Dear Annie: I have been married to my husband for 20 years, and we have two children in their teens. Over the years, my husband has purchased rental property that will hopefully turn out to be a good investment. Along with maintaining those properties and his full-time job, he also participates in sports and plays in a band. This leaves me home with the kids four nights a week and sometimes weekends.
I also work full time and come home to laundry, supper and whatever needs to be done around the house and with the kids. By the time I’m done, it’s 9:30 and my husband is still not home. It gets really lonely here. I tried having my own after-hours activities, but when I’d return, there would still be dishes to wash, laundry to do and things to pick up. It was exhausting.
I feel like a single mother. It’s not as if his activities involve the kids. He spends little time with them. If I say anything or try to derail his plans with some family time, I am the bad guy, especially if he believes I’m only doing it to force him to spend time with his children. It’s frustrating, and I’m not sure how to rectify the situation. He’s a great, hardworking guy, but the kids are going to be grown and gone by the time he realizes what he’s missed.
— Just Want Some Family Time
Dear Family Time: While your husband should certainly be spending more time with his family, you cannot force him to appreciate what he has at home. He’s too busy running away from it. Instead, concentrate on yourself. Your children are old enough to help with cooking, cleaning and laundry, and these are skills they should learn. Pick an evening to do something you enjoy, and tell your kids they are responsible for the household chores that night. Hire a sitter if you feel they are not old enough to stay home alone. And if the house isn’t perfect, so what? You have been carrying a big load for a long time. You deserve to decompress, too.
Dear Annie: My son fell out of my life several years ago. I do not know why, nor do I know where he is. We used to talk every couple of weeks for years, but then I didn’t hear from him, and his phone was disconnected. When my mail was returned unopened, I was so worried that I had the police there check on him.
I then got a call from my son letting me know that when he had something to say to me, he would phone. The next year, I received a Mother’s Day card saying he loved me and wished me the best. That was several years ago, and I have not heard from him since. He was a wonderful son until he vanished from my life.
I have since remarried, but I refuse to move because this is the only place my son knows to contact me. I am now 65 and have resigned myself to never seeing him again. Please, if you are estranged from your parents, check in occasionally. You do not have to divulge your whereabouts. Just a postcard to say you are OK would be enough. I will love my son forever. I hope he knows that.
— A Lonely Mom
Dear Mom: Your letter broke our hearts. We hope your son will contact you soon. And for all other distant and estranged children out there — please send word that you are OK. Your parents love you and worry about you.
Dear Annie: I read with interest the letter from “Dismayed in the Boston Area,” whose daughter has been subjected to anti-Semitic remarks at the company where she works. Please tell this young woman to contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance. We have a diversity-training program as part of our “Tools for Tolerance” and can offer her some advice.
— A. Fox
Dear A. Fox: Thank you for your assistance and suggestions.
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