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DEAR ABBY: I need your help with something. My 16-year-old grandson seems to think that all his mother does is stay at home. He conveniently "forgets" that she is a housekeeper, gardener, cook, teacher, nurse, driver and mediator. Could you please print a breakdown of what a stay-at-home wife should be paid? I would love to have a list so I can pass the "bill" on to him. -- VIVIAN IN COLONIAL BEACH, VA.

DEAR VIVIAN: According to the Census Bureau figures for 2004 -- which are the most recent -- there are 36.7 million mothers of minor children in the United States. About one-third of them, 10.8 million, are stay-at-home moms.

According to an article penned by Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, in its May 11, 2006, edition, " compensation experts estimate that stay-at-home moms work an average of 91.6 hours a week." That's more than double the number of hours the average office worker puts in. He went on to say, "That should be worth $134,121 annually."

He quoted the compensation analysts as figuring the lowest-paying parts of a mother's job are "housekeeper, laundry machine operator and janitor. Higher-paying categories include computer operator, facilities manager, psychologist and CEO." With a 91.6-hour work week, 52 weeks a year, it works out to be $28.16 an hour.

It should go without saying that a mother's love is priceless, so tell that grandson of yours that $28.16 an hour is a real bargain.

DEAR ABBY: I am going through a divorce. It's not that I did not love my almost-ex, but that he was never someone I could depend on emotionally or financially. I'm writing to you because I have become very interested in someone who is dependable and caring, and over the past year I have found we have a lot in common. He is my kids' doctor.

I haven't dated anyone except my husband since I was 18, let alone talked to a guy. So I sent him a letter at his office, and am now having regrets that I did because of the fear of rejection. I must face him again in three weeks. The letter was written with only my e-mail address. I just don't know what to do! I really like this man, and I'm scared to death he'll be upset that I sent the letter. Please help. -- MOMMY IN INDIANA

DEAR MOMMY: The doctor won't be "upset." He will probably be complimented. He may, however, already be married, involved with someone, or gay -- so if your ardor isn't reciprocated, please do not feel personally rejected.

DEAR ABBY: Yesterday, a friend stayed over at my house. When it was time for her to leave, I went to put something in her bag and found a ton of MY stuff in there!

She made up a lame excuse that "someone else" must have put it in her bag. I knew she was lying, and I told her whoever put it there had better speak up and I wouldn't be mad if they confessed -- but she still denied it.

How do I confront her and still keep our friendship? -- CONFUSED IN GREAT FALLS, MONT.

DEAR CONFUSED: You have already "confronted" her, and it only led to more lies. Now it's time to recognize that the girl you thought was your friend is a person who may have some severe emotional problems. Under the circumstances, it's time to re-evaluate your relationship, because I'm not sure you should consider her a friend any longer.

P.S. And always keep a watchful eye on your "stuff" when she's in the vicinity!

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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