Dear Carolyn:

I am having my first child in four months and unfortunately, my pregnancy is a difficult one. The real problem is my mother-in-law, "Peggy." She keeps pestering me about my pregnancy and expects every detail. Although my husband has repeatedly told "Peggy" I need space, she hassles me about wanting to help decorate the nursery and go on baby-shopping expeditions. I am not comfortable with my mother-in-law and do not enjoy her company. I also do not feel I am obligated in any way to share my pregnancy with her. My husband and my mother, sisters and close friends are the only ones I want to share this experience with. How can I get "Peggy" to back off?

Arizona

She wants to help? And take you shopping? The woman's a beast.

I'm sympathetic about the difficult pregnancy; it can seem like everyone wants your (very private) story. Peggy has no right to push for details or choose your nursery decor.

But you have no right to demand that a grandmother stop caring about her grandchild just because you don't like her.

Your real problem is that you're so caught up in yourself that you rate a mother's pleas for inclusion as worse than a difficult pregnancy. You married her son. To say you're not obligated to include her -- in the baby experience or any other of her son's milestones -- is just breathtaking, no matter how obnoxious she is. (And if anyone has a better typographic means than italics to convey arm-flapping exasperation, please send to tellme@washpost.com, thanks.) Unless Peggy has harmed you, or your husband is estranged from her, she is a part of your life. She's a part of this baby's life. Get used to it.

Even better, embrace it. Desperate people do desperate things; stop shutting Peggy out, and maybe she'll stop pressing so hard. Speaking to her directly instead of by carrier husband is one place to start.

You don't have to admit her to your innermost circle, birthing room or baby registry. But for your husband's sake, for Peggy's, especially for your baby's, and ultimately for your own, it wouldn't kill you to find some bearable ways to let a grandma enjoy her new role. Repeat after me: "S/he's kicking like crazy, wanna feel it?"

Dear Carolyn:

I've basically been in a relationship with a guy for about a year. He's my best friend, I love him dearly, and I'm so happy when I'm with him. I know he shares these feelings. Unfortunately, my family and even certain friends do not know about this because we are not actually boyfriend/girlfriend. He worries that if we are, something will go wrong and we will lose our friendship as well, and this would devastate him. I realize this is a possibility, but I think we are already past the point where we could go back to being just friends. Do I wait for him to trust our relationship?

Washington

Technically, you'd be waiting for him either to grow up (that life isn't all happy endings is old news to my 8-year-old niece), or stop using you for uncommitted sex.

I'll help you with the question, but not the answer. Whether you indulge him or cry foul is entirely up to you.

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