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Yesterday morning one of the moms’ groups I belong to offered a Mom’s Morning Out (read: free babysitting) and I jumped at the chance. Now, I had no idea exactly how I would spend that time, but guilt-free free-time when you’re the budget-minded mother of a toddler is precious. Plus, the Little Butt loves playing with kids and going to “class,” so it was a win-win.

I ended up dropping him off and heading straight for Barnes & Noble. There I ordered a tall coffee, found a cozy chair in the café, and sat down to plan out my week. While this might sound boring to some, it just may have been the highlight of my month.

Rewind four years, and every Monday morning found me sitting in the leather armchair at Borders (how I miss that store, my second home), still sipping coffee and planning out my week, often with a friend, as I mentioned in this post. Even then, it was a bright point in my week. I just didn’t realize how sacred that time could be until it became a rare option.

I don’t think anyone ever made clear to me how lonely being the mother of just one child could make you. Some days I feel trapped, a slave to my extremely loved son’s basic needs for care, learning, and safety.Lonely motherhood on scatteredfashionista.wordpress.com

One would think, as the oldest of eight children, that I might have learned this from my mother. But by the time I was old enough to consider these possibilities, she also had a built-in babysitter: yours truly. While my mom took her role seriously and has sacrificed more than any woman I know, she still knew the pleasure of sneaking out for a two-hour shopping run or breakfast with a friend.

I can hear her whispering in my ear, This, too, shall pass.

Last week, when the Little Butt awoke and I realized that I would again miss a happily anticipated event due to another childhood cold, I sat at the kitchen table and cried—cried!—for thirty minutes. Even as I sat there—and even now as I write this—I felt ashamed by my weakness. But I also felt angry. Why did no one ever tell me how many times this would happen, preparing me for this stage of my life? And how did I enter motherhood so blindly?

All I know is this: I would not trade this loneliness as a mother for a full life without my son. And the loneliness I often feel can be used to make me stronger, and also more aware of and sensitive to the other lonely people in my life—perhaps those who are lonely because they have no little one to demand their attention, or no partner to share their life with. Sometimes I forget that there are even those who have never yet learned how to be a friend, and suffer from the supreme loneliness of having no one.

Yes, motherhood can be lonely, but it is a loneliness that I choose.