Originally Published: January 2, 2017 5 a.m.
Dear Annie: My son just turned 6 months old, and he is my entire world. I love him to pieces, and I love being a mom more than I thought was possible. I also work full time as a science teacher and softball coach at the local middle school. When I get home, I am beyond tired.
My husband and I live very close to where we grew up – we are from the same town but didn’t meet till after college – and our families are close by. This is super helpful when it comes to last-minute baby-sitting needs, hand-me-down toys and just being around supportive people. But being this close to our families is creating an issue.
Lately, my mother-in-law won’t stop asking me when I’m going to get pregnant again. When I say that we’re in no rush, she asks pointed questions. For example, “Don’t you love being a mom?” “Don’t you want your son to grow up with siblings?” Of course I do! And I do want more children, but, Annie, I’m so drained all the time. And I didn’t know the strain that a baby would put on my relationship with my husband. I’m barely holding on as is, and I want to take the time to enjoy being with my son. How do I get my mother-in-law to back off without offending her? I don’t want to have another fight. But I’m not ready for another kid, either. – Tired in Tulsa
Dear Tired: Your mother-in-law’s pointed questions are best met with a soft – but clear – response. You might say something like, “I am overjoyed by how excited you are to be a grandma. Thank you so much for the help you’ve given your son and me. We definitely want siblings, but I’m not nearly ready to think about that yet. When I am ready, I promise you’ll be the first to know.”
If she continues scanning the sky for storks and giving you the third degree, enlist your husband for support. He can get away with being more blunt. After all, he is her baby boy.
Dear Annie: You advised someone (“Sudden Loss for Words in TN”) how to discuss a recent death, a suicide, with someone who misses the decedent greatly. I can tell you what I did and how it turned out.
In the early 1960s, the mother of a chum died suddenly of a condition that was very seldom fatal. Her widower, son and daughters were shattered, but they coped, being all strong people. I was about 20 years old and knew the woman only tangentially, but I wrote a letter of condolence. I stressed that I remembered my chum’s mother and would for the rest of my life. Last month, I had a rare visit from my friend, who is now a hale septuagenarian like me. He remembered my letter and my vow to remember his mother and said that he had felt comforted by the simple fact that I remembered her.
Of course, I have many family members to remember now, as well as more than a few chums, but I, too, am strong, and I cope.
I think you might advise your correspondent in Tennessee to report that she remembers the absent friend and will do so steadfastly. That declaration might encourage the grieving family members who hear it. Dead people who are remembered are still with us, in a way.
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