Searching for the way
Dear Annie: I am a 63-year-old retired librarian. I divorced when my children were very young (4 and 6) and never remarried. I attempted a bit of dating, but for a variety of reasons, things never worked out.
My daughter, now 29, has recently completely alienated me because I can’t find my “own way.” Our often-prickly relationship took a turn for the worse when we both decided to relocate to Colorado in the upcoming year. I have lived in Colorado and New Mexico several times but have always come back (reluctantly) to the East Coast to address crises with both my daughter and my son (addictions, boyfriend problems, college graduations, etc.). In addition, my aging parents in Michigan have needed help in recent years.
I’ll admit I seem to be living out of my car, as I have given up several residences to travel to where I’ve been needed. I am not happy about this situation and am trying to extricate myself from all of my family’s messes. But why is my daughter so furious with me? She has her own life and is engaged to be married. I firmly intend to have a house and pets and a so-called life, but I am not a wealthy woman and cannot just snap my fingers and manufacture a lovely house with a white picket fence.
She won’t even speak to me! It’s hurtful, and she is selfish. Her tunnel vision is so bad that she can’t see that I am dissatisfied and not joyous about my present state. Both of my children seem to think I chose this solitary life. Believe me, if I could again snap my fingers, I would choose a far different life. What in the heck should I say or do? Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide. — Befuddled
Dear Befuddled: If you’ve ever been on an airplane, then you’ve heard a flight attendant announce that in the event that oxygen masks drop down, secure your own mask before assisting the person next to you, even if that person is your child. It’s a tried-and-true metaphor for the importance of self-care. For now, forget (as best you can) the problems with your daughter. Focus on getting your own life in order.
Put roots down where you feel you could flourish in your golden years. If you like Colorado, stay there. If you’d rather be closer to your parents, move to Michigan. After decades of hard work, you shouldn’t have to live out of your car. Perhaps you could find part-time work as a librarian. (There are several job search websites tailored specifically to the needs of retired people looking for part-time work. Try Retired Brains or Maturity Works.) I have a feeling that your relationship with your daughter will improve once you improve your relationship with yourself.
(Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at www.creators.com.)