Dear Annie: I have been married to my husband for more than nine years and still have a problem with my mother-in-law. When I had a bridal shower, Mom didn't reply, didn't show up and never sent a card. This made me feel unwelcome. (She still has a picture of my husband and his ex-girlfriend on her wall.)
I told my husband that when we have a baby shower, I really want his mother to attend. After years of struggling with infertility, we received wonderful news. We are adopting a baby girl. My aunt offered to give me a baby shower, and I waited until the judge's final decision before I said yes. My husband told his mother how important it was that she be there, and that not showing up would be hurtful to me.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, our adoption case is hung up in the courts. We had the shower anyway, but my mother-in-law didn't attend, saying we don't actually have a baby yet. She said she'd visit after we get her. Again, she didn't even send a card.
Annie, it's not about a gift. It's about caring enough to be there. My in-laws visit only once a year, but they expect us to make numerous trips to their home and often make my husband feel guilty when we don't make it down for occasions that are important to them.
I can't stop feeling that my mother-in-law doesn't accept me. Should I tell her how hurt I am or let it go? Disappointed Daughter-in-Law
Dear Disappointed: We don't know if Mom doesn't accept you, if she has difficulty traveling or if she is simply socially ignorant. But you can't fix what you don't address. After nine years of marriage, it's time to have a heart-to-heart with Mom, in person, with your husband and your father-in-law present. Do it in as loving a manner as you can manage. Don't bring up past hurts that will put her on the defensive. Simply say how important she is to you and how much you want her to be part of your daughter's life. We hope it helps.
Dear Annie: What do we do when Granny is too old to keep driving, but won't stop? Any mention of her not getting behind the wheel is met with screaming rage.
Even though Grandma has had many near accidents, she feels she is still a competent driver and the other motorists are to blame. My whole family is afraid to ride with her. How do we get her to give up her driver's license after almost 40 years on the road? Road Worrier
Dear Worried: Suggest that Grandma enroll in the AARP Driver Safety Course (aarp.org) as a way to brush up on her skills. Also check into alternative means of transportation, including local senior transportation, willing family members, etc. If she still won't give up her license and you believe she is a danger on the road, enlist the help of her doctor, the DMV and, if necessary, the police.
Dear Annie: Like many of your readers, I am an adult child who hadn't been in touch with my family. I didn't realize that my mom needed to hear from me.
I have three active children, work full time and am a caregiver for a family member in my home, so I am really busy. I figured if Mom wanted to talk, she'd phone. But during a recent visit, she said she hates always being the one to call and would love to hear from me once a week, even if it's only a text message to say "I love you" or "I'm thinking of you."
That was all I needed to be reminded that I'm her kiddo. She just wants to hear my voice and know how I'm doing. Long-Distance Daughter
Dear Daughter: Bless you for getting the message that it's all about love.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.