Adapted from a recent online discussion.
If romance is over, then so is your relationship with ex's dog
D.C.: My boyfriend and I split up a few months ago. We had a dog together. (He adopted, but I was the co-parent.) I love this dog. My ex has recently moved, which makes it more difficult to see the dog, since I no longer have keys. But my ex seems to be making it even more difficult, not responding right away to my e-mailed schedule requests (which I send in advance, at least two to three days before), and when he does respond, he's too busy to come home to let me see the dog.
It makes me really sad that the dog is alone when he could be with me. I'm not living somewhere where I can have the dog overnight more than once in a while. (I had to move out when we split up.) I don't expect my ex to cater to my schedule, but some acknowledgment and accommodation would be nice. Any suggestions on how to share custody of the dog? I don't want to fight or get ugly over it. I just want to see the dog.
Carolyn: I can't believe I'm saying this — I see pets as extended family — but I think you need to give up.
He's making it clear that he's not going to let you see the dog, and your continuing to try is only making you miserable. Dogs aren't kids; they live in the present, so it's not like with a child, where your visitation failures could be seen as a personal betrayal. Visiting is just for you, and you're not getting anything out of it.
Consider volunteering at a shelter, if you miss your connection with dogs, and try not to look back.
Most meaningful gift is a written expression of your feelings
London: It has been the toughest period of my life, and I don't know how I would have made it through without my mother and mother-in-law. My husband is in the States for work; my son and I are overseas because of my work. My mom and MIL have given up months of their lives and left their families behind to move in with me and help raise our son.
And it's not just our son they've been taking care of; Mom was my rock during my recent miscarriage, MIL just nursed me through the swine flu. There are no words for what these women have done. We're moving back home in a few weeks, and I want to do something to thank them. I've asked them what they'd like as special treats — a year's worth of pedicures? Monthly gift certificates to favorite restaurants? Skywriting singing their praises? They both insist that they want nothing more than for me to do the same for my son and his family someday. Even my biggest ideas feel inadequate. Gah. Any suggestions?
Carolyn: Nothing beats writing down your thoughts in a card or letter. Anyone with money can get someone a year's worth of pedicures (Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071), but a letter requires time, thought and paragraphs of individual detail. And, most important, it can be kept in a drawer for the rest of their lives, allowing them, on their bad days, to quickly lay hands on proof that they're valued by someone.