6S. With every “update,” the phones get slower. Apple purposely slows down the processing speed to accommodate the aging batteries in older phones. I wasn’t losing my mind; my phone IS slower. The fix? A new battery rather than a new phone. Since I always buy the Apple warranty, AppleCare Plus, I was told the battery replacement would be free.

I made it to the local Apple place; always in a basement. Very cordial male computer geeks were waiting on a guy who had his wife’s laptop and external hard drive. He left it there to be “saved” by the geeks who know the mysteries of computers.

When it was my turn they tested the battery and told me to come back the next day. While I was there I noticed the techs kept coming in and out of a locked door. I left knowing I’d be back the next day – but the idea of turning over my phone creeped me out. Why? It’s not as if there’s much to find. So why did I feel so icky? And why did I feel uncomfortable for the man who’d left his wife’s computer behind?

It’s the issue of privacy. And the locked doors. When you go to places like an Apple service provider, Best Buy, Verizon, or wherever – you are just turning things over to a stranger with no assurance of privacy. All your communications. Your writings. Your pictures. Your web searches.

That man just left his wife’s computer and hard drive. Such a personal thing. So much on there. Did he just hand over his wife’s diary? Her emails? Her credit card numbers? Does she have naked pics on there? From the tone of his chat with the tech, he wasn’t taking it there for a routine checkup.

Many of us go to the dentist or doc for routine checkups. But how many of us take a trip to the computer shop or phone store to see if they are running well? And before we go, do we wipe every personal thing off of them? Not likely. We usually go when they crash; in the middle of something important like a personal email, specs of a new invention, or a break-up text. So, when the computer comes back to life in the hands of the tech, there is our life, for their perusing.

Just like we often head to the hospital when our body crashes. Or to a lawyer when our life crashes. But at least when we visit a doctor or lawyer we feel like the things we say are gonna be kept secret. We are in the room with the doctor or lawyer. We are part of it. The doc is gonna tell us what she finds. The lawyer doesn’t know our secret sins unless we tell him.

So the next day when I returned, I gave them the passcode to my phone and asked if I could watch them replace the battery. They said it was not allowed by Apple – and the guy disappeared behind the locked door. Such an icky feeling. The tech was just one click away from all my emails, all my photos, all my texts, and the credit card numbers that are stored in my phone’s wallet app. So, when this tech guy came out from behind the curtain, so to speak, was he going to know what I looked like in my underwear? Will he know that I have three kids? Will he know where I work and that one of my Nashville reps just sent me a bunch of download codes for a new country album to give away on-air? How the fuck will I know? He will know. I won’t know a thing.

A few minutes into my wait one of the techs came out and we had a great chat. I asked him about the locked door and he told me Apple has all kinds of rules. The tech working on Apple phones has to be behind a locked door and cameras watch him as he works. There is also a very pricey piece of equipment that replaces phone screens, hence the added security.

I was very blunt and said “What if I had naked pics on my phone?” He said “Delete them before you get here.” I asked about bringing in a computer and all the personal information they contain, and he said “Apple says to wipe your computer clean before any repair by backing it up with Time Machine and an external hard drive.”

All I heard was blah, blah, blah. That’s like saying don’t have a heart attack while sitting on the toilet. Again, most people visit computer and phone repair places when the devices aren’t working. So having a chance to end the text, stop the writing, log off of Dropbox, or whatever, is not always an option.

Sure, backing things up for safe-keeping is always a good idea. That’s why I back up to iCloud. But computers and phones don’t whack out at convenient times.

We shouldn’t have to worry that Snoopy McSnoopPants is going to read our stuff and look through our photos. There is no transparency for the consumer. There should be a window where we can see what they are doing. What’s the big secret Apple? We should be able to watch what the tech is doing just like the window at Krispy Kreme donuts. I don’t care about Apple covering their ass. I want them to care about mine. Well, not really – just my figurative ass.

I am generally a trusting person and I’m guessing that the tech working on my phone the other day didn’t have the time nor inclination to look through my phone. From what I’ve read online about this issue, many techs just want to get your phone or computer fixed. They have enough to do without taking time to look through your personal stuff.

