While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On fielding 10,000,000 questions about twins:
I have four kids under 5, including infant identical twin girls. Public commentary never ceases. Some days I don’t want to run errands because I just don’t want to answer the endless questions, but another twin mom reminded me: Most of the time, people just want to make a human connection, even if they’re doing it in an annoying or ham-handed way. This has really helped me flip the script when I get the 100th “You have your hands full” or “double trouble” comment. There’s so much that’s terrible and divisive in our world today; remembering our shared humanity and forging connections rather than giving in to the annoyance has made a huge difference for me.
On setting limits with irresponsible grands:
It is not a grandparent’s job to spoil our grandchildren! Where did that come from, anyway? My wife and I see our jobs as supporting our daughter and her children. She is the arbiter of any decisions; we even run birthday and Christmas presents by her, just out of love and respect for her as a person and the mom.
When we were raising our daughter and son, we had to tell their grandmother that, no, Grandmom could not visit with them without us — for safety reasons. We explained. We restated often. It was hard. She did not hear. Her feelings were hurt. But that’s all that was hurt.
On being happiest while alone:
I, too, was a happy loner — spent a lot of comfortable time alone, dined alone, saw movies and traveled alone. All was well ... until my best friend — Mom — died at 100.
It never occurred to me that I had never been truly alone. Mom was my rock and the best company ever. I still have friends, but they’re coffee and lunch friends, no one I’d feel comfortable filling in as an emergency contact.
Those who don’t think they miss being around people might do well to keep in mind that they can be comfortable alone because, to a large degree, they aren’t, not when they have people in their lives and who want to be in their life. Would they not miss people if there were none in their lives to miss?
Life is full of surprises and revelations about ourselves and how we think the world is.
On saying no to guests who invite themselves:
I live in Honolulu and know lots of people who want to visit: I am happy to see most of them and happy to provide clean sheets, towels and my spare bedroom. I work and don’t cook so my friends know they are on their own much of the time — and that usually works. In the words of a colleague: I don’t run a bed-and-breakfast, I run a couch and doughnut!
On those rare occasions I’ve felt people were taking advantage of my location or hospitality, I offer help in locating a hotel. Once I told a potential visitor, “The hotel is closed,” and that ended that.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.