I need a place where I can hide,
Where no one sees my life inside,
Where I can make my plans, and write them down
So I can read them.
– “The Girl I Mean to Be” from The Secret Garden
During my junior year of college I studied in London for one semester. While just about every student at my college here in the states had a computer to write all of their papers, in London we had to write our papers by hand, pen and paper. This meant spending hours brainstorming, writing, and then rewriting a final copy, but it also allowed me the freedom to write anywhere in the city long before people carried around tiny laptops or tapped into coffee shop WiFi service.
My absolute favorite place to write was on a leather bench in front of The Bronte Sisters, a portrait by Patrick Branwell Bronte that hangs in The National Portrait Gallery. A framed print of this painting hangs in my own house, a reminder of a special time in my life and that bench in room twenty-four where I not only wrote essays critiquing the latest play to open in London’s West End, but wondered what my future held.
When I became a mother, my priorities radically shifted as well they should. But that nineteen year old girl staring up at the faces of talented young women writers never disappeared. I’ve spent time and energy creating a crafting area for my children, a desk area where Emma can complete her nightly homework, a cozy reading spot, a playroom. Every moment of my children’s lives has a designated location where it can play out perfectly, yet so many women have no place in their home that is just for them, where they can clear their minds, plan for the future, or simply just relax. In our new home I have an office, and I am working slowly on making it what I want it to be. Certainly I’m not saying that we all need to be like Mary Wollstonecraft and demand an entire room for our books and papers, although thank you, Mary, for putting into motion the movement that has changed the trajectory of my life. What I’m suggesting instead is that as mothers we need to claim a space – a moment – for ourselves in every day. Maybe you would love a reading corner, a small table to finally bring your sewing machine out of the basement, or even just 15 minutes to soak in a hot bubble bath at the end of a long day.
Do you have a “room of your own”? And what do you do there?