But I also know human nature. Perhaps you’ve seen stories about pics being taken off phones. Or emails being read or credit card numbers taken. Sure, there are many times when our private information is vulnerable, but often, we feel “safe.” Like when we share information with doctors, lawyers, ministers, therapists, bankers, mortgage lenders, teachers, and the like. But in those cases we feel protected by laws. But when we go to a computer or phone store “broken,” we have no such sense of security. At least it doesn’t feel that way.

Kudos to those of you who can make yourself feel “safe” before dropping off a computer. You can encrypt, log out, wipe clean, or whatever. But you gotta know there’s plenty of folks who have a hard time just figuring out how to save to iCloud. For them, learning how to erase all personal ties from a computer is out of the question. And as I said, sometimes you get caught with your pants down – or, with a document open. Your computer crashes mid-something. I write, a lot, and some of it is for my eyes only. If my computer crashed while I was writing in my journal, it would later open under the gaze of a computer tech. I would hope he or she would not read it.

If I did have a heart attack on the toilet I would assume the paramedics would come to my aid and cover me with a blanket to protect my privacy. I’m not sure there is a standard protocol for techs who see private information. Close the file to protect privacy or keep looking cause it’s titillating?

From reading blogs, I know techs sometimes see stuff they don’t want to see, like child porn. And they see things they “don’t want to see” while doing the job of fixing a phone or computer. That’s what happens in a profession where you deal with private information. I’m sure nurses and teachers hear a lot during the course of a day. But they are trained on how to deal with it. Is the Geek Squad? The phone techs at Verizon? Apple techs?

Perhaps a computer or phone tech should not be thought of as an “electronics geek.” They are dealing with private information. They aren’t just fixing an electronic component like a TV or fridge. Ethics training needs to be implemented because they are not just dealing with a motherboard and microchips.

And as far as I know, there are no protections for us when it comes to handing over our electronic selves. Apple just takes them behind a locked curtain.

* I have no complaint about the service I got at the Apple service provider. My phone works great now. My complaint is with Apple.

Divorce: Things lost, but not forever

Gorging yourself on pulled pork and pierogies is expected when you visit a local arts fest. This, after I tried on 45 rings and my sweetie bought me a gorgeous handmade necklace. As we walked along, checking out booths full of stuff, I saw a bunch of Christmas ornaments. My sweetie asked a question. I didn’t answer. Instead, I just kept walking with a lump in my throat. I knew if I answered I would cry. So I just whispered something about not having my Christmas tree. I told him I was trying not to cry. So, we just walked while I let the moment of grief pass. For the last three years or so, I’ve had a lot of those moments. Odd moments that come at the oddest of times.


This angel has been on top of my tree since the early 1990s.

December of ’92: I lived in Omaha, Nebraska and my first baby girl was six-months old. It was time to go tree shopping. I’d grown up with a fake tree and had such warm and loving feelings about it. That tree was stored in a big-ass box and was a pain-in-the-ass to put together. It had wired branches that went into a long-battered wood pole. It had colored lights with night-light sized bulbs, glass ball ornaments, garland (not tinsel), and a nativity set. I used to stare at it for hours. That tree paired with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on TV made me feel sheer joy as a kid. Even now, a decorated tree and Charlie Brown means warmth, safety, and love.

So 1992 was my year to recreate the same thing for my new family. My baby daughter and I got into our Ford Festiva with tires the size of donuts and headed into the wilderness of big-box stores to find our tree destiny. And there it was. Six feet of plastic beauty. Sixty-bucks later it was loaded into the Festiva: back seat down, rear gate of the car flipped open, rear-facing car seat illegally strapped into the front seat, and new mother convinced she’d go to “shitty mother” jail.

For 23 years that tree was my tree. It became the family tree because soon enough there were three kids and a dog. Year after year it stood. And it was always the same; white lights, gold garland, and ornaments. It stood, bearing all those ornaments; those Hallmark series ornaments purchased for each kid beginning with the year of their birth, the Barney ornament that moves, the naked Santa ornament from cousin Betty Jean, the leg lamp ornament that talks, and all the goofy school pics ornaments the kids made. The tree was a beauty.

