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Going solo on Mother’s Day

I told my friend Lisa at work, “I’m going to be alone on Mother’s Day.””I’m jealous!” she said immediately.I told my sister, single mother of a 4-year-old in perpetual motion. “I wish I was,” she said.Any of us loves our kids to pieces. Still, what I have always thought would be great on Mother’s Day is: being alone. I just didn’t, given the occasion, think it would sound too good to ask for it.Slightly guiltily, but more trying to contain my glee, I kept my voice neutral with each account.A few male friends, with the kindest intentions, said, “Awww.”Said my friend Julie, mother of a toddler, raising both arms, “What could be better?”I know I may feel differently at some – perhaps any – other time in my life. But when I related my plans to my friend Betsy, a widow and a grandmother, she, too, got it right away. She smiled and said, “I bet you’re looking forward to that.”What I almost never find these days, between family and work, is solitude – especially time alone in my house. This year my husband and sons would be away, at running and bike races: I would have more than 24 hours.I’d rent a movie and fix a burrito, and another the next night, and nobody would say, “Burritos again?”On Saturday, shivering at a kids’ soccer game, several women discussed the next day’s plans.”John asked me if I wanted to go out to breakfast,” said Cindy. “Going out to breakfast with young children is not my idea of relaxing. I never get to finish my coffee. Never!””I said, ‘Could you take the kids somewhere? Like Fruita? Or Grand Junction?'””Grand Junction is far enough,” she said reflectively. “The only problem is, if he goes there” – a repository of bulk goods – “he’ll spend a lot of money.”I handed the boys off that afternoon, then went for a quick hike.”What movie?” I wondered, giddy. I could get a weepy, or follow baser instincts and watch “Troy” – again. I picked the smart, quirky “A Day Without a Mexican,” and ate my burrito in front of it. My idea of a good time has gotten pretty pathetic.Oh, I’d had a tender moment, returning home, upon seeing the boys’ lunchboxes, side by side. Then I looked at the pajamas and dirty socks strewn across the floor. If I’d ever had any doubts, they’d evaporated that morning at 6:25 when both boys bounded onto my bed and began wrestling, one slamming into my rib cage.The rest of that day I’d been to three soccer games, with sandwich-making, grocery shopping, taking the recycling, and three other errands fit in.Playing messages, I found one from my friend Laura: “I hear you’re in the same situation I am this Mother’s Day.” Her crew was off visiting grandparents. “Isn’t this just the best?” she marveled. “Being in your own house, with nobody there.”A friend had invited her along on a dinner Sunday night, and Laura hastily said, “No!”Solitude can be rare for any parent, but especially, I think, many women. After my mother was widowed, I remember her saying, “You know, in all these years, I think I had only ever spent three or four nights in this house alone.”Years ago, I bumped into my ebullient friend Pat, a mother, at City Market, and paused to chat. She hurried off, though: to sit in her car alone, she explained, and drink a Pepsi and read a newspaper. She couldn’t wait. I looked out and imagined a nation of women in parking lots, battened down, glorying in their few minutes.On Mother’s Day I read fiction; went climbing with friends; sifted quietly through some paperwork and through the Sunday paper.Solitude is a great Mother’s Day gift, and it costs very little. Unless you go to Grand Junction.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at aosius@hotmail.com


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