Dear Annie: More than 65 years ago, my mother was a military wife, a German “war bride” and an orphan from the war. This means that I had no grandparents on my mother’s side of the family.
So, we always went to my father’s parents’ house on Christmas Day, but this led to some frustrations, so my mother put her foot down. She told her master sergeant spouse (my father) that she was no longer going to Grandmother’s house (his mother) on Christmas Day.
Her other son and his family lived there. Her kids were going to enjoy their toys in their own home on Christmas Day and visit later. She was tired of her kids seeing the cousins having fun all day with their toys and having to enjoy their Christmas toys later.
It worked out fine. She knew about boundaries before it became a psychological theme! — Setting Boundaries
Dear Setting Boundaries: Thank you for sharing the story of how your mother solved this problem for you and your siblings without offending your grandparents. She was ahead of her time in setting boundaries for grandparents. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com
What the flip did I just read?
Oh, right, that was someone writing half of Annie Lane’s column for her. This is what Annie Lane wrote:
Dear Setting Boundaries: Thank you for sharing the story of how your mother solved this problem for you and your siblings without offending your grandparents. She was ahead of her time in setting boundaries for grandparents.
And this is how it translates:
Dear Setting Boundaries: Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. It fills half my column and gets me off the hook for coming up with more compelling content. God bless you for it! Yeah, boundaries, or whatever, am I right? I think it sounds solid. It sounds good, right? Boundaries?
Huh. Also, I don’t think it matters what you call it: boundaries, or whatever, but the concept most certainly isn’t new. Human nature is evolving slowly, in my opinion, and is headed in a good direction; but I seriously doubt that this ever happened:
Cavewoman Pru: I hate it when my mother-in-law stops by without sending smoke signals first. What should I do, Gunt?
Cavewoman Gunt: Hmm… we need a word for keeping people away on our own terms. Uh…
Cavewoman Pru: But there’s no such word! Does that mean that we can’t do it, keep people away on our own terms?
Cavewoman Gunt: I guess so. Too bad, though. I guess we’ll have to wait for someone to name the concept. [Shrugs.]
Cavewoman Pru: Oh no, she’s coming right now! AAUGH! I haven’t even cooked the mastadon yet!
Cavewoman Gunt: Is the mastadon dead, or did Brah drag it home alive? You could feed your mother-in-law to it…
[Scene ending swiftly due to violent and unwholesome content.]
My point is that boundaries probably existed before they were called boundaries. Let’s see what other content is in Annie Lane’s column for today…
Dear Annie: Nearly 50 years ago, while a high school student, I met an upperclassman who completely swept me off my feet. We clicked with each other almost immediately and loved being together as much as possible. He was leaving for college the following year, and his mother made no secret of the fact that she wanted him to leave without having a girlfriend back home.
I was a year younger, so my future was not yet set. We wanted to stay together even though he would be two states away. We felt that we could make it work during breaks and summer vacations. However, by late summer, his mother had convinced him that breaking it off with me was the best course of action.
To say the very least, I was heartbroken and mourned the loss for 10 years.
Eventually, I met a nice man, settled down and had a family. I was happy but always felt the loss, and now, almost 50 years later and a widow, I still feel the same as I did back then. Of course, he is a married man now, and I would never pursue him.
I feel that seeing a counselor about this would be considered trivial since there are so many in the world suffering right now. — Still Missing My First Love
Dear Missing My First Love: You are looking back on your youth, when things were more simplistic and you had fewer responsibilities. The reality is that you feel what you feel, and your yearning is nothing to be trivialized. Perhaps you are missing your husband, and it is much easier to miss a person you knew for a short time and didn’t share a life with. It certainly can be a lot less painful.
Talking to a counselor could be just what you need to help sort out what you really long for and what you want in your life today. Your feelings are NOT trivial.
Well, that was lame. As soon as I saw this line:
I feel that seeing a counselor about this would be considered trivial since there are so many in the world suffering right now.
I knew right away that Annie Lane had an answer to give. No, your feelings aren’t trivial! They’re valid! Absolutely see a counselor if you wish!
Ugh. Validating people’s feelings is Advice Giving 101.
I’d give the letter writer less wishy-washy garbage about first love and more reality: if they were meant to be together, she did everything she could, whereas he obeyed the dictates of his mother. If, however, he’d fought against his mother and maintained the relationship, her entire adult life would’ve been like an eternal, bad episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Just sayin’. Sometimes we need to look at these things from a practical angle. No one suffers more than people who have meddling mothers-in-law. I’d say, given that he did nothing to hold onto her, and his mother was a meddler, that she dodged a bullet.
Nate, who’s aromantic, once pointed out to me that in the movie Titanic, Old Rose spends the whole movie narrating her relationship with Jack Dawson, which only lasted during the cruise. She wound up marrying someone else and having a whole life with him before he died of old age, I think. And yet she narrates her relationship with Jack Dawson, whom she knew however briefly, giving no credence to her late husband, with whom she shared a life.
I was stunned, because I’d never seen it that way before. But upon reflection, Old Rose was talking about her adventures aboard the Titanic, and she wasn’t talking about her later married life. We don’t need to assume that she wasn’t equally (if not moreso) close to her later-found husband, am I right? It’s just that that wasn’t the focus of the movie. (Personally, I’d love a sequel.)
And in yesterday’s column, Annie Lane ran several letters from people who had experience with different forms of illnesses. It was great content, but she didn’t have to write any of it. Oh well.