A Room of Your Own

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?

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  • My crafting desk is in my walk-in closet at the moment (odd, but it really is!) and I’m hoping that will change soon. In other homes, my husband and I each had our own office. Strange how life goes back and forth with every move.

    And I have fond memories of the National Gallery too! It was the first place I saw actual original works by da Vinci and Raphael.

  • mereGoddess

    I absolutely LOVED this piece. As you listed the things that you had done for your children I was mentally checking them off in my head. Check to the craft area. Check to the toy, reading and homework areas. As you got to the finale, the fact that there was no place for you, I remembered what Oprah said yesterday. “Put yourself on the list.” You know the one you keep regarding what everyone needs? The gifts, the soap, the activities to pick them up from or sign them up for. It really struck home with me that I am NOT on that list nor do I have a place that is just for me or a moment that is just mine. I mean have moments. The ones between classes, while waiting for one of the kids in the parking lot, in between cooking meals, or while they are playing in the bath are all moments in which I try to slip in something, but usually that something is making a list or paying a bill. I am going to TRY to make spot in my home my own. A place to write or read or daydream. Thank you for this lovely reminder.

  • Nikki @ Mommy Factor

    I use to have a room. I’d write (on paper) whenever I wanted. My creativity flowed freely. Now as a mom with a nosey toddler, I don’t have my own room and very little time to boot. Anywhere I go, my wants to go also.

    One day I hope to have my own room again or at least my own section of the apartment 🙂

  • Eryn/Leighbra

    I really enjoyed this post, Amy. I think 1 reason I have been staying up so late the last year is that it’s the only time that’s just mine. I can run whatever I want on Netflix (Law & Order Criminal Intent, thanks much) & write & read & chat with friends. The other 22 hours of the day? That’s for everyone else.

    I need to find a place & time in my house where I can reflect inward, instead of projecting all my love & energy outward. Of course moms never complain about all that projecting, but dreaming isn’t complaining, is it?

    (My husband has a tool room AND a pile of hobbies in the livingroom. Time to usurp a little space) 😉

  • Eryn/Leighbra

    If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake rather than for our own. ~Charlotte Bronte

    These were what your post sent me to find:

    I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. ~Emily Bronte


    I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading: It vexes me to choose another guide. ~Emily Bronte

    Quotes tucked away in the back of my mind, waiting for someone to pull them back out. Thanks 🙂

  • I do have a room of my own, but I have yet to make it “my own”. I have an office, but more often than not it becomes the place where we toss everything when unexpected company comes or where we put all the presents for Christmas. I’d love in the new year to add some touches that make it cozy and to keep all the clutter from ending up there only to be removed MUCH later. Thanks for the reminder of how important “space” for myself truly is.

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