DEAR AMY: My mother and I have lived halfway across the country from one another for over 20 years. I enjoy spending time with her when she visits and want to share my family with her, but struggle with including her boyfriend of 14 years (“Jim”), who often accompanies her on these visits. Jim is a well-intentioned man who wants to be a part of my children’s lives, but he can also be moody and irritable, which almost always causes a certain level of ongoing tension. He is also almost completely deaf, so talking with him demands yelling, which further changes the dynamics, not to mention my ability to take my mother to restaurants, shows, movies, etc., without feeling like I’m leaving him out. This last visit they stayed with us for 11 days and it was very challenging for me. I was feeling anxious for the entire month prior to their visit, and feel like I’m still recovering. I’m happy to share a few days with Jim, but feel weary of him after that and find myself getting angry with my mother for bringing him on all of her visits. I’ve communicated that I want more time with just her, but the message doesn’t seem to stick. When I visit her, it’s easier as she does not live with Jim and we can have more space, but the price of air tickets for a family of four is prohibitive, so we rely more on her visits here. I need to figure out how to spend time with my mother, and enjoy doing so. At the moment, I’m living in dread of how to handle her next visit.
DEAR DAUGHTER: You’re going to have to be honest — completely honest — with your mother. Tell her you are fond of Jim and enjoy seeing him, but that the stress for a long visit is simply too much. I’m assuming she does not want to exclude Jim from these trips, so one solution might be for him to come with her but return by himself after a few days, while your mother stays on for some extra solo time.
DEAR AMY: The other night I was at a bar having a couple of drinks with a friend. I ordered two beers and tipped $1. The bartender shot back a dirty look as he took the dollar. I normally tip $1 per drink if they have to make it (like a cocktail). But I feel like a $2 tip for two beers is too much for how easy it is to dispense a beer into a glass or pour a shot. Am I wrong? What is the proper amount to tip a bartender? Should it be 15 to 20 percent like a server, or based on the drink ordered?
DEAR CONFUSED: Various sources I’ve consulted (including Spike, my local barkeep) say that generally $1 per poured drink is considered standard. For mixed cocktails, $2 or $3 should keep the bartender happy. At more upscale places, and if the bar tab is considerable, 20 percent of the total is considered acceptably generous.
However, tipping is done at the customer’s discretion, and no professional should ever shoot a customer a dirty look. That’s just bad business.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the letter from “Woman Who Wants It All” regarding the timing of having a baby. My advice is that she must be prepared for how it will affect her career. You can “lean in” as much as you want — but unless you own the company or have the resources for 24-hour nanny care, you will be treated differently from the guy in the next cubicle who also has children at home. I hope she has the bandwidth to maintain family, career and continue to stand up for equal rights. I am an engineer. In the 1980s we saw technical programs opening up to women as a result of affirmative action. Unfortunately, things have gone in the other direction — with fewer women making successful careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) related fields. I was in a meeting recently with some of the top men (including the head of engineering) at our company. The conference room was full. During my presentation I looked around the room and thought, “I have been working for 20-plus years and I am still the only woman in the room.” I was also the lowest-ranking person in the room. Just some realistic food for thought.
Woman in STEM
DEAR STEM: Preach, sister.