Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: About four years ago, my girlfriend broke up with me. The relationship didn't end on a happy note. Since then, she has gotten married and had a child. However, she continues to write to me two or three times a year.

She always asks me how I am and if I'm seeing anyone. I think this is a bit odd. I had always thought that when people got married, they moved on and relegated their old relationships to the back of their memories.

I always answer her letters very nicely, and I never ask why she continues to write.

Abby, now I'm wondering if you think she's trying to keep me on the back burner. Or do you think she just wants to be friends? -- MIKE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR MIKE: Writing to a former boyfriend three times a year seems a bit too often to me, and yes, I do think she's trying to keep you on the back burner. If her motives were strictly platonic, you wouldn't hear from her more than once a year.

Since the correspondence is making you uncomfortable, I suggest that you respond with little or no enthusiasm.

DEAR ABBY: I am 22 years old and the mother of a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old. I have a part-time job.

My husband, "Mike," was unemployed for six months, but he has finally gone back to work.

Abby, lately I have been feeling lazy. I want my house to be spic-and-span, but even though I know the work must be done, I'm not motivated. I'm tired of doing everything around the house. When Mike was unemployed, he did the cooking, but he doesn't do it anymore.

I get up at 5 a.m., make Mike's breakfast, pack him a lunch, wake the kids, change their diapers, dress and feed them, prepare their bottles, brush their teeth and get them ready for day care. Then I shower and dress. After that, I drive the kids to day care and Mike to work. He has no driver's license, so I am the family taxi driver. I'm so tired of driving and everything else. Could this be what is making me feel so lazy? I was never like this before.

I worry about the bills that haven't been paid and credit card balances I can't pay. Mike seems to love to spend money on things he wants but does not need. He doesn't put us first. He never asks if the kids need anything. He's concerned only with himself.

Talking to Mike doesn't help. He just says, "Don't worry about it." I worry enough for both of us, and sometimes I find myself daydreaming about our having lots of money so that we would have no problems.

Abby, what can I do about my laziness and feeling so down? -- YOUNG AND LAZY MOTHER

DEAR MOTHER: A young mother with two small children and a part-time job has plenty to make her tired, but you show signs of more than fatigue. You appear to be experiencing symptoms of depression. Please consult your doctor as soon as possible, and describe your symptoms. Some professional counseling may be in order. Medication, if you have a chemical imbalance, and a few counseling sessions should help you resolve this and get you back on track.

Since cost is a factor, ask your doctor to refer you to low-cost counseling, or contact family services centers that charge according to your ability to pay.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600