DEAR ABBY: I never had a desire to have kids. I married a man, "Harry," who had four, and did my duty being with them on holidays, birthdays and vacations. I never enjoyed it, and I have always been honest regarding my feelings about baby-sitting.
Now that Harry's children are grown and have children of their own, they think my husband and I should give up our weekends and holidays to baby-sit their children. Harry and I have had several serious arguments about this.
I have told his kids I do not want to watch their children. Harry will tell me at the last minute that one of them is being dropped off because the father and his girlfriend are going out. When the grandchild arrives, Harry disappears because he doesn't want to be bothered.
I served my time when my stepchildren were small and have looked forward to the day I'd no longer have to share my down time with kids.
Three months ago I was "surprised" with the 7-year-old so her dad and his honey could go to Atlantic City for a great time. I told them I had a political function to attend at 1:30 the next day; they didn't return until 3:30 in the afternoon. My husband thought it was fine to go without me! I would never have done that.
I love Harry, but this is causing me major grief. Please tell me what you think about this. Oh -- and did I mention they think because I was an elementary school teacher I should want to sit and play with their kids? It's comparing apples to oranges. -- NEARING WITS' END IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR NEARING WITS' END: What I think is that you are being taken advantage of, and it will continue as long as you allow it, however unwillingly. The next time Harry informs you at the last minute that a grandchild is being dropped off, grab your coat and purse and tell him you are going shopping, visiting a friend, seeing a movie or anything else that will get you out of the house. If you do, perhaps the next time his kids need a baby sitter he will suggest that they hire one.
Oh, and did I mention that when you were a teacher, you were compensated for your labor? You are being used, and I hope you draw the line before you really arrive at wits' end.