2012 xmas tree

A beauty to behold

Well, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One year, after I got the lights on the tree, one of the strands went out. In frustration, I drove to the store to get a new strand. All they had left were LEDs. Onto the tree they went. The result was ridiculous, as you can see. The incandescents glowed yellow. The LEDs glowed blue. How unsightly! And it was on display out the front window! Did I give a shit? Well, obviously not. I thought Martha Stewart. Bite me. I had a leg lamp from the movie A Christmas Story in my front window the rest of the year. My front window was a freak show.

A few years after the lighting incident I got divorced for the second time. I was forced to downsize and sell the house I’d been living in with my kids for 11 years. For years after our split, my first husband and I worked together to make sure the kids never had to move. No such luck with husband number two. I don’t feel like wasting any breath on that turd, so instead I’ll chat about my stuff – that really isn’t just stuff.

I had to sell my house and move in a short period of time. I had to get rid of stuff in a frenzy. I am not a materialistic person, but some days I felt like I was dying. Getting rid of sixty-percent of my stuff felt like death. Perhaps I am sentimental? One day I sat in the garage sorting screws. And I was crying. Ex-husband #1 walked by carrying a box as he was helping me move and probably thought I was batshit crazy. I thought Oh my God. Will I need screws in a townhouse? I won’t have a garage, but will I need a screw at any point in my future?

Sure, I took loads of stuff to Goodwill. Multiple car loads of stuff. But there were certain things that meant something to me that I had to get rid of – like my kitchen table. Yes, the table my kids and I sat around year after year. It wouldn’t fit in the townhouse I was moving into, but there was no way in hell I was giving it to Goodwill so it could sit there with some garish price tag on it. So I decided to list a bunch of stuff on Craigslist under Free to see what happened. Now the table lives in Boalsburg. Ex-husband #1 and I delivered it to a young couple who needed it for a growing family.

Next, my house plants. My beloved house plants. Some of them came from funerals; my dad’s funeral, my former mother-in-law’s funeral. From my first day on-the-job in 1993 in Omaha. From here and there and everywhere. These plants had moved with me from Nebraska to Missouri to Pennsylvania. Two female friends came and loaded them into the back and front seats of their cars. They are still alive, I think. The plants – and the friends.

Artwork. I had Impressionism prints on my walls. For years, Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro brightened our space. One morning, a guy literally came and took them off my walls. He said he was opening some sort of business and would use them there.

Holiday decorations. Ouch. I loved decorating for the holidays and I had a big house. I was going to a very small townhouse and bins of stuff had to go. For example, lots of the stuff was for Halloween. I took pictures of my beloved ghouls and goblins, posted them online, and asked people to take them home. People were kind enough to tell me what they were going to do with them; my skeleton bride was going to grace a haunted hayride – or maybe she was going to a local neighborhood. Either way, she was going to a nice place.

Christmas. I don’t really remember many of the decorations I got rid of, except my tree. There was no place at the townhouse for a six-foot, fake tree. So she had to go. I saw visions of her standing all alone in the back lot at Goodwill. No fucking way. I would sob. No. Hell no. So her picture went online with the rest of the decorations. As far as I can remember, she went with someone who had a Christmas-themed business.

That time is still a daze for me. Even now, I don’t know where some of my stuff ended up. I just remembered I used to have a reindeer in a rocking chair that rocked and sang Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Where the hell is that? I still regret giving some of it away. At one point I drove a car-full of antiques to an antique mall and some sleazy guy gave me $60 for all of it. The wedding dress from wedding #2 was part of the deal. He told me the dress would end up at a flea market. I didn’t give a shit where it ended up.


Me and one of my daughters at the Met

About two years ago, I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC with one of my daughters. We walked into a room filled with Impressionism. Even though I’d seen it there before, seeing it again hit me hard; the Monet that was no longer in my life. I got tears in my eyes. The memory of what was.

