My father was sick for most of my teenage years. He was a businessman and philanthropist, and had made very good money prior to getting sick. Finances were not a worry while he focused on his health. He and my mother travelled a lot, both for his health, to places such as Arizona and Palm Springs; and because he was worried his life would be cut short, so they went to exotic locales. They always went alone, leaving my sister and I at home.
We didn’t mind at the time, and enjoyed our freedom. Our house was the party house. I got married in my late 20s and while pregnant with my first child, my mother had a massive heart attack and died. My father lived long enough to meet his first grandchild, but then died of a broken heart.
I’m now pregnant with my second child and I’ve just discovered that my husband has been cheating on me. I want nothing less than to take my toddler and run, but I have nowhere to go and am starting to feel like the world is abandoning me.
What do you suggest?
Orphaned and alone
You are not alone. Reach out to your sister, your aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends. I strongly suggest you speak to a therapist to understand your feelings of abandonment and how to overcome them. Your parents did not leave you; your mother’s death was sudden, shocking and unexpected. Your father had come to rely on her during his illness, and without her he couldn’t fight. That’s about him and not you. But your feelings are valid and legit, which is why I suggest you speak to someone.
As far as your husband goes, if you think there’s any chance you can move past his indiscretions, with the help of marriage counselling, then it’s worth making the effort. But if his cheating is a deal-breaker for you, then you need to find the strength to leave.
When I was young, my parents seemed to have a good marriage. From my perspective, one day I woke up and my dad had left. My mom never spoke about it. As soon as we were old enough to go to university, she moved back to the city where she was born (same country).
My father went on to marry the woman he had reportedly had an affair with, and they stayed married until his death about five years ago. She was fine towards myself and my siblings, and generous and warm to our children. But I felt she never really looked me in the eye.
People often come up to me and say, “Oh, I saw your mom today. She’s so nice” …. but she’s not my mom and I don’t think she’s so nice. How do I respond to people? It’s always so uncomfortable.
From your longer letter, I understand that this woman was a good partner to your father for decades, even acting as his caregiver in his last year or so. For that alone, she deserves some of your respect. As such, when people comment on your stepmom, not realizing she’s not your mom, you can respectfully correct them.
Most people won’t think much of it because without the emotional attachment it’s just a simple mistake. If they continue to go on about her, just smile and end the conversation with something like, “that’s nice,” and change the subject.
FEEDBACK Regarding the grandparents who wish to alter Christmas to suit their schedule (Sept. 27):
Reader – “Regarding the grandparents who go to Arizona every year in November…. You stated that the daughters-in-law were selfish. I disagree.
“We go to Florida every year and we wait to go until after Christmas so that we can have Christmas with our family. I know many people who fly back for Christmas from Florida. They could easily fly back a week before Christmas, before it gets crazy. If they have serious health issues, they should consider whether they should be traveling at all.
“I think the grandparents are the selfish ones. It is their choice to leave in November, not anyone else's. They need to accept the consequences of their decisions instead of expecting everyone else to accommodate them.”
Lisi – I read their query as a plea to spend time with their grandchildren, not an expectation. I’m all about nurturing the multigenerational relationship.