Dear Prudence: Mother’s Day letters, including crowding kids, smelly daughters, and mothers-in-law.

Help! Can I Ask My College Kids Not to Come Home This Summer?

Help! Can I Ask My College Kids Not to Come Home This Summer?

Advice on manners and morals.
May 9 2013 6:15 AM

Leave Mama Alone

Crowding kids, smelly daughters, and a mom who cries at the drop of a hat, just in time for Mother’s Day.

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear When,
The good news is that given the actuarial tables, you only have to deal with your needy, weepy, passive-aggressive, helpless mother for about 30 more years! First, get Mom a check-up. She may be depressed and medication could give her a different outlook. But it could be that she might not need pills, and would be less of a pill, if she gets out of the house and back into the world. You say she retired, so at one time she managed to function at work. She needs to get out there again, either earning some money or volunteering. I cannot see how you can envision a future in which each evening you allow yourself to be stalked by your own mother. She is not old and unless she is destitute, she needs to find other living arrangements. Since everything hurts her, you can’t deliver this message without inflicting pain, so toughen up and speak up. Some time soon after you survive the suffocation of this Sunday’s Mother’s Day, let her know that things have to change.


Dear Prudence,
have a wonderful toddler and am pregnant with my second child. Mother's Day doesn't feel very special to me because since I’ve been a mother it’s been an argument on to how to spend the day. My parents live three hours away, and I'd like to see my mother and 92-year-old grandmother, whom I see only every other month. My husband’s family lives 10 minutes away and my mother-in-law watches my toddler (for free) every day. I'm grateful, but she and I have never had a good relationship. She’s stated that in-laws aren't really part of the family, that you are nice to them because you are supposed to be. If we spend time with my parents for a weekend, she guilt-trips my husband into spending more time with his family the following weekend. She’s exhausting. This year, I'd like to just ignore Mother's Day. My husband doesn't want to see my parents because he doesn't want to leave his mother out. He’d rather visit his mother and let my son and me see my parents for the weekend. My husband and I both have siblings who will be there to celebrate with our mothers. Am I being unreasonable in thinking I should have some say in Mother's Day, and that it could be a day where I sleep in, don't have to clean, or change diapers? A holiday where we can just do what we want as a family?

—Mothers Don’t


Dear Don’t,
Before the birth of your second child someone needs to pull your husband aside and clue him in that you’re a mother, and that one of his obligations is to make a day special for you, and not just scurry around hoping to keep his own mother from getting in a snit. The dynamic that’s been established needs addressing in a more global way, and that’s better done apart from the stress of Mother’s Day expectations. But as for this event, it seems as if your primary wish is to spend this day as a family with your family. That is eminently reasonable, and your husband should accompany you because that’s what husbands do, and also because driving by yourself with a toddler is no fun. He can explain to his own mother that all of you will celebrate a postponed Mother’s Day the following weekend. Let’s say she has a fit. Then your husband has to say he’s sorry but your own little family can’t be two places at once. Your mother-in-law’s baby-sitting may not cost money, but the implicit price is that she gets to make incessant demands. If you and your husband don’t start establishing limits, you’ll find the emotional costs to be exorbitant, and you may be better off just paying a professional sitter. I think Mother’s Day is a silly holiday, but you shouldn’t be dreading it because you feel neglected and manipulated by your nearest and his dearest.


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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.