Q. "I'm going to switch soon from a secure, well-paid -- even glamorous -- job to full-time motherhood and a new house in Silver Spring," writes a 32-year-old government worker.
"I have a 4 1/2-year old daughter, a terrifically kind, loving and liberated husband and a personal philosophy of feminism and independance that I used to feel I could only fulfill through a paid career. I have just recently come to realize, however that the real world, for me, is at home with my daughter and the baby we plan to have.
"I know I'm lucky to be able to choose full-time motherhood and a slower pace but I do have apprehensions about finding interesting friends. It's easy to find other working mothers when you work, but there's no central meeting place for full-time mothers and I won't have time to take classes or volunteer.
"How can I find (or establish) a network in my new neighborhood?"
A. Yes, you are lucky to be able to quit work if you want; most women have no choice. And you're wise to look for your network now, if only because it probably will be quite different from what you expect.
Like most newcomers you'll no doubt pursue the old standbys -- the family connections, the high-school or college alumnae groups and the churches -- but unless your interests are as deep as theirs, you may not find many people you enjoy, for freindships need a common bond to flourish.
And that 4-year-old is one of the best bonds you can have.
As you probably know, Silver Spring is made up of dozens of villages -- each quite different -- with civic groups, community centers and parks. However, it's the many cooperative groups that should attract you most, for anything cooperative is the central meeting place for a full-time mother.
Even though you think you have more money than time, don't be lured down that path. It's true that any cooperative -- for food, for baby-sitting or for nursery school -- is a bother, but it almost always gives the best service you can get and above all it gives you your network. Many of the women you meet in these enterprises will become your lifelong friends, because you will have the same bond -- your families.
While baby-sitting co-ops come and go in Silver Spring, depending on the age of the children in a neighborhood, they're worth looking for. When you meet people on their own turf -- as you do when you or your husband goes to sit -- you find out if you want to know them better. The way parents tell their child goodnight will tell you more about them than any number of backyard cook-outs.
As for nursery schools, two of the oldest, best-respected cooperatives are the Silver Spring Nursery School, at 10309 New Hampshire Ave., and the Takoma Park Nursery School, at 7300 New Hampshire.
There also is the program at the University Methodist Church called Mother's Day Out. Designed to let a mother run her errands, it is sponsered by many Baptist and Methodist churches in the metropolitan area and has been the salvation of a great many full-time mothers.
Another fine nursery school is at the Silver Spring YMCA on Hastings Drive, which isn't a cooperative but it is at one more central meeting place you should know about. The Y not only has the school, but classes for adults, for children and for mothers and children together.
Even you say you have no time for classes, they are excellent places to meet people who like the same things you do, and so are political campaigns and special-interest groups, from mental health to natural childbirth.
You may think a full-time mother has no time for volenteer work. Actually it's one of the best parts of your job. Where else could you master new skills no one would ever pay you to learn?
Again, you're building your network.
Those interesting women you want to meet are interesting because of the way they spend their time. It isn't that they have so much of it to throw away; they just know that each hour spent with a child requires some comp time with adults before everyone in the world seems belly-button high.
If you're going to take good care of your family, you have to take good care of your psyche too.