Saturday 22 July 2017

Dear Mary: I helped family for years but they never said thanks

Mary O'Conor is a relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist who offers advice in her weekly column.

Illustration: Tom Halliday
Illustration: Tom Halliday

Mary O'Connor

Hi Mary, I would like some advice please.

I'm 76 years young and my story goes back 19 years when I was asked to mind a child who was four months old.

I bonded immediately with both mum and baby and was paid a fair wage into my hand. Then along came baby number two and I carried on with an increase in pay. They thought the world of me and I them. I even went on holidays with them, mine being a paid working holiday.

Roll on 19 years and it was time to finish as my lovely babies had grown up.

My problem, as well as missing them, what's hurting so much that it's keeping me awake at night is that I did not get even a thank you for all those years of love and loyalty.

I don't think I ever let them down. What do I do? Will I say how I feel although I know if I do, that will be the end. By the way, they are a wealthy family.

Mary replies:  Some people are very vocal and some are not. Some are thoughtless and others are full of thoughtfulness. I remember when my mother was dying she asked me on a number of occasions if I knew that she loved me. She had never actually said it to me up until then, although I knew it in all sorts of ways over the years that she loved me very much. So as the end approached she told me over and over again that she loved me even though the words didn't come easily to her.

I feel that you were probably deeply appreciated by this family but they never thought to actually say thank you. I'm sure they missed you also when you left - you must have been like one of the family after all those years.

Presumably it is the parents that you are upset with, not the children. The children will have seen you as part of their growing up and would not even think to say thank you, just as they have probably never said thank you to their parents.

I do feel, however, that some small token would have been very appropriate when the time came to say goodbye to you.

I don't think saying how you feel about the lack of thanks would achieve anything. If, however, your paths cross for some reason it would be very appropriate to tell them how much you miss your 'babies' and how much you enjoyed being part of their growing up. They will no doubt tell you that they miss you as well. You might also think of sending birthday and Christmas cards to the children in order to keep up the contact. Try not to worry about this too much. Instead be secure in the fact that you did a wonderful job over many years and nothing will ever take that away from you.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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