I’ve had many odd moments since giving away my stuff. I missed that skeleton bride at Halloween. So, I found the exact one from the 1990s on eBay recently. It was odd to be so happy about finding her. This past Halloween she graced the living room of my boyfriend’s house. I think his kids named her Mrs. Bones.


Mrs. Bones

My townhouse is absolutely lovely now. It’s home. I remodeled it after I moved in and my friend Sarah was nice enough to give me a few ceramic, lighted Christmas trees to replace my fake tree. And after that day at the arts festival, my boyfriend said we’d get a tree this year at his house. He and his girls picked out a real tree. That’s a first for me.

current tree

The real tree – my stuff and his stuff

I sorted through the boxes of ornaments, lights and garland I managed to keep. Three years after the loss of my tree, my ornaments are back up. And so is that strand of blue-white lights. My boyfriend had ornaments and lights too, so we have a dual-family tree with lights of different sizes. I hung my craft show ornaments and he hung his shiny red balls. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

When I am at my boyfriend’s house, I will sit in the living room and look at the tree, just like I did when I was a little girl. Just as I did when I was a new mom, just as I did when I had toddlers and teenagers. I still feel serene around a tree that I decorated. My nativity scene is set up too and the angel that’s been on top of my tree for decades is back on top. She’s just in a new place.

* This is just one story of loss due to divorce. If you are divorced you know the losses are many; friendships, family members, material items, plans for the future, companionship, love, and others. But over time, these losses can certainly turn into new paths of friendship, love, family and plans for the future. Believe it.

Open Letter on my Anniversay: Letting Go of Fear


One year ago today, I went on a Match.com date with a guy I call Jimmy Jailbait. You may have read the story; I peed myself cause I waited too long to head to the bathroom. Tonight I’ll head to his house after I work-out. Then I’ll cook dinner while he’s at a “back to school night” with his ex-wife and kids. But tonight, instead of pee, it will be tears. Like many other days this year, I’ll just cry.

I’ll cry because I’m happy. I’m learning to let go of fear. I’m returning to that sweet, bright, happy person I used to be. To the core of myself that loves people. To the one who wasn’t cheated on by really important people in her life. To the one who wasn’t surprised by lies. I’m making a return to the one who knows people are worthy of trust.

It’s been a rough year. I can’t count the times in the past year I’ve driven to work in tears. I can’t count the times I’ve cried through sessions with my counselor. And how many times have I cried with my friends? I’m supposed to be in love. Why am I crying?

I already know. It’s because I feel like I’m “walking the plank” with Jimmy. Because I am. I have been so vulnerable. I’ve revealed so much to him. Lame things. Insecure things. Horrible thoughts. Things like “I can’t go to see the Wonder Woman movie with you because she’s beautiful. I will feel like a nothing sitting in the seat next to you because I know you’ll think she’s hot. I’ve never been insecure about my looks before. And now I’m not sure what is happening to me. Aging? Being cheated on numerous times? I’m not sure what it is.”

And Jimmy is there. He hears all of my stupid-ass shit. He lets me cry. He lets me be funny. He lets me be strong. He lets me be weak. He lets me be damaged. And sad. And smart. And powerful. And goofy.

He has let me in too. He has been vulnerable. And honest. And caring. And I can see that he really listens. I feel really loved.

I see how he treats his kids. I see how he treats my kids. I see how he treats his ex-wife. And I see how he treats his peers – and the server at the restaurant. And I’m in.

He gives me a lot of his time. He shares a lot of his thoughts. I do feel very loved. Maybe that’s what scares me. I have felt loved before. And then…

The thought of facing the pain I’ve felt in the past makes me cry. I’m crying as I write this. But I’ve never been one to shy away from living. So here I am. Living.

I can trust myself. And I can trust him. I just need to keep breathing.


* Over this past year, I’ve been to lots of counseling, read lots of books, and I love listening to Dr. Laura Berman’s podcasts. In January, my friend Debbie and I will launch a divorce support group called “Rebuilders.”  Stay tuned.

