DEAR ABBY: I am a 62-year-old lady who has been a dedicated mother, helpful grandma and a good wife. I don't mean to imply that I'm perfect, but my heart has always been in the right place.
I'm writing now because I have a problem. I have been so used to being a mother that now I don't know how to break the habit. My children think I do too much for them, and it hurts me when they call me "annoying" and "impossible to deal with."
I wish I could act differently, but I don't know how. I've been told I need to do something with my life other than help my kids when they don't seem to need it -- and even when they do. I know I deserve to be happy, but I don't know how to start. Can you tell me what to do, Abby? -- MELANCHOLY MAMA, WENATCHEE, WASH.
DEAR MELANCHOLY: You are a successful wife and mother, having raised independent children. Now it's your turn.
Think back to before you were married and had children -- what were your interests? Was there a class or subject you wanted to take at a community college? Did you want to act in a play, paint a picture, photograph a landscape, read Shakespeare, join a hiking club, travel the U.S., learn to dance? Learn to speak French, plant a garden, raise rabbits, write a novel or the story of your life, study architecture, learn more about the stock market, raise funds for your favorite charity, or (you fill in the blank)?
If you still can't get the urge to "mother" out of your system, consider becoming a foster parent -- or volunteer at a school, children's hospital or as a literacy tutor at your local library. The possibilities are endless and the need is great.
Please let me know what you decide to do from the hundreds of options available. You have a lot to offer.