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.
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