Mom taking care of everyone else has no time for herself

DEAR ABBY: I am a stay-at-home mom to three wonderful little girls. I appreciate my husband working so I can do this, but I’m very lonely. I have no real friends.

I help my mom with all her medical needs, making appointments and getting her to them. I also help my brother with his three kids. I help everyone with everything.

In addition to running my home and taking care of our three children, I do everything for my husband. All he has to do when he comes home from work is eat and take a shower.

I haven’t been anywhere by myself in a very long time. We haven’t had a date night, either. Finding a baby sitter isn’t easy. Mom can’t watch the kids, and my grandparents do it only when I need to take her to the doctor’s without the baby. I take the baby everywhere with me.

Please give me some advice on making time for myself and my marriage. I just need someone to be on MY side. — LONELIEST MOM IN ILLINOIS

DEAR MOM: I’m on your side. You have been so helpful to everyone else that you have forgotten how to take care of yourself. Tell your husband what you need — a date night with him every two weeks and a day or two to take care of yourself each month. It will do wonders for your spirits. When you do, ask your brother to watch your children for you. If he refuses, hiring someone to baby-sit would be money well spent.

The problem with being a martyr is that people die doing it, so recognize it’s time to stand up for yourself. If you don’t, by now you should understand that nobody will do it for you.

DEAR ABBY: My father was married before he met my mother and had five wonderful children during his previous marriage. When my half-brother got married two years ago, he invited our father, my mother and me to his wedding. My parents declined because they didn’t want to see my father’s ex-wife (my half-brother’s mother). I went because, quite frankly, I have no dog in that fight.

I recently got word that my half-sister is getting married in June and plans on inviting our father and my mother as well. Due to their absence at my half-brother’s wedding, my parents have decided they shouldn’t go to any of my half-siblings’ weddings in order to be fair to everyone.

Although I’m upset that they’re refusing to attend, I can’t help but wonder what I should do when I get married. Because they’re my parents and I love them, I’d like them to come. But I also want to be sensitive to my half-siblings’ thoughts and feelings. I don’t want them to feel as if their father and stepmother love me more than they love them. What should I do? — TROUBLED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR TROUBLED: When the time comes, talk to your half-siblings about your concerns and the fact that your parents did not come to their weddings. Explain that they were absent because they were uncomfortable about encountering their mother. I’m sure it won’t surprise them. Tell them you would love to have them with you on that special day. But if they refuse out of loyalty to their mother, do not be surprised or regard it as a personal rejection.

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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend is incredibly sweet and kind to me, but he’s often mean to strangers and can be very aggressive and angry. Some examples: I’m moving in with him, and we are giving a lot of furniture to the poor. One couple, who had agreed to take a couch, decided not to. He yelled at them and told them they were going back on their word and causing him problems, so they agreed to take it anyway.

Another example: We are dancers, and when someone got in his way on the dance floor, he yelled at them and called them names. I’m afraid he’s going to make himself hated in class. In traffic he yells and swears at everyone. I’m worried he’ll start to lose patience with me like this. Can you please give me some advice? — NERVOUS IN THE NORTH

DEAR NERVOUS: Your boyfriend may be sweet and kind to you, but he has an anger management problem and a low tolerance for frustration. You are right to be concerned that one day he will unload on you.

Tell him you care about him, but you view his volatility as a danger to your relationship, and it may also hold him back in future employment. Urge him to get help for it. Without help, the problem will only get worse.

DEAR ABBY: A child in my son’s second-grade class goes by the name “Sir _____ _____,” and if anyone leaves out “Sir,” he corrects them (and not very nicely). The family claims the child has been knighted, but the details become vague when asked.

Abby, I did some digging around. This child’s name isn’t on the official British list of knighted citizens. It’s impossible to inherit the title “Sir” and basically unheard of for an American 7-year-old boy to legitimately be given the title. I feel titles should be earned (such as “Dr.,” “Captain,” or “Mrs.”), not made up to generate a sense of power over those around you. May I tell my son it’s OK not to use this bogus title? — KNIGHTED SECOND-GRADER?

DEAR KNIGHTED: I don’t recommend it. The kid may have been given the name “Sir” by his parents at birth, just as the children of certain celebrities have been named “Prince” or “Your Majesty.” If your son prefers not to address the boy by name, he’s free not to address him at all.

DEAR ABBY: My significant other and I have been together for 25 years. I am a youthful 71; he is 59. Until recently I could cope with our age difference, but it has become a problem when we dine in restaurants. The server will often place the bill in front of me. I am not certain if I should be angry or insulted. How do I correct this faux pas without embarrassing my partner? — LUCKY LADY IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR LUCKY LADY: It should not embarrass your significant other if you tell the presumptuous server that your escort is picking up the check. Alternatively, it wouldn’t hurt your S.O. to speak up and ask that it be handed to him. If there’s a question in a server’s mind about who will be paying the bill, it should be placed in the middle of the table.

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DEAR ABBY: My parents were separated for four years while I was in high school and college. It was an incredibly difficult time, and it strained my relationship with my dad. I was told they had “grown apart” but got back together, although we never discuss the reason for it.

I was out with my sister’s friends last night, and one of them got drunk and told me the reason my parents split up was Dad had been seeing another woman and accidentally texted my sister instead of this other woman, and everyone in my family knew about it!

Dad and I barely saw each other or spoke about the separation, and we are finally in a good place. I’m hurt that he intentionally did something that broke up my family. It wasn’t something that just happened because they drifted apart.

I don’t want to ask my sister and bring up painful memories for her. My parents have never talked about their separation since they got back together. What should I do? — MIXED-UP DAUGHTER IN WISCONSIN

DEAR DAUGHTER: When infidelity happens there is usually a reason, and those reasons can vary from couple to couple. It’s possible that your parents, who understandably don’t want to relive that painful chapter, were having problems before the affair began. What is important now is that your family is back together.

My advice is to allow them their privacy. However, if you feel you cannot do that, then tell them TOGETHER what your sister’s friend told you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.