Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I am 23 and married with two wonderful children. I had my first child at 20 and the other at 22. Being a mom is super awesome and all that but I'm starting to get overly stressed. My husband is 23 also. He doesn't feel like he has to share the responsibility of caring for the children. He works every night and comes home around 8 a.m. I am a stay-at-home mom (so I feel like I work 24/7). I do almost everything by myself and he complains if I ask him for help. Am I expecting too much? Should it be OK for me to do everything regarding the children by myself? I know that moms have been doing this forever but it just gets harder every day, to the point where I break down in the bathroom (pretending to use it). Am I wrong to expect his help? Should I just get over it?

Stressed Out of My Mind

DEAR STRESSED: Your husband is working a night shift in order to support his family. This is "help" of the first order. Without his efforts, your lifestyle would not be possible.

All the same, with two very young children, you more than have your hands full and you need some relief.

You should develop some routines that include your husband -- not necessarily as the "helper," but as the "father." Choose a period in the late afternoon or early evening (schedule this around his most wide-awake time) where you leave the house and the kids stay with him. You could schedule an exercise class, power-walk with a friend, or simply (as I used to do) sit in your car and read a magazine. The point is that it is a limited amount of time and the kids stay with him and you actually leave the house. If he grumbles, simply tell him, "I'll be back at 6:30. You can handle it. You'll be great." Come home promptly. Don't correct his parenting or complain about how he diapers the baby. You are giving your husband a chance to connect with the children and develop his own routines with them, and -- equally as important -- you will be giving yourself time to recharge.

If a friend or family member can watch the children occasionally, you two should de-stress together.

DEAR AMY: After years of a challenging friendship with "Stella," marked by bouts of drama, imagined slights and uneasy compromises, I finally chose to close the book on it three years ago. Stella had already decided to stop speaking to me because I took offense to an unpleasant personal situation she set in motion. Not being in touch has been such a relief. It also helps that we live on opposite sides of the country, and our many mutual friends don't get involved. In a few months we will both be attending our high school reunion, an event that I have always enjoyed. Our reunions are quite convivial affairs, and I am trying to figure out a civil way to deal with a possible confrontational encounter. She's practiced at playing the victim. Should it happen, how do I politely and kindly head off any kind of blame game exchange? I'd like to make it clear that I have no desire to rehash the past, and that I have moved on. We're all there to have a good time.

No Desire to Rekindle

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DEAR NO DESIRE: If at this party you are forced to interact with "Stella," be polite and calm. If she brings some drama to the interaction, repeat your refrain: "We're all here to have a good time," and then excuse yourself and talk to someone else.

DEAR AMY: "Heartbroken" reported that as parents of the groom, they were distressed to see their names were not listed on the wedding invitation. I felt their pain. Every wedding invitation should list both sets of parents!


DEAR DISGUSTED: Formal, traditional wedding invitations come from the bride's parents, because they are considered the hosts of the wedding. There is no one way to do this and I agree that being inclusive is best.