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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 50-year-old mom with three grown daughters. I gave up my whole life to be a stay-at-home parent. I was a room mother at school and a bus driver, and did everything I could to be the best mom my kids could have. Now they are grown with children of their own. I help with the grandkids, but I never feel appreciated.

I tried to do everything the opposite of how my parents raised me. My mother was absent, and my dad was a drunk who abused us. I'm beginning to wonder -- have all the sacrifices I made mattered? Or have I wasted my life trying to be a good mom and no one cares? -- SUPERMOM IN WELSH, LA.

DEAR SUPERMOM: You were a diligent parent when your daughters were growing up, and you have continued generously giving of your time with your grandchildren. But it seems you forgot completely about yourself during those years.

Rather than looking for "appreciation" from your daughters, don't you think it's time you started devoting some time to yourself and your own interests? I do. Take some time for yourself. You have earned it. And, perhaps, if you're less available, you will be more appreciated.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the columns you printed with letters from readers describing what they think is wrong with American society, I think it's time to talk about what is RIGHT in our society. I, for one, would like to mention the endless compassion we are capable of giving, and how, in times of some of our greatest tragedies, we have come together in spite of our differences to support and help one another.

Yes, there are many negatives that can easily be listed about problems in our society, but wouldn't the greater challenge -- and a more productive one -- be to list the positives about it? -- REBECCA IN NEW YORK

DEAR REBECCA: I received a great deal of feedback regarding not only the question I posed to readers -- "What is society's greatest problem?" -- but also some of the thought-provoking responses that appeared in my column (Feb. 5 and 6). While many people told me they enjoyed the intellectual exercise, others felt that those columns were uncharacteristically negative. (My feeling is that finding solutions to problems entails first identifying them.)

However, your point is well taken. So, readers, pick up your pens or head for your keyboards, and share with me -- and each other -- your thoughts on what is right in our society.

DEAR ABBY: I recently won a local vocabulary contest. In school, I am called "the walking dictionary." People often approach me to find out the meaning of words.

Since winning the contest, I have become more popular, and my boyfriend has been trying to use big words when he talks to me or to our friends. The problem is, he uses them incorrectly or mispronounces them. I know he's trying to impress me, but it's embarrassing. How can I tell him to stop without hurting his feelings? -- THE WALKING DICTIONARY IN GEORGIA

DEAR WALKING DICTIONARY: People sometimes mispronounce words because they learned them by reading them rather than hearing them used. Give your boyfriend points for being intellectually acquisitive.

The next time he uses a word incorrectly or mispronounces it, offer a gentle correction -- but be sure to do it in private. That way, he won't be embarrassed.

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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