Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Doctor Love: Mama is Tired

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Dear Dr. Love,
My husband and I are both in our second marriage, and we each have two grown children and nine grandchildren combined! We are lucky that they all live nearby, and we love celebrating holidays and special occasions together. Family dinners are always at our house. We are in our 70s, and doing this gets costly and extremely time-consuming. Everyone loves my cooking, especially my tamales, which are a big chore for one person. Only my one daughter offers to bring a dish or help in the kitchen, while everyone else just sits on the porch, drinking and visiting until the meal is ready. Sometimes, I’ll get a call the day before or the day of the event to ask if they can bring something, but of course, all groceries are bought by then and almost everything is well on its way to being prepared. These last-minute offers don’t take any burden off us at all! How do we tell them nicely that they are old enough to lend a hand in the kitchen and help Mama out? /s/Mama is Tired

Dear Mama is Tired,
It sounds like you’ve got a big beautiful blended family! But even with all that love around, it’s completely understandable that hosting and cooking for such a big crowd can wear you down, especially with those legendary tamales on the menu.
It’s great that you want to keep the family traditions alive, but it’s also important to look after your own well-being. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for help. Here’s a friendly way to get the message across.
Maybe a few days before the next family gathering, you could call a family meeting or send out a message. Let them know how much you cherish these get-togethers and how you look forward to them. Then, gently share that as much as you love hosting, it’s becoming a bit tough to manage everything on your own.
You can suggest a potluck style for the meals where everyone brings a dish. This not only divides the workload but also gives everyone a chance to share their favorite recipes. For those who might not cook, they can chip in with setting up, cleaning up, or even contributing towards the groceries.
Make sure to express that this isn’t about not wanting to host but about making these gatherings more manageable and enjoyable for you as well. Most families understand and respect that, especially when they realize it’s coming from a place of love and not frustration.
Your family loves your cooking, but they probably love you more and would jump at the chance to make things easier for you once they realize how you feel. ~ Dr. Love

Dear Dr. Love,
My ex kept me hanging on for three years. Things were on and off for three years because of his “emotionally unstable” ex. Eventually, I left for good. A few months ago, he got back in touch, we got back together, and we became closer than EVER. Except for one thing. He kept me a secret so she (the “emotionally unstable ex”) wouldn’t find out “until the time was right.” I then found out that her clothes were still at his place, and he wouldn’t take them back to her. He said SHE needed to come and get them. I found out she was still texting him and telling him she loved him. Instead of ignoring her, he texted her back (“to keep her sweet”). In the end, I lost my temper and kicked off. We have now split up, and he says it’s because of my rage AND my need always to be right. Was I right to leave this situation, or has he got a point? /s/ Rage Isn’t Me

Dear Rage Isn’t Me,
It sounds like you’ve been through a real rollercoaster with your ex, and that’s tough. It’s clear you gave this relationship a genuine shot, even after past troubles. But from what you’ve shared, it looks like you’ve been more than patient with a situation that hasn’t been fair to you.
Keeping you a secret to supposedly protect his ex’s feelings is a red flag. It suggests he wasn’t fully ready to commit to moving forward with you openly and honestly. A relationship thrives on transparency and trust, and it seems like those were missing. Moreover, him maintaining communication with his ex under the guise of “keeping her sweet” is another concern. It’s important for partners to set boundaries with exes, especially if their interactions disrupt the current relationship.
Your reaction—while intense—came from a place of frustration after being put in a difficult and emotionally taxing situation. It’s natural to feel upset when you feel like you’re not being treated with the respect and honesty you deserve.
As for leaving, trusting your gut and seeking a relationship where you feel valued and secure is important. A partner should make you feel like a priority, not a secret. If this relationship made you feel otherwise, stepping away might have been the best move for your well-being. ~ Dr.Love

Dear Dr. Love,
There are only two kids in our family. I am the youngest daughter and have one older brother. I wasn’t very close with my brother when we were young, but we have a great relationship now that we’re older. My brother’s wife has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and the outlook is not good. I have never been close to her, and now I feel quite awkward around her and at a loss for words. I think about her and my brother a lot and want to be a comforting presence and do something for her, but I am at a loss. I’ve made meals and things like that, but I don’t know what else to do. Any ideas? /s/ Want to Help

Dear Want to Help,
It’s really commendable that you want to support your brother and his wife during this tough time, especially considering your feelings of awkwardness due to not being very close. Your efforts to make meals and your desire to do more already show a lot of care and compassion.
Besides meals, see if there are other practical things you can assist with, like running errands, helping with housework, or managing appointments. Sometimes, taking care of these routine tasks can significantly alleviate their burden.
Simply being there can be a huge comfort. You might feel awkward, but just sitting quietly in the same room, offering to watch a movie together, or even reading in a shared space can make a difference. Presence often speaks louder than words.
Put together a care package with some comforting items like cozy socks, a soft blanket, a favorite snack, and perhaps a thoughtful card. This can be a gentle way to show you care without needing to find the right words.
Regularly checking in through texts, calls, or emails can show that you care. Even if you’re not talking about her illness, just sending a message to let them know you’re thinking about them can be comforting.
If she feels up to it, organizing a light activity that you can do together, like crafting or watching a series, might help break the ice and give you both something to focus on besides the illness.
If she or your brother want to talk, offer your ears. Being a good listener is often one of the best ways to support someone. Let them share their fears, thoughts, or daily struggles without judgment.
It’s natural to feel at a loss for words in such situations, but your willingness to help and your actions are already powerful expressions of support. Keep showing up in whatever way you can; it truly matters. ~ Dr. Love

Doctor Love is the islands, and possibly the world’s greatest authority on just about everything. The Doctor answers questions concerning any subject except religion or politics. Persons needing additional assistance or counseling should contact Family Services Division at 227-7541. The opinions herein are not necessarily of The San Pedro Sun. Write Doctor Love at PO Box 51, San Pedro Town, Belize, or email: [email protected]

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