I had plans for today. I really wasn’t going to turn on the computer until I got back from errands and had made my phone calls and vacuumed. Dr. Joyce Brothers’ column today put the kibosh on that. The paper is still open to the page, where a writer asks:
DEAR DR. BROTHERS: No one will believe me, but my mom, who’s 55, has just informed my husband and me that she wants to go back to her college where she never got her degree and finish. She’s already thinking about what courses she wants to take. Honestly, we were counting on a lot of help from her with our two kids, her grandchildren, in terms of putting away for their education. My husband’s a musician and doesn’t make great money. This may sound selfish, but at her age, this really seems silly and a kind of indulgence. I’m even surprised her college let her in. I know they’re not doing it for nothing. It costs money. Should I talk with her, let her know my views as her only child? — K.B.
O. M. F. G. . . “This may sound selfish,” K.B. says. May? Ya think, K.B.? Let’s see. Try figuring out how you’d say it to mom yourself and take a guess. . .
“Mom, at 55, you’re really too old to do anything productive with your life, so clearly the college is just taking you for a ride. They know you’re one foot in the grave already, so they’re only trying to fleece you for money. And speaking of fleecing you for your money, don’t you think you should be giving it to a worthier cause, like your grandkids? You see, my husband chose a profession that doesn’t make a lot, and rather than working with that, we decided to have a couple of kids and count on you to support them. Since we’ve made that decision, it’s just not right for you not to come through for us. I know that when you had me, you expected that eventually I’d grow up and take care of myself and make mature, adult decisions in my life. You should have known that I, as an only child, would expect to be your emotional and financial priority for life, though. Now that I’ve left home, gotten married, and had kids, I’m surprised that you have taken that as an opportunity to do the things you put off in your own life while you were raising me. Certainly, the more logical decision would have been to continue in that mode, just adding my husband and kids to your list of dependents. You’re certainly worth much more to me that way than as a happy, self-actualized human being, so just get over yourself and fork over the cash.”
This is why Dr. Brothers is an advice columnist and I am not.
I say, “K.B.’s mom, you’re a still young, vibrant individual, and you deserve to give yourself the benefit of and intellectually stimulating college experience. Go for it. Whatever might have happened in her young life to make your daughter so self-absorbed can still be corrected by you letting her live with and learn from her own decisions from now on. You go, girl. Those grandkids will appreciate a grandma who genuinely enjoys her time with them and can keep them interested because she knows so many cool things far more than a grandma who sends regular checks from her permanent home in front of the TV. Think tough love, lady, and don’t question your decisions based on how other people feel about them. Time to cut the baby loose and fly on your own!”