Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Happy weekend, everyone! What are you all up to? My weekends usually start on Fridays, one of the two days both my kids are in school (until 2:30, which means this is the first time in seven years I don’t have a child home in the early afternoon!), and I’ve been trying to take advantage of that time by enjoying the city more than I’ve been able to since becoming a mom. I squeeze in as much work as I can during Joanie’s naps in the first half of the week and on Thursdays when she’s in school all day so that on Fridays I can go do stuff I’m not able to enjoy as well with kids in tow. Yesterday I went to the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Whitney, which I highly recommend. And then last night, I started watching an Andy Warhol documentary, but it’s four hours long and I fell asleep before it was even half over. Maybe I’ll try again tonight.

Drew is at a friend’s kid’s bar mitzvah in New Jersey this morning and I am internetting and cleaning house at the moment while the kids watch a movie. Then I hope to convince them to accompany me on a couple errands plus a stop at the playground. Tomorrow is family day at the Guggenheim for Jackson’s school, which means we get in free and there are a few workshops for the kids (plus there’s an exhibit there I want to see). But I anticipate much arguing over going, which I probably won’t have the patience to deal with, and so I will likely see the exhibit on one of my aforementioned kid-free Fridays. (And I can even get a free ticket from Jackson’s school for people who couldn’t make it to the museum for Family Day, so how cool is that?)

Hey, by the way, since Thanksgiving is next week already (!) and many of you are, or soon will be, starting your holiday gift shopping, I wanted to remind you that any time you make a purchase through my amazon affiliate link (see the widget in the side bar), I get a small commission. Those small commissions really add up, especially this time of year, and help keep this site running. So thank you in advance for your continued support, and have a great weekend!


Friday Links

Here are a few things from around the web that may interest you:

Michelle Obama is on a publicity tour promoting her new book so we’re lucky to have a few Michelle interviews and articles to enjoy this week, like:
Michelle Obama left her job so her husband could be president. Now it’s her turn to shine. The Obamas’ “seesaw marriage” could be a model for modern relationships.”

And: “Michelle Obama is Still Optimistic.”

And: “Michelle Obama on Her Relationship With Barack Now: ‘We are finding each other again. We have dinners alone and chunks of time where it’s just us — what we were when we started this thing: no kids, no publicity, no nothing. Just us and our dreams.'”

Related to yesterday’s column, maybe: Your Mother’s Romantic Past Affects Your Own Dating Adventures

Why I’m Going Back to Work Even Though I Get Paid Less Than Childcare Costs

Actress Ann Dowd from The Handmaid’s Tale on What It Was Like Not Finding Success Until Her Fifties

If You Like a Guy, Tell Him. Only Then Will Women Be Free

15 people reveal the best marriage advice they ever received from their parents

“The U.S. teen pregnancy rate has plummeted to a third of its modern high. When this decline started, in the 1990s, it was widely and rightly embraced. But now some observers are beginning to wonder whether an unambiguously good thing might have roots in less salubrious developments. Signs are gathering that the delay in teen sex may have been the first indication of a broader withdrawal from physical intimacy that extends well into adulthood.”

— Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex? Despite the easing of taboos and the rise of hookup apps, Americans are in the midst of a sex recession.

Why female pleasure must be at the heart of sex education

9 Breezy Responses to Those Awkward Family Holiday Questions

Thank you to those who submitted links for me to include. If you see something around the web you think DW readers would appreciate, please send me a link to [email protected] and, if it’s a fit, I’ll include it in Friday’s round-up. Thanks!

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I am hoping to revisit the topic from “From the Mailbag: “It’s Wrong to Go to a Wedding Without Your Significant Other.” My situation brings a unique twist to the topic and I am desperate for non-biased advice.

My husband, James, and I separated in 2017 for about seven months and he even filed for divorce, but we decided to reconcile and have been together ever since (about 14 months). We are not living together but we are a couple, and both of our immediate families know that we are together and working through our problems. (I am very close with my entire family and he has continued to be a part of our family life — he doesn’t really speak to his family except for his mom and dad.) Although my family has been extremely supportive, his mom has made it clear to me that she doesn’t want us together. (I hurt her son deeply and he told her everything which I understand, but I’ve also been working all year to reconcile with her as well.)

Long story short, he still lives back at his parents’ house and his mom is very controlling. She opens his mail, makes decisions for him without telling him, etc., so I was not terribly surprised last Thursday when he sent a text that his cousin’s wedding was that coming weekend and I clearly wasn’t invited. I was at the house a few nights earlier and nothing was said about it. His mom simply told him Thursday night that they were leaving the next day after work for his cousin’s wedding (about a three-hour to four-hour drive away). I don’t know who I am mad at more: her for not telling her sister and niece to invite me or James for not standing up to his mom for me.

