Just putting that confession into words leaves me awash in "mommy guilt." But here's the truth: Though I love each and every one of my five children; though I long for soul-connections with each one; though I desire to be a mom who lives in the moment; though I realize that all too soon my handful of blessings will leave my home to blaze a trail of their own, I still CRAVE solitude. I dream of starting my day in quiet and lingering over a second cup of coffee without balancing two preschoolers on my knee. I yearn to soak in the Word without simultaneously flipping the pages of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel for the early riser on my lap. And sometimes, I long to walk alone and talk to my Maker instead of chatting with a bouncing nine-year-old or pushing a discontented baby in a stroller.
However, each time I feel put-out by the "company I keep," I remember a simple conversation I had with my mother-in-law shortly after the birth of my fourth child. Sleep-deprived, sanity-challenged, and over-touched (if I didn't have a baby attached to my body, I had a preschooler hanging from my leg), I cornered my husband one Saturday afternoon and begged for a thirty-minute break. He graciously agreed that a walk along the lake was just what I needed, and he sent me trekking with his blessing. I was closing the front door when Lizzy spotted me.
"Wait, Mom!" she hollered as she ran across the yard, "I want to go, too."
"I'm walking fast," I warned my poky puppy.
"That's okay; I'll scooter."
"I'm too tired to talk," I countered.
"That's all right, you can just listen," she replied with a grin as she raced to the garage. I sighed and failed to respond to her enthusiasm.
As we exited the driveway, my in-laws drove up. Lizzy waved and assured her grandparents that we'd be home soon. I invited my mother-in-law to join us, but she smiled and said that she didn't want to intrude on a mother-daughter moment.
"Oh, it's no big deal," I responded, "I WANTED to walk alone."
"Someday you WILL," my husband's mom replied with a touch of sadness. "Before you know it."
I still crave solace in the midst of motherhood. I still set my alarm for a pre-dawn wake up in hopes of greeting the new day without a welcome party at my side. I still slip out on occasion for a walk with no one but my Savior at my side. But on the days that my children interrupt my search for solitude, I remember my mother-in-law's words. Someday, I will walk alone. And when I do, I may just wish that I had a reason to slow my stride.
Today's Treasure: Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person... -Proverbs 3:27, The Message