DEAR ABBY: I am a stay-at-home mom to three wonderful little girls. I appreciate my husband working so I can do this, but I'm very lonely. I have no real friends.
I help my mom with all her medical needs, making appointments and getting her to them. I also help my brother with his three kids. I help everyone with everything.
In addition to running my home and taking care of our three children, I do everything for my husband. All he has to do when he comes home from work is eat and take a shower.
I haven't been anywhere by myself in a very long time. We haven't had a date night, either. Finding a baby sitter isn't easy. Mom can't watch the kids, and my grandparents do it only when I need to take her to the doctor's without the baby. I take the baby everywhere with me.
Please give me some advice on making time for myself and my marriage. I just need someone to be on my side. -- LONELIEST MOM IN ILLINOIS
DEAR MOM: I'm on your side. You have been so helpful to everyone else that you have forgotten how to take care of yourself. Tell your husband what you need -- a date night with him every two weeks and a day or two to take care of yourself each month. It will do wonders for your spirits. When you do, ask your brother to watch your children for you. If he refuses, hiring someone to baby-sit would be money well spent.
The problem with being a martyr is that people die doing it, so recognize it's time to stand up for yourself. If you don't, by now you should understand that nobody will do it for you.
DEAR ABBY: My father was married before he met my mother and had five wonderful children during his previous marriage. When my half-brother got married two years ago, he invited our father, my mother and me to his wedding. My parents declined because they didn't want to see my father's ex-wife (my half-brother's mother). I went because, quite frankly, I have no dog in that fight.
I recently got word that my half-sister is getting married in June and plans on inviting our father and my mother as well. Due to their absence at my half-brother's wedding, my parents have decided they shouldn't go to any of my half-siblings' weddings in order to be fair to everyone.
Although I'm upset that they're refusing to attend, I can't help but wonder what I should do when I get married. Because they're my parents and I love them, I'd like them to come. But I also want to be sensitive to my half-siblings' thoughts and feelings. I don't want them to feel as if their father and stepmother love me more than they love them. What should I do? -- TROUBLED IN KENTUCKY
DEAR TROUBLED: When the time comes, talk to your half-siblings about your concerns and the fact that your parents did not come to their weddings. Explain that they were absent because they were uncomfortable about encountering their mother. I'm sure it won't surprise them. Tell them you would love to have them with you on that special day. But if they refuse out of loyalty to their mother, do not be surprised or regard it as a personal rejection.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)