I expressed how upset I was about this to him multiple times and in multiple ways. The way I see it, if I am not welcome there, how could he disregard my feelings and go anyway just to make his mom happy? I would never go somewhere he is not welcome and, furthermore, would never allow my family to exclude him from anything!

Do you still think it was OK to leave the other half at home or am I standing on solid ground being this upset (to the point where I am ready to walk away after this – it feels like my breaking point)? I accept that James’ mom will never feel the same way about me again, but she shouldn’t deliberately come between us and he definitely shouldn’t allow it! How do I stay with someone who won’t put me first ahead of his mom? How do I have children with a man who won’t stick up for me? — Ready to Walk Away

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updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Cut Out Dad?” (LW2) who wrote in last week about her deadbeat dad and whether she was right to cut him out of her and her baby’s lives. “I love my dad, but I cannot stand the fact that he won’t take his balls out of his wife’s purse and stand up for his children. My sister and brother are depressed that they are being told that my dad doesn’t love them anymore and that he hopes they are happy with themselves.” Update below.

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I grew up as an only child of a single mother in a tight-knit and somewhat conservative community in Michigan. My mother was a gold-digger, irresponsible, and kinda slutty. Don’t get me wrong; I loved her. She took care of me the best she could and I appreciate everything she did for me, but that’s who she was: a gold-digger. She chased men with money all her life, even if they had families of their own. She wrecked many homes because she fucked the husbands. It’s actually how I came into the world; at age 25 she fucked her 57-year-old boss who was married with three teenage kids of his own. He later left his wife for her and they married briefly. They got divorced when I was three years old and she got enough money out of the divorce to get us to a nice home in a nice area.

My biological father took his own life within a few months of the divorce. His company was going bankrupt, he had lost most of his assets and hard-earned money in two draining divorces, and, most importantly, he had lost his family and kids from his previous marriage. It was a tight-knit community and I grew up hearing all this nasty stuff about how my slutty mom destroyed a good man and a good family. It used to get to me and it kinda shaped how I still feel about myself and my mom. My mother, on the other hand, never gave a shit about what people thought of her. She was an attractive woman who never had a hard time attracting attention from men. Even with a kid and a not-so-good reputation, she found one rich lover after another. They were mostly married men when they met her. My mother remarried three more times. Her longest marriage lasted about five years.

Anyway, in her forties, my mom fell in love with a woman. Her new lover (Nicole), who moved in with us after only a few months, was also in her forties and gave up her cat for me (I’m allergic to cats). Nicole also had joint custody of her daughter (Kate) who is five years younger than I am. So, Kate also lived with us every other week. I was almost 16 back then, and I was disgusted by my mom’s new relationship. I think I made them live through hell with my rude behaviors and tantrums. But Nicole turned out to be the best thing that happened to us. She brought some discipline and positive change into our house. And she loved my mother deeply and turned her into a decent person. Together they started a successful catering business, and we became financially stable. It took me two years to realize that Nicole was in it for the long haul. Believe me, I seized every opportunity to test her patience and will, but she always showed me love and respect, even when I didn’t deserve any. She was my north star in high school. She empowered me to take the SATs and studied with me, read my college applications, and pushed me to applyto college. She also helped me get my driving license. My mother died in 2016 at age 50, and I believe the last nine years of her life were the happiest because of Nicole.

Now let’s get to the real problem. A couple of months ago, I tried to contact my half-sister from my biological father’s family. To my surprise, she was delighted to meet me. She knew my mother had died and it was my understanding that the family didn’t want anything to do with my mother and hence with me. But once she was out of the picture, they were willing to welcome me into the family because, like my sister put it, “after all, I’m still their blood.” I was invited to a couple of gatherings, and I felt really good about becoming a part of the family. I learned recently that they don’t approve of the presence of Nicole in my life. I still maintain a very close relationship with both Nicole and her daughter Kate who is in college now. I consider them to be my family, even though Nicole and my mom never married, and I know I will always have a place in Nicole’s home. I tried to explain all that to my biological sister, but for them Nicole is a lesbian that can’t be family.

Last week, my biological sister stopped by at my new apartment and was surprised to find Nicole helping me finish settling in. She told me later that no one from her family will be setting foot in my house, nor will I ever be invited to any family functions until I decide what I want. She told me they have nothing specifically against Nicole and they don’t even know her, but they don’t approve of homosexuality and they want me to start my life over with no traces from my or my mother’s past.

I really, really want to feel like a normal person for once — someone who is not shunned and rejected by one’s family. I keep thinking what if I become a parent one day. I don’t want my kids to grow up like I did, not knowing their extended family. I’d like them to have blood-related uncles, aunts, and cousins and to be accepted by everyone. But Nicole, even though not related to me by blood, was the one who accepted me when no one else did. She became a family for me and my mom when we had no one on our side. Choosing her will mean cutting all ties for once and all with this cruel tight-knit community that always rejected me. And I’m afraid that one day I will come to regret my decision. What do you think? — Wanting a Family

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