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Carolyn Hax: Sometimes, it’s best to just be grateful

Dear Carolyn: My daughter graduates high school in June, and I informed our family of the date this past September.

My stepmother called a couple of weeks ago and informed me that my dad was coming to the graduation and it would be a sacrifice, because he has a bad back and can barely walk as of late.

She said she couldn’t come because a co-worker put in for the same time and it’s really difficult to get time off. She has been complaining for 20 years about her job and that she might be let go at any moment.

Today, my dad informed me that he and my stepmother are taking a two-week vacation next week. Miraculously, his back is feeling better and my stepmother can get the time off. I was confused, because I thought it was hard for my stepmother to get time off. He said she put in the request in January – four months after I told them the graduation date.

I’m stunned that all of a sudden my dad is better, and disappointed my stepmother doesn’t want to come to my daughter’s graduation.

Am I crazy to think this is rude?

What to Do

Maybe she would rather vacation than see you, and maybe she doesn’t care about your family, and maybe she fibbed about his back and her time off.

But, maybe her co-worker did grab the June vacation time before your stepmother did, and nobody had spoken for the April/May weeks she wanted for their vacation.

And maybe she does care about your family, but finds graduations uncomfortable, dull and lousy for actually spending time with the guest of honor.

And maybe Dad’s back has improved.

And maybe she and your dad have a rich and full life that includes vacations, which they’re entitled to. And they still manage to show up to wave the flag for their families, which your dad is doing for his grandchild.

When someone hands you a piece of cake, you can be grateful for the indulgence, or you can be offended that you were handed just a piece instead of the whole thing.

You have that choice here.

Your daughter is graduating, your dad will be there, and, hey, he’s feeling good and enjoying life with your stepmother – who may very well be dodging this graduation for all she’s worth, but also may not be.

That means you can choose to be grateful for what you have, or to reach for offense at not getting more.

I recommend the former.

Dear Carolyn: So, my boyfriend of three years has been looking for a new job without much luck.

He hates his job after some changes in the past year, and it is really getting him down.

Now he wants to quit his job and travel for an extended, unspecified amount of time overseas. Is this goodbye?

Anonymous

I don’t know, but I think it would be a gift to you both if you freed him, and yourself, to go wherever life takes you from here.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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