That Marriage: The Big Lies


Recently, I was on-air getting ready to chat about something: The Blake Shelton concert coming to the area, why coffee is good for you, or maybe some big news about flip flops. A FB Messenger “message request” popped up. I didn’t recognize the woman’s name. The line that caught my eye just as I opened the mic was “I’m fairly certain we were sleeping with him at the same time.”  The messages continued until we got to this screenshot.

Some divorces are easier than others. The one I am writing about now was devastating. For the past few years, I’ve regarded my ex as a person in deep pain. No matter how much I’ve wanted to lash out at him, I’ve stopped myself. It felt like kicking a dog when he’s down or pouring salt in a wound – whatever cliche you prefer. Mind you, not lashing out has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My plan is not to lash out now, but to share part of the story – about how I dealt with rage. With anger.

It’s hard to know where to start, so let me say I married a person I didn’t really know. The marriage was full of jealousy, lies, and insecurity. He thought I was a liar. When I “liked” FB posts from a former boyfriend I was “disrespectful.” When I had meet and greet pics taken with country music singers, I was “celebrity humping.” When I went out with groups of male and female friends, I wasn’t “acting the way a wife should.” And when I wrote a memoir about a very difficult time in my life, he was horrified. I shouldn’t have gone public with that sort of info.

That marriage almost consumed me – with his alcoholism. Luckily I discovered Al Anon. As I mentioned, the marriage was full of lies. The alcoholism sort of lies. What I did not know, until that FB message, was that our marriage was also full of the cheating sort of lies. His. Not mine. I can honestly say, I never saw that one coming.

After about 18 months of marriage, “Richard,” I’ll call him “Dick” and I agreed that I’d quit my part-time job. I’d been teaching part-time at a university and I wanted to go back to freelance copywriting. On my last day at the university, he left. It was the third time he’d left. The first time was for one night. The second time was for a few weeks. The third time, it was for good. He was convinced I was a lying, disrespectful wife.

Then I lost my house. It’s impossible to pay a mortgage with no job. I had to get rid of most of my belongings as I moved into a tiny townhouse. My kids lost their family home. So I faced the loss of my marriage, my job and my house – all at once.

Dick cheated on his first wife. I found out about one of his indiscretions accidentally after we were married. At various times, my friends had asked me, “Do you think Dick cheated on you too?” And my reply was always the same, “Oh no. He really loved me. I felt it. I can’t even imagine that.”

Idiot. Fool. During the marriage, I was so obsessed with trying to manage his drinking that I never gave a second thought to his ex-fiance. At the beginning of our relationship he described her as a loon. He talked about her for about a month into our relationship – about how she wouldn’t leave him alone via text and email so he had to block her. I’d had some nutty exes too, so I trusted him to work it out. As far as I knew, his last contact with her was when she picked up the rest of her stuff from his garage.

So, there I was, on-air, messaging Dick’s ex-fiance. And she was telling the truth. She knew things. The kinds of things that only Dick could have told her. It was clear they had been communicating since we started dating – and throughout our engagement and marriage. Dick had remained a cheater. The ex-fiance put it this way: “He was a world-traveler who did as he pleased.” Apparently, Dick would give me a kiss good-bye before he left for a two-week, work trip; only to stop by her place en route to the airport. He’d promise to bring both of us the same London hoodie as a souvenir.

Prior to finding out about the cheating, I knew he’d lied about lots of things. I housed that information under the umbrella called “addiction.” So, this betrayal was new. And I was shocked. Throughout our marriage and after he left, he accused me. Questioned me. His emails and texts were vicious.


Now, I realize his behavior was simply an example of projection – a basic concept you’d learn in a psych class. He was the guilty party. He lied – so I did too? It all made sense. The hypocrisy was more than I could bear. For almost three years I “held onto myself.”  I didn’t give in to rage and anger – but at some point the dam will burst. And the dam was about to burst.

Within a day or two it hit: absolute anger and spitting rage. I had fantasies of collecting dog shit in gallon milk jugs –  so I could add water, then drive to his house and pour the shit all over his precious car. I was especially excited about the idea of pouring it down his windshield so chunks of shit would get caught in the wipers. And the driver’s side window would be good too – maybe the shit would seep down into the door. Pouring liquid dog shit all over his car seemed apropos.

