My boyfriend lives in Georgia, and I want to move there after graduation. My mom and sister act like I’d be abandoning my sons though. Their dad will still be in Illinois, and although they are welcome to move with me, I doubt they will because they don’t want to leave friends.
I have been visiting my boyfriend a few times during the year for 3-4 weeks at a time, and my mom makes it a big deal because I am leaving my sons with their dad. The backstory is their dad isn’t very involved – he is “just there” and I am expected to do everything for them. They are supposed to go to his house every other week but don’t always stick to that plan.
I feel it is unfair to give me the guilt trip, considering I have given up so much for them already, and I want to live my life when they are grown. Once again, they are welcome to move with me. Am I being selfish because I want to visit my boyfriend and then move to be with him? — Sacrificial Mom
It’s unfair, but it sounds as though your co-parent isn’t giving your sons what they need and so, unfortunately, the responsibility of meeting their needs falls almost exclusively on you. And, also unfairly, that means that you can’t really leave them for weeks at a time when they’re still minors. It doesn’t matter that the person you’re leaving them with is their dad if their dad doesn’t actually take care of them. But that doesn’t mean you are without options. You can talk with your sons’ dad about what your sons need from him and even seek out co-parenting mediation to help you arrive at some agreements about their care. You could shorten your visits to your boyfriend (three to four weeks at a time, several times a year is a long time for a single parent to be away from her kids without a suitable caregiver to fill in in her place). And you could have your boyfriend make the majority of the visits to you until you move to Georgia.
And about that move: Once your kids are legally no longer minors, your role as primary caregiver changes as does your obligation to your sons. You aren’t “abandoning” them by moving to another state. They may decide they want to move, too – maybe to a different region entirely. They will have goals and dreams and interests and relationships of their own that may take them away from you, and that’s ok. You can model for them a way of following one’s path that might look different from different models they’re used to. And you can show them how it’s possible to continue cultivating relationships long-distance, too, and to maintain ties with people who are important to you.
If you do plan to leave in a few years, I hope you can prepare your sons for the expectations they’ll soon face living independently and paying bills and rent on their own. If you are leaving as soon as your younger son graduates high school, and he’ll be expected to immediately find his own housing and pay for it on his own, it would be a good idea to help him transition to that next stage, which can be big adjustment and may also be especially turbulent if his main support system has suddenly left the state.
I have been agonizing over this for many months. My husband needs more medical and physical help than I am able to provide by myself at home. His daughters want him placed in a care home close to them, but I think it’s best if he go to a facility near where we live now. We have been married for 15 years, and my husband became dependent on me slowly over the last ten years and then fully dependent the last two years. I have done my best to manage him and his care needs at home by myself, which has been emotionally difficult.
His daughters live in another province/state and have had limited visits with their dad. In fact, over the last 10 years they have only seen their dad when I have taken the initiative to make arrangements that are convenient for them. They have no idea of the full scope of care he requires. They think they do, because he doesn’t seem “that bad” for the few days they see him when I extensively plan a visit for him, including preparing all his meds, packing everything he might need, and writing extensive instruction. They have no exposure to his medical management, his loss of memory for everyday things, or his needs that are left unspoken (non-verbal clues). When we lived in the same or adjacent towns, they rarely visited him (only 1-2 times per year). They both have jobs and families.
I feel that he needs to be close to me, his wife, so that I can visit and continue to oversee his care and needs in addition to providing loving emotional support. I feel they are being selfish, knowing that they have not demonstrated reliability or self-sacrifice for him in the past. They want to “reclaim” what they feel is rightfully theirs – their dad – away from the “terrible woman” who stole him from them 15 years ago.
Am I being selfish wanting him to remain close so we can continue to have a life together for as long as his health allows? — Caregiving Wife
No, you’re not being selfish. You’re looking out for your husband, just like you always have, and you are committed to do as long as he’s alive. Where your husband lives is your choice (and his, if he’s of sound mind or if he shared his wishes while he still was). His daughters don’t get to decide this, and you don’t owe them anything (except regular access to their dad as long as all parties want that). You will continue to be a main support person and caregiver to your husband, and you need to keep him where it’s most convenient for you to maintain those roles. Let his daughters be upset if that’s what happens. Who cares? If they want to see their dad, they’ll have to get over it and make the commute. If they can’t even do that a couple times a year, no way would they be able to provide your husband the kind of care you do. Why should your husband have to compromise your care for them? Why should you have to compromise your relationship for them? Say no, and don’t give it a second thought.
She always wants to hang out at either her place or ours. She does not like to go out because she doesn’t like to spend money. When we do hang out, she basically cleans out her refrigerator and just dumps on us a random assortment of things to eat. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but she gives us old stuff. I have to check the packaging to make sure the food isn’t expired. She made sausages one time that were freezer burned, and she proudly announced she had gotten them on clearance for a dollar a pack a year prior. Inviting her to our place is no different. I can say “do not bring anything, I have it all taken care of,” and she’ll still bring an entire box that she just unloads on the table. Then she demands everyone try her stuff before what I have prepared. She made my sister so uncomfortable one July 4th that she left early because she didn’t want to eat anything of Natalie’s.
I wouldn’t care about this except for the fact that I am worried she is going to give everyone food poisoning one day serving all this old junk. What can I do? — Avoiding Food Poisoning
You can’t maintain this friendship as is. You need new boundaries, which should include either of the following: being really direct with her and telling her you are bothered by the food she serves both at her house and at yours and you are worried about food poisoning and also about ruining anyone’s appetite before their eating the food you’ve prepared; or, you could simply avoid any food-related activities with her, which may dramatically limit your time with her and naturally shift your friendship to a different level of closeness. Which path you choose depends on your understanding of Natalie’s mental health and her ability to process your message, as well as your relationship with her and how much potential tension or threat you think it can withstand.