DEAR ABBY: I am a 40-something single mother of two teens. A 24-year-old neighbor with a young daughter moved in next door a couple years ago after her divorce. She recently joined the workforce, and being a single working mother for the last year and a half has been a difficult adjustment for her. When she sees me outside, she comes over to vent. She seems incapable of just giving a friendly wave and going about her day.
I like to garden in peace. She has actually come into my yard, sat on my lawn and complained while I continued weeding. She prefaces it by telling me she doesn’t want advice; she just wants to vent. Abby, I have lived her life — with a lot less support — and at this point, I value my alone time. I don’t want to listen to her woes.
I find myself sneaking around my yard trying to avoid her. Today, I saw her setting up a trampoline in her backyard. It’s close to my yard and right outside my dining room window. How do I communicate to her that I don’t want a visitor when I’m working in my yard? I know her feelings will be hurt. I’ve already tried to set boundaries by not initiating conversation and not inviting her over. Help! — PRIVATE IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR PRIVATE: Tell your neighbor she needs to find another person to vent to because your gardening activities are the way you cope with your own problems, and you prefer to do that without company. Then suggest she find a comparable activity for herself that may serve the same purpose. She…