A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire...
My Own Room
In a shady corner of our back yard sits a cedar playhouse. My husband and I built it several summers ago, the dreamy kids’ cottage for which our sons had long begged.
It boasted a small porch, working windows and lights, shelves and even a mailbox. We mounted pegboard along two walls and from it hung tool racks and storage bins. It was so cool, but once theirs, it was quickly neglected. I was crushed.
Maybe I just hoped it'd be a space they'd make their own, allowing us some distance on occasion. My sons and I are tightly connected, but they sometimes want more of me than I can give, and I'm on a perennial hunt for independence.
Watching the playhouse gather dust and cobwebs and the love notes I'd hung inside fade away in the sunlight streaming through those real windows, I began to see it as a reflection of me as mother. I am grateful to be able to stay at home to raise my boys. I adore them. But the past nine years have depleted me in unexpected ways, and I feel pale, creaky and in need of tending.
Without telling the kids, I bought a cheap but sturdy desk and a handsome rug on deep discount, moving them into the house to replace the tools and Batman chairs. I hung a portrait I painted when I was pregnant with my oldest, an oil of a faceless woman in repose, and mounted a bulletin board I'd made from the corks of special wines my husband and I had drunk over the years, relics of a different time.
Reminders of the children were everywhere. They painted the walls one day when I'd sent them out to "play in that house!" and be creative; Best Friends Forever is my favorite bit. Stickers printed with gibberish and their names memorialize the day they snuck away with the label maker and went wild decorating. Broken bits of colorful chalk still sit in the chalkboard's concave rim. But sitting in there for the first time, I felt giddy. The humble room was my own, a place for my imagination to soar and my pen to fly.
Several weeks passed before the boys discovered my changes. "Hey! Mom got us a new rug and a desk for our playhouse." Gently I corrected them. "Sweeties, the house is now for me. You didn't use it, so I turned it into my writing spot." They seemed surprised, curious that I'd take back something I'd once given. But the reclamation felt powerful and right, a gift for myself.
My husband and several family members were amused by my glee. The playhouse? Wasn't it small? Weren't there bugs? I blushed momentarily in the face of those queries, my cheeks hot with self-consciousness. But determination to sate a true need stands strong in the face of skepticism.
I couldn't be happier with my compact studio. I'm at home, in my yard, lulled into peace by nature's quiet hum. The children are near and yet far, and in that space I can think, create and be Emily, the woman who is a mother but also much more. In there, I flourish. Independence becomes me.
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