Dear Annie: I am blessed with three grown children, all with wonderful children of their own. This sounds ideal, but I can’t talk to them. I’m either boring them with stuff they don’t care about or voicing feelings they don’t want to hear.
A few months ago, I expressed disappointment when I was ignored on what should have been a special day for me. My daughter, the one I get along with best, told me she was only nice to me because of the children and had no interest in hearing that I was hurt. She used to call me twice a week and now it’s twice in four months. The other two are cordial, but I never venture to talk about anything other than how great they are or how big the children are getting.
I never criticized my children and always encouraged whatever they wanted to accomplish. Now they never have time for me. Was I a bad parent all those years without knowing it? If I bring up the issue, I will be accused of being negative and whiny, but it’s difficult to sound happy around them. I have a very supportive husband, a few close friends and many acquaintances who swear I’m the happiest, most generous person they know. I do a lot of volunteer work to get my mind off this because it makes me cry. What’s a mother to do? — Help Needed in Florida
Dear Florida: Your children are only focused on themselves. This is, unfortunately, not uncommon. Parents also can become self-focused and not realize how negative they sound to others. So unburden yourself to a professional. Talk to your clergyperson. Cry and complain all you like to someone who will listen without judging, and you’ll feel better. Then, when you speak to your children, you can be all sweetness and light and perhaps rebuild your relationship. It will be a bit more superficial than you want, but it is the best you’re going to get right now.
Dear Annie: I have been engaged to a wonderful man for 18 months. We have a six-month-old daughter, and I have a son from a previous marriage. My fiance loves both of the children. He is kind and an excellent provider, but he refuses to set a wedding date.
We are in counselling, and although we are making progress, we still haven’t discussed marriage. I think if he has no intention of marrying me, we should end the engagement. He thinks I should continue to be patient until things are “closer to perfect.” Should I move out until he is ready? — Fiancee Forever
Dear Fiancee: Things are never going to be perfect. Would you be happy if he continued to live with you without making a further commitment? If so, be patient. If not, bring this up specifically at your next counseling appointment and find out whether he’s just temporarily gun-shy or has long-term issues with marrying you.
Dear Annie: Two thumbs up for your advice to “Lonely in Michigan,” the 65-year-old widow without family. Communities of 55 and older residents have a great deal to offer.
All are different, but mine offers choices of living arrangements from houses to assisted living to nursing home care, all on one campus. I own my own home and can use the complex restaurant and gym, join groups, go on trips, see movies and concerts, and participate in a huge range of activities.
Apartment residents pay a larger monthly fee, and it includes one meal a day and maid service.
All residents have morning check-in service (notifying security that we are OK) and emergency pull cords in bedrooms and baths. Everyone here understands the adjustment newcomers make. — Widow With No Nearby Kin
Dear Widow: A lot of readers let us know how busy and happy they are living in such communities. Many of these places let you rent for a week or so before making a commitment. Anyone interested should do some research and check it out.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.