Many of my friends are nonworking mothers. Is it petty of me to be irritated when they make lunch dates and ask either where I’m likely to be that day (I’m in my office, which has a fixed address) or if I can meet them in their part of town? I understand that they have commitments too, but I am the one with a set schedule and prescribed lunch hour.
— Out-to-lunch friends
Though I personally believe pettiness, like grudge-holding, to be a highly underappreciated art and a perfectly legitimate one in many instances, the word inconsiderate comes more to mind. Working mothers need all of the slack they can get. The bottom line is that they work a double shift, whether they’re the ones making dinner and tending the laundry or not. Children, by definition, are not aware of their mothers’ responsibilities; ditto some husbands. But a fellow mother, or even a female friend, cannot be excused for failing to appreciate the delicate high-wire act. Call it whatever you wish. It’s not a competition. But your nonworking friends should be meeting you in the lobby café.
* * *
I suffer from terrible headaches and have for many years. I have found no relief in traditional medicine and was considering consulting a Chinese healer who believes in the laying on of hands. My husband thinks I’m turning into a fruitcake and has been so disparaging about my plan that I have not pursued it. What are your thoughts?
— Ready for remedy
I think that if your husband suffered from debilitating migraines, he would stop at nothing to get relief from the pain — including a live sacrifice. Compared with this, acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy, crystals and herbs seem like reasonable approaches. I am of the mind that in a situation like this, you throw everything up against the wall and assume, hope, pray and convince yourself that something will stick. There’s a reason why these treatments have been around for centuries. Remember that it took until the 20th century for chicken soup to establish its scientific credentials. It established its curative ones centuries earlier.
* * *
My sister lies to me with some frequency. This has become increasingly clear now that her children are old enough to speak. When I ask her if I can stop by for a visit, she tells me she already has plans. Later, when I speak to my nephews, they tell me they spent the day at home watching movies. I am insulted and frustrated when my sister does this, and I would like her to know that I’m on to her.
— Sick of sister act
Do you believe your sister’s lies to be global in nature or limited to explanations for why she cannot make plans with you? If she has a long-standing history of lying, then you and I both are in over our heads; your sister needs professional help. If not, perhaps the problem lies with you, and your sister is simply guilty of trying to spare your feelings. I don’t know the history between you. What I do know is that the one example you cite could be construed as a “white lie” to stop you from dropping by. Your relationship with your sister would benefit from an evenhanded heart-to-heart rather than a full-blown confrontation. Accusing anyone of lying is never a good conversation-opener. Adding depositions from the under-12 set is equally ill-advised. Kid gloves, and an open heart, are what this one calls for.
Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.