DEAR ABBY: I am a physician and mother of a toddler who understands "New Mom in Las Vegas" (Nov. 4), the woman who is concerned because she finds playing with her 8-month-old tedious. While postpartum depression should be ruled out, it is not uncommon for an adult woman to be bored by endless hours of playing with blocks and rattles.
Raising a child is the most rewarding, loving and, yes, sometimes boring job a person can take on. Suggesting that women are good mothers only if they are constantly enthralled with children's activities sets them up for feelings of failure and inadequacy.
Getting out of the house for any activity, such as a walk or a trip to the library or store, helps relieve the tedium. Most experts urge new mothers to take personal time away from their children as a way to maintain their sense of individuality and perspective. If reading or going online recharges "Mom," it should not be considered an unhealthy escape.
A final word: The new dad should help his partner feel appreciated and practice his own parenting skills by giving her a break from child care. -- HAPPY MOM IN CHESTER, VT.
DEAR HAPPY MOM: Thank you for mentioning that fathers are an important part of the equation. "New Mom," and others like her, will appreciate your letter of support. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Every mother is different. Some of us were meant to be stay-at-home moms, others need the challenge of a career and the company of other adults. This doesn't make someone a bad mom.
Perhaps "New Mom" should consider returning to her career earlier than she had planned. Although being a working mom is a tough balancing act, it may provide her with what she needs as both a mother and as a woman. -- NEW MOM WITH A PLAN
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 75-year-old mom of four boys, all born 18 months apart. I was bored silly playing with babies, but found a way to make it work for me. I would pack up my babies and walk outside in the morning and after nap time. We walked for miles observing nature while I got some much-needed exercise. I had the healthiest babies in town and looked pretty good myself! I can't remember "playing" with my boys, but we all have fond memories of hours at the park, walking in the rain and snack time at the convenience store. -- OLD MOM IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of two nearly grown girls. I never felt it was my responsibility to be their playmate. When they were babies and toddlers, they played while I pursued my interests, hobbies and chores. While I sewed, they played with fabric and ribbons. While I cooked, they played at my feet with pots, pans and spoons. While I did yard work, they played in the sandbox.
It's important for our children to see us as individuals who are more than "their" parents. Finding a playgroup is always a good idea. Seeking therapy may be necessary, too. Completely abandoning the person you were before becoming a parent is unhealthy for both parent and child. -- MARGIE IN ROCHESTER, N.Y.
DEAR ABBY: I enjoyed caring for my children, but there were times when I thought if I had to drive one more toy car across the carpet making car noises with my mouth, I would literally fling myself out the window. I woke up with the Barney theme song in my head and couldn't stop cutting all food into bite-size pieces. How many games of peek-a-boo can you play before you wonder if the liquor store delivers? No one prepares you for this type of job.
Things will change as her child gets older, and she can benefit from the support of other moms if she finds a playgroup. Please tell her not to feel guilty! -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (WITHOUT ALCOHOL)
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds)
to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)