"I can be a different person"
If it were just an escape that moms were looking for, however, they could flip on the TV or pick up a book. But according to a recent Babytalk.com poll, more than double the amount of moms choose the computer over books or the boob tube during their babies' naps, showing that they're looking for something more than an escape: connection, yes, but also a way to express themselves.
After giving birth, says Moore, many women feel like they've given up their identity to the all-consuming role of "mother." "It's another sense of loss common in new moms," she says. Flirting with ex-boyfriends on Facebook or buying a handbag online may remind us of the people we used to be -- the working woman, the woman who had time for art projects, the woman who wore skirts and lipstick. "I'm just a mother in real life, but online, I can be a whole person," says Ashley Bryan, a mom of 2-year-old twins from Las Vegas, of her four-hour-a-day online habit.
On virtual-living sites like Second Life, where users create avatars, moms can become anyone from a leather-wearing motorcycle chick to a college cheerleader. In moderation, trying on different personas can be healthy, assures Moore. It becomes problematic when the online identity becomes so appealing that you neglect your real-life role. "My husband feels like I don't spend enough time with him," says Bryan. "He says that every time he's home and can watch the girls, I dash online."
"I have so much to do!"
Online, you can pay bills, order diapers, upload photos, and look up possible causes of your kid's constipation. In fact, you can almost accomplish too much online. "Ticking items off a to-do list is intoxicating when you feel like you don't have much control over other parts of your life," says Parker (and what's more uncontrollable than life with a newborn?). Diane Anderson, mom of a 7-month-old in Memphis, knows the feeling. "I started following coupon sites and became so engrossed in finding deals that I neglected the important things, like time with my son, for a while."
After the Internet, real life can seem, well, unproductive. "When I play with my boys, I feel like I should be getting something done," says one mom of 18-month-old twins in New York City. "I almost get antsy just hanging out with them, and I take regular breaks to check my e-mail, respond to a Facebook friend request, or order photos from Snapfish. I'm addicted to online errands."