When Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One's Own in the early 20th century, she was literally talking about a room. To yourself. To write, or even, just to think. She didn't have kids, though. If she did, she may have called it A Corner of One's Own ... please? Or, The Bathroom to Myself. Just Give Me a Friggin' Minute!
Today, we tend to hear the word "spaces" instead of "rooms." Watch HGTV for a half-hour (I do -- often. Their tactics of delayed gratification are genius), and you'll hear designers refer to a living room, bedroom, or kitchen as a "space." Our houses, our offices, our cars ... they are all spaces. Americans like space. Moms, despite what larger society would have you believe, like space. Want space, desperately. Need it, if we're going to be good moms.
I used to have a lot of time and space to myself. I was an only child until age eight when my brother was born. I did a lot of solitary daydreaming, reading, watching El Debarge videos. When I was a teacher, I had time and my whole apartment to myself after school until my husband got home. I had summer and winter breaks. Then I had my kid, and, suddenly, all the spaces around me were filled with the sounds of a little person's needs and wants, not to mention his toys, swing, bouncy seat, exersaucer, and pack-n-play. I loved him dearly, had moments of utter joy and hilarity, and yet I felt confined, holed up, anxious, alone. I felt I was captive to an adorable little tyrant who dictated my day according to his whims and desires.
When I went back to full-time work after a year and a half home, I savored time to myself, spaces to myself. In my car, I listened to NPR or music of my choice, and had thoughts that didn't relate to baby food. I occasionally got the chance to go out to lunch and enjoy adult conversation while eating a grilled chicken sandwich, or I ate my peanut butter and jelly in a quiet room. I drank coffee at my desk while glancing at the day's news. I went to doctor's appointments, the grocery store, the bathroom by myself. I had my own space.
Eventually, my mental and physical exhaustion got the better of me, though, and the novelty of new space wore off. Through circumstances not in my power, I became a stay-at-home mom for a second time. How was I going to adjust to the lack of space for myself?
Over the past few weeks, it has occurred to me that my blog has become a very real space for me to inhabit. Now, when I'm in my car alone -- a rare occurrence -- I don't feel the same sense of freedom I used to feel. If I make my way through the supermarket or library without my children, I am content to have the moments to myself, but I don't feel as desperate for them. I crave them less often, and I think that's because I've found a portable space just for me.
On my blog, I can play with widgets, photos, posts; I can joke around with smart and like-minded women in comments' sections; I can have something that's mine and mine alone. (I wish I could say the same for the sleek boxes of French cookies I buy or the red wine I lust after when I have two crying kids to contend with.)
A couple of my friends who read my blog have asked me, How do you find the time when you're home with kids all day? I don't really know the answer. I make it, here and there. It's important enough to me. I may get overwhelmed by the mildew in my bathtub or the dishes in the sink, but I don't get overwhelmed by my blog. It's something by me, for me. It's an escape from the mundane through Mommiseration.
I know I'm not alone. Stacia at Fluffy Bunnies has two toddlers and a newborn baby, and yet she still manages time to write funny and heartfelt pieces on her site. The same goes for Christine at Coffees and Commutes and Leslie at Five to Nine, who work full-time jobs, raise kids, and manage two to three posts per week. Or Sarah and Jen at Momalom, who navigate the demands of three children along with their blogging and tech-savvy existence.
We all write, I believe, because these spaces entertain us, show off our interior lives, and allow us to have some degree of control in a life that awards us very little, despite how hard we seek.
I am happy to share my space with you, reader.
Jana Llewellyn tries to make the best of stay-at-home motherhood on her blog, An Attitude Adjustment. She also teaches English part-time at her local community college.
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