But of course, I’d get caught. Plus, I’m a goody-goody. I had to stand in the corner once in grade school. I still remember the shame. So end up in the newspaper for a crime because of this douche canoe? No thanks.

But I had to do something. Send him a screenshot of the messages between me and his ex-fiance? Put posters up in his neighborhood with his face and words like “cheater” and “fucktard?” Egg his car? I had to do something.

Eggs. Fine. Yes. I wouldn’t have to get out of my car. I could throw and flee. Less chance of getting caught. So I got a dozen and drove to his house. Would he be home? I hadn’t kept up with his whereabouts for years so your guess would have been as good as mine.

He wasn’t home. No cars. I figured I could egg his house. He’d come home to broken eggs on the porch and all over the yard. So I sat there for a while. Then I drove away. Then I drove back and sat. And pondered. No. I can’t do it. He’s an ass. You my dear, are not. Drive home. This too, shall pass.

Perhaps you are thinking I’m a pansy. That eggs are really no big deal. A childish prank perhaps. You may be right. But for me, throwing them would have been unleashing hatred and anger. So non-Zen. So childish. So low. So middle-school. So 7-deadly sins like. Wrath?

Instead I just talked to my boyfriend, my counselor, my friends, and my family. In a few weeks I felt a lot better. The anger passed.


The eggs in question. A reminder that I didn’t throw them. I probably shouldn’t eat them either. 

I understand that beneath anger is often, hurt. And the news of the betrayal was very painful. I was blown away. I was absolutely joyful on the day of our wedding. And I could have sworn he was too. How did I not know he was cheating? What signs did I miss? Can I trust my own judgement now? Are all men cheaters?

It took me a year to start dating after the end of that marriage – and being in a relationship now has its own travails. There’s fallout after you’ve been lied to and cheated on. It’s rough. And it’s not as if men my age come without their own failed marriage and issues. Luckily, my boyfriend, Jimmy Jailbait and I, talk. A lot. About subjects you wouldn’t believe. (see First Date: The Big Lie)

On the positive side, I have found somebody who trusts me. I think this is a sign that I can trust him. But it’s still hard. But I think I’m doing well. I’m trying to be brave.

There is a lot more I will write about. This is just some background information and a slice of how I dealt with one bit of anger. I will write about what I’ve learned in counseling, divorce support groups, and through books I’m reading. At this point I don’t even know if anyone wants to read this crap.

And as I’d mentioned, I was on the air when the messages between me and the ex-fiance were going back and forth. So if you ever hear or see an on-air person being a little “off,” say a prayer for them. You never know what shit may have just hit the fan.

The Best Text I’ve Ever Gotten

You may have read the story about my first date with Jimmy Jailbait, the one where I peed myself. It’s called “First Date: The Big Lie.” Well, here’s a text I got from him after our 4th date.

Five things before you start: 1) We often talk about each other in the third person. 2) This is ONE text. 3) I got this while on-air. 4) I did NOT strip. 5) By the time I was done reading this, I could barely breathe, as I was unaware of my “effect” upon JJ. 🙂

Dearest Madonna,

I hope you had a pleasant Thursday evening. I had a hot date with an extremely funny, cute, and smart Cougar milf.

I really like this woman, but unfortunately she is sort of a Skank Ho. And as such, regularly seeks to seduce and corrupt me.  It appears that demolishing the strength of my character has become some sort of game or sport for her.

Take for example last night when she was in particularly rare form, playing the part of a sexy Cougar tease.

She opened the evening strutting about in her skintight yoga pants, claiming to have just completed an evening of intense and exhausting exercise.  Yet, notably absent from her physique was any evidence of perspiration or any other telltale sign of extreme physical exertion.

Within 30 seconds of broaching the threshold to her abode, she stripped down to a bra and thong (at least that is my recollection—things are still a bit hazy, as I am quite certain that she included a  “roofie” amid the chewy starbursts that she insisted I consume).

Anyway, whence it became clear that I was not to be corrupted by her perfectly proportioned half naked body, she then set about “stretching” on the floor.  This particular activity was little more than a well masked sales pitch for why highly flexible women (e.g., those who can put their legs behind their heads) are sexier than inflexible trolls.

