Dear Annie: I left my hometown when I was 19 and have lived in a nearby state for the past 27 years. Two of my children are grown and on their own, and my youngest currently lives with my ex-husband overseas.
My mother is now in her 70s and has many medical problems, lives alone and rarely leaves the house. I am also in a long-distance relationship with a man from my childhood who lives near my mother.
I am planning to move back to my home state to help my mother and also pursue this relationship. However, I am torn between moving back there and being able to see my children, who live in various places. It breaks my heart for my mother to be all alone, and I know I am running out of time to have her in my life. I also feel this man is “the one,” and I want to be with him.
Annie, I spent nearly 30 years caring for my kids. I plan to see them every few months and create a visitation schedule for my son to be with me. Am I being selfish to move away?
-- Torn Between Kids, Parents and Boyfriend
Dear Torn: Absolutely not. You aren’t abandoning young children. Your kids no longer live with you, so you are free to go where you wish. As long as you can visit your children and work out a time for your youngest to be with you, you are under no obligation to remain in your current home.
You have spent 27 years taking care of your kids, and now you are quite unselfishly going to take care of your mother. You deserve to also take care of yourself.
Dear Annie: I recently invited some friends to my home for an informal Sunday supper. We’ve known one another for 10 years and usually go out to restaurants. This is the first time we’ve had them over to our home.
Since then, I have not received any kind of invitation from them. Worse, one of them recently said they had such a good time that we should do it again. But no one volunteered to use their home. Someone suggested I do it.
I have done a lot of entertaining in the past, and going over my guest lists, I realize that very few people have returned the favor. Before my husband died last year, he said flat out that he was tired of entertaining people who do nothing for us in return. One of our neighbors was invited twice to our home, and I have yet to be inside her house. Is reciprocity some old social rule that no longer exists?
-- Still Waiting
Dear Still: No, but many people no longer feel obligated to follow any social rules at all. We think your particular problem is home entertainment. Too many people are embarrassed by the condition of their houses or by their cooking skills. They don’t realize that their friends aren’t interested in comparing furniture and appetizers. They simply want to enjoy the company. The solution for you is to entertain in your home only those who will reciprocate, and socialize with the rest in neutral settings such as restaurants.
Dear Annie: “Too Good of a Cook” complained that her eight grown children and grandchildren visited often but never offered to help with the groceries or cooking.
My parents owned a vacation home, and each year, the family gathered for one long holiday weekend. It was not fair for our parents to host all of the families and feed them, as well. To ensure that everyone had a nice vacation and still contributed their fair share, each family was responsible for one day of meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. That meant they also had to shop, prepare, cook, serve and clean up.
This worked well for many years. Our parents have passed, but those were great years with warm memories -- and tasty meals.
-- Colorado River Family
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