Dear Annie: My son-in-law is everything a mother could pray for. He and my daughter have been married four years and have a beautiful 9-month-old child.
I was babysitting in their home last week and went to check my e-mail on their computer (as I have done many times). The computer was already logged on to the same mail server that I use, so I just clicked “inbox,” not realizing my son-in-law’s e-mail was already open. As I glanced at the page, I happened to see that the sender of the first e-mail was a Web site for an online dating service with a reply for him.
I am torn up inside. I didn’t mean to snoop and I didn’t open the e-mail. I don’t know if I should say anything to him or to my daughter. I am devastated and want to forget about it, but I can’t. If I decide to ask him about it, what should I say? — Distraught Mother-in-Law
Dear Distraught: Don’t jump to conclusions. Your son-in-law may have a perfectly innocent reason for that reply in his inbox, so give him the opportunity to explain. We assume you had permission to use their computer. Tell him, privately, that you accidentally noticed the e-mail subject line when you were babysitting and it upset you. If he becomes angry, chances are he’s hiding something. Otherwise, please listen with an open mind.
Dear Annie: Is it possible for two ex-friends to make amends after not being in each other’s lives for 10 years? I ended a friendship with “Bianca” because I thought it wasn’t working out. After five years, I tried to make it up to her, with no luck.
I miss having Bianca in my life and now realize the breakup was a stupid and harsh thing for me to do. I know we can’t go back to what we had, but I’d like to at least be able to call from time to time so we can be there for each other. It’s better than having nothing at all.
Is there anything I can do or say to get her to forgive me and give me another chance? I called Bianca’s mother and asked if I could come over and explain the whole story, and she agreed to see me. I’m hoping she will talk to Bianca on my behalf. Is that a good idea? — No More BFF
Dear No More: You have nothing to lose by trying. You hurt Bianca all those years ago and we don’t know what it will take for her to forgive you. It also will require a great leap of faith for her to risk her feelings again. We think it’s worth another attempt, although, sorry to say, there are no guarantees.
Dear Annie: “Curious in the East” asked how children feel when Mom leaves.
From my own experience, I can tell you that the pain and hurt may lessen, but they never go away.
When I was 12, my mother decided she needed a “change,” hooked up with an old boyfriend and moved to another city. My father and grandparents tried their best, but the added stress caused heart problems for Grandma, so my mother had no choice but to take custody of my younger brothers. They were left alone and afraid at Mom’s apartment while she worked evenings. Eventually she gave up on her “new life” and came back.
Even though our parents tried to make a go of it, the damage was done. We lost respect for her, and the resentment ran so deep that, after 35 years, I still feel betrayed. We have a decent relationship, but if the time comes when she can’t live on her own, I’ll have no regrets about putting her in a nursing home.
As a mother myself, I will never understand how she could turn her back on us. — Still Hurting
Dear Hurting: Your letter is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, it seems there are some wounds that time does not completely heal.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.24.08