DEAR ABBY: I am a 39-year-old married man. "Lana" and I have been married 10 years. We deal with the usual problems (our son, jobs, money) as a team. I feel blessed to have married my best friend.
My job requires traveling. While seeing new things and meeting new people interest me, when I'm away from Lana and our young son, I suffer from extreme separation anxiety.
Abby, it's not a trust issue. I trust Lana completely, and I know she is taking excellent care of our son. My problem is I miss them terribly. I cry every night that I'm away. When I call home, I break down. Lana understands this is how I am and doesn't judge me. She's always supportive.
Am I crazy? Is this normal? Other guys I know who travel appear to enjoy it. But if I look at a photo of Lana or our son while I'm away, I end up in tears. I don't want to be this way, but it has reached the point where I can't see myself traveling anymore for business. -- BAWLING AT THE AIRPORT
DEAR BAWLING: Your level of sadness and stress at being away from your wife and son is off the charts. This is something you should discuss with a licensed mental health professional because I am sure there is a reason for your feeling the way you do. With help you will find out what it is and learn to cope. Please start now so you can decide rationally whether or not it's time for a new career -- with all the sacrifice that it could entail.
DEAR ABBY: I am the proud mother of four beautiful daughters, ages 9, 16 months and a set of 4-month-old twins. They are lovely, well-behaved children. My problem is that strangers feel compelled to make comments, especially about the younger ones. They say things like, "Whoa! That's a lot of work! I'm glad I'm not you!" or, "You sure don't waste any time!" -- and my favorite, "Are you going to keep trying for a boy?"
How rude! They even say to my 9-year-old, "You must have a lot of work to do at home, helping your mom with all those babies." She hears it almost daily.
My child does not raise my babies, and no, I'm not trying for a boy! I hear these comments every time I step out the door with my kids. It's starting to get to me. What should I say to these people without being as rude as they are? -- NO DRAMA MAMA IN SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
DEAR NO DRAMA MAMA: Look them straight in the eye and say, "My children are my joy -- and no, I'm not trying for a boy." And when your daughter is asked if she's being exploited as child labor, she should reply, "No, I have too many other things I enjoy doing." It's sad that some people have so little sensitivity -- or common sense -- and forget that they cannot always say the first thing that pops into their heads.
DEAR ABBY: My family and I recently went to a hibachi restaurant for dinner. The chef was great and the food was OK. We enjoyed ourselves.
When the customers next to us left the table after their meal, the chef looked confused -- as if he were expecting a separate tip from the server's. I have never tipped a chef separately. Is that wrong? -- SHELLI IN BROOKLYN
DEAR SHELLI: If the chef was cooking your meal to order, then he (or she) should have received a gratuity separate and apart from your server. It is never "wrong" to tip someone who gives you good service -- at least not here in the United States.
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