I’m torn between my family and the small town I love


Dear Amy: I am 76 years old. My husband died eight years ago. Four years later, I moved to be near my son and my grandchildren.

I left a small town where I lived for 58 years, a church I loved and many friends.

I pick up my youngest grandchild from school every day. We do a lot of things together, but he’s almost 12 and becoming more and more independent.

I am active in my church here and have a few friends, but I still miss my hometown. I taught there for 34 years, then I took care of my parents and my husband.

I’ve babysat my grandchildren for years, babysitting them after school, on weekends, and taking them on extended vacations.

I want to go back to my hometown, but I’m afraid I’ll feel guilty for leaving my grandson.

I feel like time is running out and I want to have time to do what I want to do while I still can.

Do you think I should stay here for my grandson, or should I return to my beloved hometown?

Am I selfish?

Guilty

Dear culprit: I think you should do something for yourself. You could start by taking a long trip to your hometown, perhaps staying in a rental or with a friend.

Talk with your family. I hope they will encourage you to freely make the choice that suits you best. After decades of taking care of others, it’s time to take good care of yourself.

Dear Amy: Throughout our childhood, my mother constantly used my own accomplishments to push my brother to be better.

I was two years younger, a year ahead in school, bolder and more fearless than him in every way.

Mom made a competition between us to help her overcome her fears. She fed him until his death.

My brother and I are now in our 40s. We are both successful, but have made very different choices.

I turned down lucrative opportunities to prioritize my children over work.

He and his wife did the opposite. They both put their careers first and neglected their child. I ended up caring for my nephew a lot over the years to make up for it.

These days, my brother takes every opportunity to brag to me about his success. He tells me how much money he makes, how much his wife makes, how much money they have in the bank, etc.

I try to be a better person and ignore it, but it’s exhausting.

He never asks me questions about my life and what matters to me.

I wouldn’t trade my life and the strong bond I have with my children and their son for all the money he has, but how can I change the dynamic?

I know he’s only bragging to me and not our other brother.

At this point, I’m considering cutting it out completely.

Am I overreacting? Why does it bother me so much?

annoyed little sister

Dear pissed off: Imagine how you would feel if you were told that you are never “enough”. It’s the script your mother wrote for your brother.

He’s trying to flip that script and establish that he’s finally won your contest of a lifetime. I suggest that you – the most daring and sure – be brave enough to let him get away with it.

Basically, I’m suggesting that you try to let it all out by gently letting go.

You might start with, “You talk a lot about your wealth when you’re with me. Why is that?”

You might try saying, “I know mom always puts us in competition. I can only imagine what it was like for you. But I think she would be really proud of your success. I hope you no longer feel like you have something to prove.

Only do this if you really want to try and change the dynamic.

Dear Amy: I recognized myself in the letter from “Nice Guys Finish Last”, who is a sweet owner.

After 25 years as a landlord, I finally hired a property manager, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. It was worth not having to deal with the problems that arose. And they were the “bad guys”!

Old Softy

Dear Softy: It is useful to remember that this is essentially a business relationship, on both sides.

You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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