Candidly, it was tough to resist this Siren’s song, but alas my moral fortitude trumped the Skank Ho attempts at seduction, or so I thought.  For, unbeknownst to me, she was but getting started–as it turned out, stripping and stretching were simply the first arrows she was to loose from her quiver of Skankdom.

The next arrow she launched assumed the form of “spooning” on her couch (in the dark whilst viewing a scary TV show, so as too further set the stage for physical intimacy). In order to spoon her (in the manner that she deemed appropriate), I was forced to place my hand in very close proximity to her perfectly formed bosom.  Of course, I would have preferred to sit alone in a high back wooden chair, ideally one that had been relocated into the corner of the living room. Sadly, such chairs were notably absent from the Lair of the Cougar.  Instead, I was required to recline with her upon a plush settee and ottoman.

When it became clear to the Skank Ho that my personal ethics were not to be compromised, she then fired an even more powerful arrow from her seduction quiver. This particular missile was sent not once, but repeatedly and sporadically throughout the evening. It assumed the form of the her tight and shapely buttocks subtly gyrating in quiet synchronicity with the melodies comprising the musical score of our television program.  Suffice to say, in our spooning position, her gyrating buttocks were proximally located to my manhood.  After a discreet “adjustment”, I was able to return to the viewing of the program. Yet, as I would learn throughout the evening, any reprieve from her assaults or sense of sexual safety I might experience was fleeting and illusory.  Again and again, this particular projectile was fired at me.  And, each time I endured the bitter sting of its enticing barb. And, each time, following a few “adjustments”, I was coerced into reengaging the seductress in her game of spooning.

In spite of her best efforts to detonate a grenade of sin upon my sense of right-and-wrong, I remained veridic to my convictions.  It was only when I was about to leave, that I experienced a most profound shockwave to my ethos.  The Skank Ho carefully drew a final arrow from her quiver and loosed it truly and directly upon my heart — it was a simple weapon, yet a dangerous one, too.

The bolt she fired was a lovely and impassioned kiss — an osculation whose sweet taste still lingers in my mouth. It pierced me — a fulmination of the decency and integrity that I had avowed to uphold. It struck my virtue as a hammer would a glass.

But by happenstance, this bolt had been omitted from her opening salvo. For, had she wielded this particular armament during our initial greeting, it would have breached the armor of my morality (and, most likely would have engendered the pitching of a tent–one so tall and true that it might have proven difficult to collapse).

Although I had been assured that I would be free to depart the Cougar’s Lair at 10:30pm, I was not released from her Cougary confines until nearly 1:00am.

As the above recollection accounts, I was fortunate to escape with my integrity and righteousness still whole.

Upon returning to my domicile, and following a very long and very cold shower, I retired to the comfort and asylum afforded to me by my bed. I fell dormant by 2am (and, my subconscious only subjected me to a single dream whose cast included the Skank Ho).

So, how was your night?

Cougar Bait, PhD


To say that I was gasping for air is an understatement. Ladies, he’s mine.  🙂


Jailbait, Me, family, and friends a few months after we met. (Thanks for cooking Ming!)

First Date: The Big Lie

At some point during our 5.5 hour first date, “Jimmy Jailbait” and I had come up with nicknames for each other. He’s 8 years younger than me, so his was easy. Mine was Trollopy Madonna Cougar Skank ‘Ho. I obviously have a sense of humor. The revealing chatter was quite a hoot. But not nearly as much fun as the part where I peed myself.

We met on Match.com. Mr. Jailbait “winked” at me. I never responded to winks. If a man was truly interested, he’d write a message, right?

What I failed to mention was that I was desperate. My online dating life was in the toilet. My inbox was full of messages from 26-year olds who wanted to hook-up with a “magical” MILF or men who had profile pics with selfies featuring actual toilets.

Jailbait’s profile was great. Or maybe good enough. Remember, I was desperate.

Our first date was at a restaurant I’ve been to many times. After ten years of dating, relationships, and a debacle of a second marriage, I’d learned to keep expectations low.

