While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On who-brings-whom battles over family vacations: As the mother of four now-grown children, our family vacation policy was, and still is, NO ring, NO bring. If you are engaged or married, your partner is totally welcomed. If not, they are not included on our family vacations. The formally unattached can vacation on their time and dollar with whomever they desire.
We didn’t want a revolving door of random boyfriends/girlfriends being a part of our family vacations. It has nothing to do with whether we like them. It’s served us well.
On the hidden costs of being cheap: My mother was parsimonious with tips and quick to complain about everything from smokers at a nearby table to the quality of the salad dressing. She was a wealthy woman who delighted in pinching a dime until it screamed and believed everyone was out to cheat her. Shopping and eating out with her was an embarrassment. She regularly insulted sales clerks, wait staff, cab drivers and anyone she encountered in the service industry. I saw her drive a florist to tears with her insults over an arrangement of flowers a friend had sent her (the vase they arrived in was “cheap”).
She was a sour, angry complainer for as long as I knew her, and spent the last few years of her life wondering why nobody came to visit.
My family is quick to remind me whenever I slip into “Jean” behavior.
Nothing Like Mom
On the conventional wisdom of withholding pregnancy news before 12 weeks: When I got pregnant, I didn’t share my news with my extended family due to the conventional wisdom of waiting until after the first trimester – although I did tell my closest friends and parents.
Well, right at the end of my first trimester, I miscarried. I’m so grateful that I had the support of my mom and closest friends when that happened. And in fact, I ended up sharing the news with more people after the fact, such as my boss and cousins, because miscarriage is such a traumatic event that dealing with the grief secretly felt impossible. Plus, it felt like the right thing to do by my baby – to acknowledge his life, however short.
I lost a pregnancy well into the second trimester and for me, telling someone I was no longer pregnant who didn’t know I had been was the worst part. The first look of horror then sadness on their faces was just awful. If they already knew, it was much easier to talk. Because of that, I asked people to tell others, and my husband did something similar.
As people learned about what happened, we found out how common miscarriages are. It was really eye-opening when so many friends and family members told their stories, some decades old but still painful to recount.
My husband took it as a call to be a kinder person, because we have no idea what sadness people are carrying around.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.