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My Daughter Hates Playdates. Is It My Fault?

It was about five months ago when we first met L and her mom, at a weekly postpartum support group that took place at the local JCC. L's mom and I clicked and, when she left the group to go back to work, we exchanged contact information.

We'd gone on a single walk in the park since then, and they'd also come to one of our barbecues. But this playdate would be the first chance for Em and L to really interact. In fact, it would be Em's first playdate ever.

Obviously, I was excited. So when my husband and I arrived at L's house with Em, we quickly extracted her from her car seat and her snowsuit and plopped her down on the large play mat in the living room, eager to see their friendship magically blossom like a beautiful bunch of hydrangeas. L—who had been attending day care at her mother's office since the age of 2 months—squealed happily upon seeing Em.

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Em, on the other hand, immediately began sobbing. She remained inconsolable for the next 10 or 15 minutes. My husband and I were mortified. This was obviously an indication that we had failed as parents.

I know what you're thinking: Seven months in and no playdates? As a busy WAHM who also teaches yoga on the weekends, I've had trouble finding the time to make mom friends, let alone make plans with them. And though I'd been diligent about attending new mom circles and Mommy & Me activities at the beginning of new motherhood, as my work load increased—and the temperature decreased—I'd become more isolated, retreating back to my pre-baby reclusive ways.

Isn't mommy guilt a given, no matter what decisions we make as parents?

And since I'd resisted paying for child care, convinced I could juggle my daughter and my work simultaneously, Em had become a recluse by default.

Just last week, a few days before that ill-fated playdate, I blogged about the guilt I feel over being unable to interact with Em during the work day as much as I'd like to.

Now it seems I have much more to feel guilty about.

Which is typical, isn't it? Isn't mommy guilt a given, no matter what decisions we make as parents? Isn't this the part where I freak out about having not socialized Em enough and, as a result, overcompensate by overextending myself, scheduling playdates and activities I don't have time for, paying for child care I don't have money for?

Deciding what's best for our children isn't a black-and-white decision. So much is dependent upon our life circumstances. And the solution that works for one family may not work for another.

So you might proclaim the glories of day care. Meanwhile, I'm thinking of returning to Mommy & Me Yoga and Mommy & Me Storytime, and of paying another mom I know to watch Em one or two days a week, alongside her own daughter. It might work. It might not. The best I can do is test things out and adjust course as needed.

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As for Em's playdate, it wasn't a total loss. Em eventually calmed down. Both babies got to know each other a little bit better. All parents involved got to enjoy a few beers.

And when we strapped Em back into her car seat several hours later and placed her in the car, she was asleep within nanoseconds.

Maybe she was just overtired.

Image via Twenty20/dianarobi

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