Roamin’ Holiday

22 May

Dear LetterBalm: My husband has retired, and our children are grown and gone. It’s time for us to hit the road and see places around the world we’ve always wanted to see. My mother is happy when we invite her for meals or day trips, but she gets angry when my husband and I want to go on a long-distance trip. She practically had hysterics when he and I went to Paris two months ago – a planned trip for our 30th anniversary. Since my dad died 10 years ago, my mom has lived on her own in an apartment, surrounded by friends. She’s healthy and active. She never wanted to travel with our dad; he wanted to go, but she was the one who balked. It seems that now she has a combination of jealousy because she never took the chance to travel and fear for our safety. How can I defuse this?

–Footloose

It’s a good time to address this issue, with summer rapidly approaching and folks taking off in every direction. You can defuse your problem in the clearest way possible: Don’t interrupt your travel plans one bit to accommodate your mom’s neurosis. She is, indeed, jealous, and regrets holding your dad back from taking trips with her when he was alive. And, she is worrying about you. Don’t fall into your mom’s trap. Don’t let her make you feel guilty – stay upbeat and calm. She’s alert and healthy, so she’ll be just fine while you’re gone. And, you’ll have lots to talk about (plus a nice gift or two for her) when you return. Ms. L.B. recommends a no-nonsense talk with her thusly:

Mom, it distresses Robert and me that you raise such objections when we take trips. We understand that you might be concerned for our safety in foreign places, and I want to reassure you that we take no undue risks – we even have special medical and trip insurance. Please don’t begrudge our trips; we’ve waited so long to do this. You’re far too vibrant and active to worry so much. You know we always keep in touch via phone and postcards while we’re gone. And, we’ll continue to bring back the kind of gifts we know you love and tell you all about our adventures.

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