KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox She knows she cannot change her mother

Dear Annie: I am married to "Bob," a wonderful man, and we have an incredible 3-year-old son. The only problems we ever have are about family.
My mother and I never have been close. The community we live in believes she is an angel of mercy, since she donates her time and money to various charitable causes. Yet she ignores her own grandchild and treats Bob and me as if we were strangers. It's been worse since my father passed away four years ago.
Annie, I know I cannot change my mother, but I'm not sure how to deal with her. Should I ignore the fact that she behaves this way? Should I continue to bring our son to family gatherings, even if it leads to squabbles with family members? I want to do what is best for my son. Please advise. Hilda in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Dear Hilda: You're smart to realize you cannot change your mother, but that doesn't mean your son should be kept away. Continue to visit, but remember that the best way to avoid family squabbles is to disengage from the argument. Don't allow yourself to be sucked into a fight you cannot win. Smile and change the subject. It is fruitless to expect your mother to respond more affectionately toward you or your child. Accept her as she is, keep those visits short, and maintain your equilibrium. Your son will take his cues from you.
Dear Annie: My dear friend "Ginny" was recently married for the second time. Upon learning of her engagement, I offered to make the wedding dress as my gift to her. I also made a dress for the groom's mother, for which I was well-paid.
While Ginny and I were shopping for dress material, she bought a pattern and material for her daughter's gown, too. I neglected to mention any charge for sewing the second dress. I tried to bring up the subject in the following months, but was interrupted by others and felt this was a private matter between Ginny and me.
On the day of the wedding, I delivered the dresses and helped set up tables and chairs for the ceremony. I saw Ginny pay the florist, photographer and disc jockey, but not me. I was quite hurt. My husband says I should have asked for payment when she had her checkbook out, but I thought that would be tacky.
I have receipts for some small items I needed to finish the dress, and Ginny already promised to reimburse me for those. When I mail her the receipts, should I include an invoice for her daughter's dress? Or, do I chalk it up to a lesson learned? I don't want to lose a friendship over this. Southern Seamstress
Dear Seamstress: No good deed goes unpunished. If you value the friendship, don't spring a surprise on Ginny by mailing an unexpected bill. She should have offered to pay for her daughter's dress, but you had many opportunities to speak up and didn't. Pick up the phone and say: "Ginny, dear, when I mail the receipts for the additional beading, should I also send the invoice for your daughter's dress?" Her response will tell you if you'd be better off considering this an expensive lesson.
Dear Annie: I'm a 50-year-old man, and I've been wearing pantyhose for some time. I'm straight, with two children, and my wife does not mind. I love the way the stockings feel after a long day at work. My legs are more relaxed and less tired. I want to know if there are a lot of men who wear pantyhose and if anybody makes men's pantyhose. Seymour, Ind.
Dear Seymour: Yes, there are men who wear pantyhose, but they usually are cross-dressers. Most women feel more relaxed when they take their pantyhose off. Whatever your preference, the Internet is loaded with sites that sell pantyhose for men. If you don't have access to the Internet at home, try your local library.
XE-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@com-cast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.
Creators Syndicate

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