One week of solitude! I had dreamed about this ever since the
first of my seven children entered my life - a long time ago.
This was going to be solitude at its best. Jogging along the
beach and plenty of swimming would get my body into shape; some
good books would feed my spirit. I would look after myself for a
change. I deserved it! But the telephone brought me out of my
"How are you, Mom?" Daughter No. 1 was on the line. "Just
thought I'd see what you were up to."
Before I knew it, I had given her the fabulous news.
"A cottage for a week!" she screeched, "and not even far from
"It's more than two hours' drive, dear," I tried to discourage
"That's nothing, Mom. Adrienne and I haven't spent time with you
for ages. I'll bring the food, and you won't have to work. What do
you say?" she begged.
"It will have to be another time, dear. I am treating myself to
a week of solitude," I said bravely and changed the subject.
All my children are caring. They keep in touch. Soon Ruth,
daughter No. 4, called.
"How are you doing, Mom?"
"Not bad, thanks, dear."
"Is the house a little too quiet since Liz's wedding?" she
inquired. "I'm coming home to keep you company the weekend of the
16th; that'll liven things up. To tell you the truth, Mom, I need
"Oh, I won't be home that weekend."
"Where are you going?"
"I've rented a cottage." By now I felt terribly guilty uttering
this bit of news.
"A cottage, where?" she sounded wistful.
"Right now I'd give my eye teeth for a weekend at the lake, but
I'm glad for you, Mom. Have a great time."
Ruth is always so considerate. I felt wickedly selfish, but I
said, "Perhaps you can spend that weekend with someone else?"
Before long, No. 2 son also called. After the "how are you's" I
heard him say: "I wonder if the kids could visit you for a couple
of days the week of the 17th? Linda and I would love to get away,
just for a bit."
I understood their need to spend some time alone, but I stood my
ground and objected, "The kids are teens now, they don't want to be
with me. Besides, I'll be at a cottage that week."
"Fabulous, Mom! The kids would love it!" he enthused. "It would
only be for a couple of days. Honestly, Mom, Dave and Julie like to
be with you."
That is a compliment, I mused, but aloud I said, "To be honest,
dear, I explicitly rented the cottage to have some solitude. And
how is everything else with you?" I asked quickly.
After that I was almost glad that the rest of my children lived
far away. Saying "no" was exhausting.
I was ready for that whole week at the cottage, all by myself -
or is that too selfish? I reflected.
The answer, it turned out, was not what I expected. In that
peaceful setting I could almost feel years of tension draining from
me. I'd stand at the shore and watch as the sun set and turned the
vast expanse of gently rippling waves into a sea of gold, set with
millions of glittering diamonds. …