When I first saw Jailbait I said something stupid like “You look just like your picture.” Now he knows this is a lie as he is cute and adorable and his profile pics kinda sucked. I guess dumb things fly out of my mouth on occasion. Only many hours later would things fly out of my bladder.

Anyway we ate dinner and I had one beer and a soda. He drank lemonade and water. A few hours into the date I had to pee. And I ignored it. I have a bladder the size of a whale. I’m not one of those pansies who has to pee every five damn minutes.

The conversation was rolling. We were laughing. We were chit chatting about all kinds of crap; divorce, kids, work, politics. And I remember feeling stupid about getting up to pee. Like I’m telling my silly story about the time I did some stupid thing – and now it’s Jailbait’s turn to tell me a story – and I have to stop him to say “oh sorry, hold that thought, I have to pee.” No. Sorry. First date. I don’t pee. I’m much too demure to contain actual urine.

I guess demure would not be the correct term.  He now says one thing that endeared me to him was that I used the term “pussy” to describe someone. What endeared him to me is that he made the international hand symbol for jerking off to describe a thought. Obviously we’re a match made in heaven.

Besides the fact that I was too weird to say “Hold that thought, I have to use the ladies room,” I was also aware of the fact that he was sitting with his back to the wall – and if I got up to walk to the bathroom he’d be checking out my ass. This also made me uncomfortable. Ew. Men are dogs. Checking out my ass. Ew. I’m not one of those women who does some sexy sashay as she leaves the table. I’m more likely to slip on a stray olive.

Five-and-a-half hours later the check had been paid and we were still there blabbing. Ok, I was doing most of the blabbing and he was obviously falling in love with me as I spoke. I guess he had to pee too cause he got up and headed toward the men’s room. I was left behind thinking “Shit! Now what? I can’t leave to go pee cause if he comes back to an empty table he might think I’ve ditched him.”  So I waited until he got back. We chatted for a minute and then I muttered something about heading to the bathroom.  And then it happened.

I stood up. The simple force of standing was enough to unhinge the poor sphincter muscle that had been doing such a bang-up job all evening. As I got to the full standing position I felt the warm rush of fresh pee-pee coming out of my pee-pee hole.

So rather than worrying about what he thought of my pancake ass as I sashayed to the bathroom, I walked like a crazed, 52-year-old, post-menopausal idiot who was trying not to pee herself.

I got to the bathroom and had to simultaneously hold in 85 gallons of wee whilst fumbling with a button and a zipper with a toilet in plain sight. As I frantically sat on the seat to release a torrent of tinkle, I assessed the damage to the crotch area of my pants. There it was: A circle of moistness the size of a salad plate. Trying to dab up the damage was futile. I was laughing, gasping, and thinking at the same time. Hey everyone on Match.com, try this on your first date; pee yourself and then try to think of a way out of the big pee mark on your britches. Go!

I got to the sink to assess the damage from the public perspective. From the backside I was fine. JJ could check out my ass all he wanted. No visible pee. But right there on the front; pee. So now what? No, the dryer was not an option. I’m tall but my crotch does not reach the dryer. Take off my pants to dry the crotch? Oh, yeah, great. Just what ladies want to see when they walk into the bathroom: Some tall chick in her pee-pee thong with the crotch of her pants under the dryer. Plus, JJ would have wondered what the hell I was doing in the bathroom for 10 minutes. IBS? Explosive diarrhea?

I washed my hands. I shook the water from my wet hands onto the front of my pants. Perfect.  I was in and out of the bathroom in the same amount of time that a normal non-peeing-herself-person would have been.

I walked out to Jailbait and he stood up so we could head out to our cars. He, of course, didn’t even notice my damn pants. But, just in case, I motioned to my wet pants and said “Look who just got into a fight with the sink?” He took a quick look and said “Ha! If that would happen to a man somebody would accuse us of peeing ourselves.”

I just laughed. I mean, how ridiculous.


Jimmy Jailbait and I; 9 months after the first date. I am pee-pee free at the Happy Valley Jam concert.. 🙂