DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a freelance producer, and I have struggled a lot with finding enough work. This year has been different. I have had quite a few small jobs, and I am grateful for them. The problem is that it is hard to keep track of small projects when they overlap. I scheduled a short vacation this summer, but then I got a gig and had to do the prep work during my vacation. My boyfriend was mad because he took off work from his 9-to-5 and expected me to do the same. I wanted to, but I worry about turning down work when I remember so well that a year ago I had none. How do I manage this new reality? -- Freelancer Blues
DEAR FREELANCER BLUES: If you intend to remain a freelance producer, it is in your best interest to make it clear to your boyfriend how your schedule works. While it may be possible for you to take time off completely, it is not wrong for you to stay on-call during vacation when you are just coming out of a work drought. Talk to him about the realities of time management when you work for yourself and are beholden to a variety of clients. Make sure he is comfortable with your work style, and you with his. Otherwise, your relationship is destined for ongoing conflict.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My father has been dead for about 10 years. My mother was inconsolable for a long time, but recently she met a nice man who has been paying a lot of attention to her. They go out to dinner, and he comes over to visit. It seems really sweet to me. My siblings worry that he is trying to steal my mother’s money, but she really doesn’t have much money outside of my father’s Social Security check and pension. If she gets married, I’m pretty sure she loses all of that. So she knows she won’t be marrying for money. How can I convince the others that she is OK? -- Mom Is Dating
DEAR MOM IS DATING: Give your mother some breathing room to enjoy this man’s company. If you feel like you need to check in, start with her. Ask her what she thinks his intentions are and if she is worried at all about him wanting to take her money. Express your thoughts to her so that she can review them herself.
She should talk to this man about his intentions and his finances. It works only when both parties are open to the discussion. She should exercise a fair amount of discretion as she gets to know this man. But know that it is your mother’s prerogative to spend her money however she chooses. If she uses your father’s pension and social security to enjoy her life with this man or if she loses them upon marriage, so be it. If you or your siblings were counting on any of that money yourselves, you will have to make peace with the shift also.
Talk to your siblings and work with them to accept your mother as a mature adult who is making her own decisions. Of course, be there for her if you ever feel that she is being manipulated.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)