DEAR ABBY: For the last eight years I have been the mother of a star in our local high school. When one of my boys would graduate, the next would take over and be even more athletic or musically talented -- and in my youngest son's case, both.
Now that they are gone I can't stand hearing other parents talk about their children's accomplishments. I also can't stop myself from making some comment about how my sons were better. I know it's wrong, but I still do it.
Sporting events make me sad and my husband depressed. Is this empty nest? We can't seem to figure out how to move on. Have you any suggestions? More children are out of the question. -- SPOTLIGHTS DIMMED IN OHIO
DEAR S.D.: When people peer too long into a spotlight -- whether directly or the reflected glare of someone nearby -- it diminishes their vision for a period of time after the light is extinguished. What you may fail to see is that all parents are proud of their kids, and if you continue to compare other people's children unfavorably with your own, you will soon be as welcome as a polecat at a garden party.
This is why I urge you and your husband to take a little time, refocus your attention to children less fortunate than your own, and invest some of your energy in other youths who need the encouragement and support you can give. If you do, you will be rewarded many times over.
DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband -- who had an affair -- and I have been divorced for three years, but have been forced into a roommate situation due to health issues on my part and financial issues on his. We have two kids together that I have needed his help with. However, there is a potential "new guy" in my life who is uncomfortable that my ex still lives here.
My friends tell me I'm too nice to have let him stay here for so long. I feel it's the charitable thing to do because he has nowhere to go. I'm also afraid my kids will think I'm being hateful if I kick their father out. Oh my God, Abby, what do I do? -- IN TRANSITION IN TENNESSEE
DEAR IN TRANSITION: If you want to stay "stuck" in your predicament, allow your former husband to continue living there. If you would like to go on with your life, then recognize that very few men would want to date a woman who has another man living with her.
By allowing your ex to stay with you, you have allowed your children to think your marriage could be repaired. If that is not the case -- and search your heart before answering that question -- then set a time limit for him to leave.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I went to a restaurant last night. We were enjoying our meal when a couple came in and sat at a table close to ours. Soon, a bad body odor wafted over to where we were sitting. It was so strong I couldn't finish my dinner.
When we got up to pay our bill, we told the manager about it and asked what could be done. He said that was a tough question and he didn't know the answer. I told him I was going to write to Dear Abby and ask. He said if I got an answer to be sure to let him know. What would you suggest? -- CHOKING IN IOWA
DEAR CHOKING: It was not the responsibility of the restaurant staff to "do" anything about your problem. The thing to do was change to a table in another section. If you were questioned about it -- which I doubt you would be -- the polite response would be that you preferred a table in a different location.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)