Long days alone make trucker's wife feel abandoned

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DEAR ABBY: After almost 30 years of marriage, my husband Grant, took a long-distance trucking job. This leaves me alone on many Sundays and evenings, and Im having a terrible time adjusting to it. I feel sad lots of times, like Im living the life of a widow. Being a widow is terrible, but living like one while your husband is still alive seems worse.

I attend any social event that gives me contact with people while Grant is away. Sundays are difficult because I am limited to visiting older women who are widows. My children are grown and live hundreds of miles away, and I dont want to impose on my married friends who have their husbands to do things with.

Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, but it makes me feel distant and bitter. Do other wives of airplane pilots, traveling salesmen, truckers, etc., feel the same way I do? How can I change my attitude?

TRUCKER WIDOW

DEAR WIDOW: The surest way to change your attitude is to start celebrating your independence instead of cursing it. You have too much time on your hands. Buy a pet, adopt a hobby, start taking classes while your husband is away, and fill those lonely hours of separation. You can be as happy as you make up your mind to be or as miserable. Its a question of mind over matter.

DEAR ABBY: My son was an Apache helicopter pilot in the Army. He was active in the initial invasion of Iraq and spent a year serving his country. It was a very difficult time for me. Eventually I suffered a nervous breakdown from the stress.

My son is now honorably discharged and safe at home. My problem is that friends keep sending me war-related e-mails and updates. If I know what they are by the subject line, I delete them.

Recently, I got an e-mail about a soldier whose job it was to inform the families when their loved ones had been killed. I had an emotional meltdown when I saw it. I know firsthand the fear that family members feel.

I was driving my car when I heard an Apache helicopter went down and two soldiers were taken hostage. I nearly crashed the vehicle. It could have been my son. It taught me not to listen to the news while driving.

How do I tell everyone not to send me correspondence about the war and the goings-on in Iraq? They have no idea how this affects me. I havent seen this issue addressed in your column.

SALLY

DEAR SALLY: Im sure your friends mean well, so tell them in plain English exactly what you have told me. You should also contact the physician who treated you at the time of your nervous breakdown and explain that you are still experiencing problems. Some sessions with a psychiatrist who specializes in post-traumatic stress may be able to help you finally close this chapter of your life.

DEAR ABBY: My family is going to buy a new sofa and loveseat because our old ones are in very bad shape. Thyere in bad shape because we have two moochers who use them as their bed. So why buy a new set if it will only end up like the old one? Isnt it a waste of money?

HOLLY

DEAR HOLLY: Yes, and that is why Im suggesting that your family wait until you can buy a new sofa, loveseat and an air mattress to accommodate the moochers. Either that, or learn to say no.

DEAR ABBY: From time to time you ask your readers to dump on Abby. Well, summer is coming around again, and this message is for working parents who dont realize theyre taking advantage of family and friends.

So you drop off your children to play in the a.m. and pick them up in the p.m.? Did you think to:

Pack a lunch?

Send a snack to share?

Rent a video?

Buy a pool toy?

Send a game?

Buy sunscreen?

Send a craft? Cookie dough? Juice?

While working parents save money by sending their children to play all day, my food bill triples. The extra money I spend in pool chemicals, water, laundry and toys also triples. I choose to stay home with my children, and I love having their friends over. But every year seems to bring an even greater financial hardship. I dont know how much more blunt Please send a snack to share can be.

If any of your readers see this, Abby, and realize that they are one of those clueless working parents thinking stay-at-home moms have it made, Ill trade them my referee shirt, food bill and mess.

Please, folks, be grateful and considerate of the person who is watching and loving your child for free, and show your appreciation.

ANYWHERE, U.S.A.

DEAR ANYWHERE: I dont think youre asking too much in requesting that parents who send their children to spend the day include a snack that can be shared. Although your list was quite inclusive, any readers who are confused about exactly what that means should pick up the phone and ask their child-care provider what they can do to make the childrens day more special.

DEAR ABBY: I just turned 23. During the past two years I have married, bought a house, had a baby, and am finishing up my B.A. degree in a few short months. I hold down a full-time job and still make time for my son, my husband, and even occasionally squeeze in a little me time. I have a wonderful life, and I would not change anything.

My problem is I am still only 23. Occasionally I like a girls night out. We go out as a group, eat dinner, have a couple of drinks, dance and have a good time. This is enough to satisfy my need to let loose, and I never do anything inappropriate.

On several occasions when I have mentioned these girls nights out to older relatives, theyll respond with, Mothers dont behave that way, or, You arent a college student any longer. But Abby, I AM a college student! I dont do this very often. Im just out with friends, having fun. The majority of the time I spend the weekends with my son, going to the park or playing with our pets.

It is now hunting season. My husband is gone for days at a time. We support each other. I have no problem with him doing things he likes, and he supports my occasional evenings out with my friends. I thought I was doing OK, but now my relatives have me second-guessing myself. Am I being inappropriate? Id like your input.

MELISSA IN FLORIDA

DEAR MELISSA: This is between you and your husband. As long as he doesnt mind your occasional nights out with the girls, youll get no argument from me. This is also nobody elses business including your older relatives so my advice to you is to stop making it a subject of conversation.

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