When Sticky Fingers Are a Sticky Wicket
Dear Margo: Two sons and their wives visited us for Christmas last year. We have a large three-story home and live five to seven hours away from our children. I decorated the stairs leading to the second floor with three framed Christmas embroideries from our Serbian daughter-in-law. I removed three expensive, framed Chinese pictures (from the other son) and carefully placed them together in a closet.
When Christmas was over, I went to put the Chinese pictures back up, but one was missing! I have searched every corner in this house and have not found it. We are sure our second light-fingered son stole it. My heart is broken that he and his wife would be so bold as to steal something so large and personal while staying with us. What do I do? If I confront them, I may never see my granddaughter again. But I can’t let it go, and here come the holidays! — Forlorn
Dear For: When you refer to your “light-fingered son,” there is more than a suggestion that he is known for this behavior and has done it before. Kleptomania or not, the arrow of guilt points nowhere else. You clearly put the Chinese pictures away together, and one was missing.
It would have been good if you had dealt with this earlier, but better late than never. I would call him and say you have done a very careful reconstruction of the situation and, given his history, you would like the Chinese picture back. If there is denial, a reminder of his history is in order. Dealing with him is better than “them,” and I don’t think they would withhold your granddaughter. And for this visit, count the silver. Merry Christmas. — Margo, directly
Another Pushy M-I-L
Dear Margo: I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but I don’t know how to deal with my mother-in-law. She’s a master manipulator who pits her own children against each other, and she’s a know-it-all. I planned a wedding with my guy in mind, choosing all of the things he would like. I never wanted a big wedding, but I did it for him. She bad-mouthed me all weekend to anyone who would listen, and got so drunk she had to be carried out. Her own friends apologized for her behavior, but she denies anything ever happened.
Now I’m pregnant, and she’s on my case about my choice to breastfeed. (She didn’t, so obviously that is what everyone should do.) When I tell her it’s a personal decision, she tells me my mood swings are making me cranky. I have been lucky enough to have a wonderful pregnancy so far. I’m still working full time, cooking and cleaning for my husband, and life is good. But now I can’t bear to pick up the phone anymore. Talking to her is like talking to a brick wall.
My husband is supportive, but his position is: “That’s just how Mom is.” She insists on staying with us when the baby is born because I obviously have no idea what I’m doing. I just can’t take any more, and I’m ready to cut her off. What is my next step? — Upset
Dear Up: Because your husband sounds mostly supportive, take the bit in your teeth, and tell the battleaxe that your own mother is coming (if she is alive) or that you’ve arranged for some help. To reinforce your do-not-show-up dictum, have your husband buttress the edict with a phone call of his own. If push comes to shove, be prepared to lay it on the line that you and your husband are running your lives, not she. I do not believe in being held hostage by pushy people, parents included. — Margo, independently
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
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