DEAR ABBY: I am a childless stepmom with an enormous desire to be a mother. My husband has two kids and I love them, but he doesn't understand the emptiness I feel inside knowing I'll never have that biological bond of unconditional love with his kids.
I deal with anxiety and sometimes become easily frustrated when the kids stay with us. My husband thinks it's because the kids are "invading my space." I try to tell him it has more to do with the fact that I have this dream of being a whole family, but just as we get into a routine, the kids go back to their mom and we must start all over again.
We have talked about trying to have a baby together, but my husband is skeptical.
Do you think a new addition to a blended family would cause more problems than it would solve? — NEEDS TO BE A MOM
DEAR NEEDS: I define a "blended family" as one that encompasses "yours, mine and ours." What you have is a situation in which you want a child of your own, and your husband is afraid that if you have one, it will distract you from trying to get along better with HIS kids. What I think is that you and your husband should resolve this with a licensed marriage counselor to help you mediate this major difference in your perspectives — if that's possible.
DEAR ABBY: I am 55 and have never lived by myself. I married at 19, moving from my parents' house to live with my husband. We divorced a few years later, and I raised my two kids alone. They are in their 30s now. I did remarry and we were together for 23 years before I filed for divorce.
At the beginning of my separation, I moved in with my daughter and grandson, which benefited us both financially. I'm financially stable now, and so is my daughter. I'm ready to move out on my own, but my daughter says that's not fair because she wants to finish college and needs my help to get her through this. I'm proud that she works and goes to college full-time.
My sister says I should stay because if I leave, my kids may resent me. It's a hard decision for me, because I want my independence and my own life. I have been a caretaker for as long as I can remember. I want to be MY caretaker now — solo.
Am I wrong to want this? Should I stick around another three years until my daughter is finished with college? Am I selfish to want my own life? — WANTS MY OWN LIFE
DEAR WANTS: You wrote that you and your daughter are both financially stable at this point. Does she need you to be her resident baby sitter?
At 55, if you want your freedom, and it wouldn't cause a financial burden on your daughter, you should have the freedom to live the life you want. If, after the move, you would like to contribute child care on an as-needed basis, it would be a loving thing to do. But to maintain the status quo out of fear that you will be resented if you leave strikes me as a poor reason for staying.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.