Adapted from a recent online discussion.
How do I adjust to being a stay-at-home mom?
Q: I feel like I'm a working mom stuck inside a stay-at-home mom's body. This is a new and strange lifestyle that's just not clicking with me yet, and I worry it never will. I'm afraid going back to work isn't going to happen anytime soon, nor do I necessarily want it to. All the "mommy friends" I've made are educated, driven career women like I ... was. They work during the day, and I'm left at home with my little one. How do I adjust to this new lifestyle?
Trapped New Mom
A: Plenty of educated, driven career people take time away from careers to be home with their kids, so you haven't fallen out of some exclusive club or become a different person.
You might, though, be asking too much of stay-at-home parenthood. If you expect it to be just you and Baby and gingerbread — or even just your old life, but home with child — then you're putting yourself on a path to go out of your mind.
I don't think it's natural for parents to be holed up alone with their kids. There has generally always been a communal element to raising kids — and just look what happened in 1950s America when being home with your kids and your sleek new washing machine was supposed to be enough.
So try applying some of your workplace skills to your new lifestyle: How best to get this job done well, within your budget, taking your new reality into account, and without isolating yourself? Raising a happy child will mean introducing the world to your child, and vice versa. Think goals, not traps.
Don't worry about a 2-year-old who has never had a play date
Q: I had a child earlier than any of my friends or relatives. I work, and she's in day care a couple of days a week, but I rarely see other parents at pickup/dropoff. I've tried meeting other moms through neighborhood Listservs, but not much has come of it; and frankly, a lot of moms I meet stay at home and aren't really interested in socializing with working moms because of scheduling.
As a result, at 2 our kid has never had a playdate. I have no idea how she reacts to other kids, and I'm worried we're somehow failing to socialize her properly. It's especially worrisome because we are expecting baby No. 2, and still don't know anyone with kids. Are we damaging her forever? What other things should I try to make mom-friends?
A: You're the one who's not socializing; your 2-year-old spends a couple of days a week immersed in the peer-interaction petri dish of day care. She'll be fine.
And while it might be worth it for your own reasons to keep making an effort to meet other parents, it's also okay to be patient. For a lot of parents, the real chances to circulate don't come until their kids are in school. Day care is such a drop-and-go environment, whereas schools (in my experience) foster communities — as do the waiting areas for music lessons, dance classes, sports practices, and whatever else you wait around for your a-little-bit-older child to pursue.