Got a problem? Need some advice? Write to Debra at email@example.com and look for your answer in next month’s Red Thread.
Dear Debra: Now that our baby is a bit older and can take a bottle, my mom has been taking her out, or having me drop my daughter at her house every now and then. I make sure to pack everything she will need. And more. When I bring the baby home after visiting with my mom, invariably something is missing — baby wipes or extra diapers, a bottle or pacifier and sometimes even the extra change of clothes I pack. It’s not such a big deal, but it’s irritating to have things go missing every visit and then have to replace them. What can I do? — Misplaced Items
How fortunate you are! It seems like Mom is a trooper — eager to help out and give you some much needed alone time and quiet. As for the missing items, you didn’t say if they were truly missing, as in left behind at Meijer, or if she just forgot to return them to you.
It might help to create a “baby central” area in an accessible place in your mom’s home stocked with everything she will need from diapers, to pacifiers to bottles, formula, wipes and an outfit or two. Or present her with a well-stocked baby bag of her own so that when she is out and about with your daughter, she has everything at her fingertips.
When you drop your daughter off for a visit with Grandma, have some extra supplies with you just in case she’s running low on her end. In the big picture, what’s a few lost bibs and bottles when you have an extra pair of loving hands so readily extended your way?
Dear Debra: Our son will soon receive his Ph.D. and he has done nothing to apply for a position. I have reminded him on more than one occasion that the longer he delays, the greater the chances he could end up unemployed, but he ignores my advice. What can I do to motivate him to take action? — Frustrated Father
If your son is old enough and intelligent enough to have earned a Ph.D., then he is certainly capable of understanding the consequences of dragging his well-educated heels in the job search.
If I may ask, why are you on your son’s case about getting a job? What you call advice, he might very well call interfering/annoying, and thus the deaf ears. Are your ongoing reminders a way to stem your own anxieties about his being unemployed and expecting support from you? As long as you have made it clear that you will not support him (and you have made that clear, haven’t you?) then you have done all you can do.
Your son has the tools and training to make his way in life. Best to stand back and let him do so. He just might surprise you in the end by how well he rises to the challenge.
Dear Debra: I’ve recently retired from a 35-year career. I love working but am looking for flexibility. I would like to do something that adds meaning to my life, volunteer and/or find a new hobby. But I just don’t know how to move forward. — Retired But Not Out To Pasture
Dear Retired But Not Out:
Congratulations on entering this next stage of life and doing so with such admirable intentions. Meaning can come from many quarters, and you are right to place volunteering at the top of the list. You might start with our Jewish Federation (jewishdetroit.org or 248-642-4260) or your local library or community house for a list of organizations seeking volunteers.
What have you always wanted to do but never had time for? Now could be the time to pursue that back-burner dream. If it’s hobbies you want, check out meetup.com. In the site’s own words: Meetups are neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something. A quick glance netted events for photography, outdoor adventure and salsa dancing. It may take time to find your niche, but be persistent. You have many years left to enjoy, and yes, find meaning.
Debra Darvick is the author of This Jewish Life: Stories of Discovery, Connection and Joy and I love Jewish faces. She shares her unique take on life, books and more at