DEAR ABBY: I'm in a bit of a predicament because I lent my maternity clothes to a friend who is due in late December. Her husband lost his job.
I just found out that I am expecting and I am due in late April, and I have no idea how to ask for my clothes back without offending her or telling her I'm pregnant. (My husband and I aren't telling anyone yet.) I don't think I should wait until I start showing — which could be soon, based on previous pregnancies — because she really needs them and I know I'd be leaving her with very little notice that she needs to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
— IN A BIND IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR IN A BIND: Swear your friend to secrecy and explain that you're pregnant, too. Then, rather than take all your clothes back, take some — and fill in your maternity wardrobe by buying yourself some new items. You have the income in your household to do it. Right now, she's "stuck" — so be a generous friend and don't leave her naked.
DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law, who is in her 80s, was always an amazing hostess. She is excited and eager to help with the upcoming wedding of a grandchild. Detailed tasks now cause her anxiety, which results in serious physical symptoms.
We suggested that she could help by writing a journal about what she has learned in her own long marriage. She's an excellent writer, but she wasn't interested in the idea.
Can you or your readers suggest any other ways a parent can help — something with low anxiety but that feels meaningful?
— BRIDE'S MOM IN VIRGINIA
DEAR BRIDE'S MOM: Your mother-in-law could donate an item that would fall into the "something borrowed" or "something blue" category. She might also present her granddaughter with a collection of family recipes.
But if neither of these ideas interest her, and she has her heart set on entertaining, then why not have her co-host a shower or luncheon, which would take much of the pressure of planning the event off her shoulders? Readers?
DEAR ABBY: I have been married 14 years and have four beautiful children. I want to return to nursing school and have for quite a while. I have been accepted to college, but my husband says he wants me to wait until our kids are out of school. Our youngest is only in the fourth grade.
I sometimes feel my husband doesn't want me to better myself. We have had a rocky relationship. He cheated on me three years ago and since then, my feelings are no longer the same for him.
Do you think I am being selfish for wanting to go to school? This is something I would like to do without feeling guilty. Please help.
— CONFUSED IN NEW YORK
DEAR CONFUSED: Listen to your intuition. If it's telling you you may need to prepare to be independent and provide for yourself and your children, then that's what you need to do, and don't feel guilty about it. This may have something to do with the fact that your relationship with your husband has changed since you learned he was unfaithful. If your marriage improves — fabulous. But if it doesn't, you won't be left without a marketable skill — so go for it.
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.