Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Claiming Space


A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire...


A Room of Her Own

When I became a mother and knew that I had to write, Virginia Woolf was my inspiration. She wrote passionately about the need for women writers, to have “a room of their own,” where they could create without distraction. However, as a mother of four children—a boy, a girl, and a set of twins—I quickly came to the realization that a room of my own, projecting peace and serenity, was not to be my destiny.

If anything, my room exuded the complete opposite vibe. When I had three kids in pull ups and diapers, my bed doubled as the changing area with the constant aroma of poop in the air. Today, my twins still take naps on my bed and my daughter has decided that her clothes are better off in my closet, leaving little room for mine. My son's precious soccer gear is also in my room where he believes its magical powers keep his things safe from his younger brothers.

I have come back down to earth and tweaked my obsession with the ethereal Virginia Woolf by adding a little of Alice Walker’s realism to the mix. Walker offered a gentle—okay, not so gentle—criticism of Woolf with a social and cultural critique that highlighted the tenacity and vision of women like renowned 18th century poet, slave, and mother, Phyllis Wheatley. Walker pointed out that Wheatley “owned not even herself, much less a room” and yet her voice still rang clear and true.

With that internal debate settled, I decided to embrace the figurative, instead of the literal, idea of space, by choosing my favorite lounge chair as my first metaphorical room. I sat poolside in my dollar store floppy hat and flip-flops, while watching my children take swimming lessons. Instead of stressing about my unconventional place, I simply took in the joyful sight of my children and their friends splashing around like so many colorful pebbles, transcendent against the bright blue water.

The diversity of their beauty inspired me to write my first essay about African American motherhood. Within my newfound serenity, I remembered my daughter’s insistent questions about why her skin color was darker than mine. The next summer, in that same chair, I also penned my first short story, inspired by my mother’s account of integrating their neighborhood pool so many years ago.

Maybe someday I will have the time and money to make myself a proper room with a “lock and a key” like Virginia Woolf recommended. But until that time I will be content with my pool chair, car, soccer chair, and yes, even my actual room, full of mismatched socks, LEGOs and writing pieces in various stages of completion.


Join our After Page One series. We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude. The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio so readers can learn more about you and your projects. 

Margaret Auguste, is a writer, librarian and a burgeoning family therapist, who remains constantly inspired and amazed by her four children. She has written extensively about the essential role that motherhood plays within education and culture.

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I liked the idea of the literal vs. the figurative. Too often, I find that I am caught up in wishing for a perfect place or time to write and I see from reading your piece that waiting for what might never come is wasting valuable time and that ideas and stories are right around me.
I love writing outside while watching the kids play but find I can't do that for much of the year because we live in Massachusetts. Like you, our home is too small and too full for me to have my own room, so in winter my figurative "room"--although I never saw it that way until reading this piece- is comprised of headphones, a laptop, a fuzzy blanket, and preferably a sleeve of peppermint cookies. I especially loved how you ended with "writing pieces in various stages of completion." Ditto!
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of expectation vs. reality using the quote from Virginia Woolf as well as the one from Alice Walker. I do think this way sometimes, but I have learned to understand that the way others live will not always be similar to the way I do. I liked the way that this allowed us to look into your character through your experiences with your family and your writing.
Hey, my mom wrote this and it was rad when she talked about all of us and it was great and it was nice and fun.
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