DEAR AMY: We have an ongoing problem occurring in our family. I have one daughter-in-law who is chronically late for everything. If we are supposed to be somewhere at 2 p.m., that is when she starts getting ready. Her mother is also always late, so I know it is a learned problem. My son has discussed this with her, but nothing has changed. Without being an interfering mother-in-law, I would like to address this with love. Do you have any helpful suggestions for me?
DEAR PROMPT: In my (very prompt) family, we dealt with one chronically late member by simply starting things on time, and tolerating the late family member, who basically seemed to run on a different time zone. When this family member hosted events, we turned up when she asked us to.
I believe that tolerating this while not letting it interfere too much with your own plans (and happiness) is the way to respond to this — with love. So is simply telling the truth: “Dear, you always seem to be running late. This can be hard on the rest of us. Will you try harder to be prompt for family events?”
Always take separate transportation, and accept that, in this regard, she is unreliable.
I find chronic lateness disrespectful, but I also realize that it doesn’t seem to be personally directed.
I’m sure readers will weigh in with ideas for how to re-train someone who is always late.
DEAR AMY: What do you think about a “meal train” that asks for meal delivery to someone who recently underwent a surgery (or had a baby)? The “someone” in this case is a woman whose child goes to the same afterschool activity as my son. I sometimes chatted with her but do not know her well. Her friend set up a meal train for her family during the two weeks she is recovering from surgery. The signup sheet is circulated in our afterschool activity group. Each meal is supposed to cover all four family members. She has a husband and two teenage children, and they are well-off. We live in a big city where one can easily get takeout food and food delivery, so it would not be difficult for them to order their favorite food from favorite places. I can understand if this woman indicates what she likes to eat/snack on, and friends/social groups bring a box of something for her to consume during her recovery. But a whole meal for a family of four is way too much to ask in terms of the time and work involved. I have to admit that cooking is not my favorite activity, but I don’t want to simply ignore the signup sheet. What’s your take on this?
Lost in the Kitchen
DEAR LOST: When a person is indisposed, grieving, ill or has just had a baby, others often ask, “How can I help?” Cooking and delivering dinner for a family is one great way to help. Even if the family has the means and wherewithal to have food delivered, cooking and delivering a dinner from your own kitchen is a kindness.
If you want to contribute in some way without cooking, you might send a basket of teas or coffees, and a package of sweets to go with them. However, you should not feel pressured to do this. You don’t have to board this particular “train,” but you shouldn’t feel put-upon by others’ efforts.
DEAR AMY: A woman signing her question “Widowed” asked how long she should continue to wear her wedding band — or if she should move it to her right hand — after recently losing her husband of 41 years. Your answer, telling her to take her time (because removing the ring after 41 years might make her feel lost) was perfect. After my partner died and was cremated last December, the hospital gave me his wedding band and a leather bracelet he had worn. I put those in a little dish alongside his ashes in an urn in my bedroom. I continued to wear my ring, and after about seven months, I looked at his ring by itself in that dish and thought it looked lonely. I took off my band that day and placed it alongside his. Now when I pass by the urn and see our rings together, it gives me a measure of comfort. She will know when it feels right.
DEAR BEEN THERE: Yours is a sweet tribute to lasting love. My condolences.