DEAR ABBY: I am suffering from a depression I think many mothers experience when they become empty nesters. Although my husband is supportive, I miss my 18-year-old so much that sometimes I’m tempted to drive to his college in Florida. My husband and I have always wanted to live in a warmer climate, but he doesn’t like the humidity in Florida. We had planned to move to Arizona once my son went away to college, but now I’m having second thoughts because the drive to Arizona from Orlando is twice the distance, and I don’t think I can take his being that far away.
I have good job offers in Arizona, and family there as well, so I know it would be a healthier place for me to be. I just cannot reconcile with the fact that my son will be so far away. He will be in college in Orlando for the next five years, as he is in a master’s degree engineering program. Am I being overprotective? He’s my only son. I have real anxieties about this and have been seeing a counselor as well as my doctor, who prescribed a mild antidepressant. Is this normal? Should I stay put? Should I move? — INDECISIVE IN ILLINOIS
DEAR INDECISIVE: While some degree of empty-nest syndrome is normal, what you are experiencing is not. Keep the conversation open with your husband about relocating to Arizona. Your son needs a chance to become independent as much as you need the time to allow it to happen.
You say your husband can’t tolerate the Florida humidity. Is it your intention to impose it on him for the next five years? It would create unnecessary stress on your marriage. Further, what will happen after your son earns his degrees and is offered a job elsewhere? Do you plan to move again to be close to him?
Continue your counseling and meds. And while you’re at it, find a volunteer project so you won’t have time to sit and brood. With time, your anxiety will subside, and you will become less emotionally dependent upon your son — which will be healthier for both of you.
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DEAR ABBY: I have read many of your columns and enjoyed them. These days though, you seem to hear from more and more people who are afraid of saying what needs to be said. I suspect it can be chalked up to the “be politically correct” nature of our country lately. But why is it that when people do speak their minds, others consider them rude? I let people know when they are disrespectful to me in public, and I don’t put up with being put down. Am I wrong in feeling that people who say mean things need to be immediately corrected? Or am I really being rude? — FARMGIRL IN MISSOURI
DEAR FARMGIRL: You are not wrong, and it is not rude if you choose to defend yourself. What you are being is assertive, which is a healthy personality trait. No one should have to accept as normal social interaction being made to feel “less than” in public. If someone has a bone to pick with you — and vice versa — it should be done in private.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.