Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Room Of One's Own

If you want to see me get so angry that my skin melts off in a puddle of fury and my teeth grind down to stumps and my reply comes out like I'm breathing acid-laced fire, say something like this to me:

"You don't need your own room; you've got the kitchen!"

Fortunately, no one's ever been foolhardy enough to say that outright, but I've sensed that sentiment lurking beneath the surface a few times, and that was enough to make me just about belch flames at the offender.

When we bought this house, my one requirement was a room of my own. Not my own bedroom, and definitely NOT the kitchen - I wanted a room that was mine, with a door on it and a lock and places to keep things that sticky, little fingers wouldn't touch, that I didn't have to share with anybody. I imagined such a room as a combination craft room/library/place to relax. I would decorate the room to have the feel of a spa room, where you walk in and instantly breathe slower, because you are relaxing already. And at the end of the day, I could retreat there for some quality time with myself, a good book, and a bowl of ice cream.

I might as well have wished for a room full of pixie dust and thousand-dollar bills. I got the square footage, technically, but I never got the room that I wanted. I never got the Sanctuary. Over the years, my room has been, at various times, a craft room, a computer room, a toy room, a guest room, Tim's room, an office, and a tv room. Several of these themes have reappeared more than once, making this room the most versatile room in the house. But rarely has it been MY room.

Even in the moments when the room was neither playroom nor guest room, it's been hard to stake my claim. Yes, it might be called "mom's craft room" but as soon as my back is turned, the squatters move in, bringing with them their toys and legos and candy wrappers. At one point, Ryan suggested that I keep the door locked and don't let anyone in. Which would be a fine idea if the room was empty, but I don't think I'll be able to find serenity in a locked room while the kids are banging on the door. After the kids go to bed, Ryan and I finally have some time to talk without being interrupted, something that we have grown quite fond of doing (I know, crazy), so that also precludes the quality time with myself and a good book.

The room is currently Ryan's office. He needed a place to work, and it made sense for him to move into that room, since it was, by that time, only being used as a tv room and giant garbage dump. I do most of my writing/time-wasting while sitting on the couch, and when I need to escape the kids, I go into my bedroom. If I think they'll find me there, I have been known to lay down on the floor on the far side of the bed, so they won't see me. I would like to repeat, once again, that there is no dignity in motherhood. I would hide under the bed, but I don't fit.

Hiding behind my bed to escape my children is a far cry from the relaxing, inviting room that would be my Sanctuary, but I think the idea was impractical to begin with. Sure, I could have the perfectly decorated room, complete with soft Enya music in the background, and that would be very relaxing - but when would I ever, ever use it? What I should have asked for, all those years ago when we were house shopping, was a room of my own AND some alone time every day to enjoy it. Although pixie dust and thousand-dollar bills might have been more realistic.


rachel said...

I actually have one of those rooms, and I can claim it as being mostly my own, but it has become the catch all for all the crap from my parent's house, and thus, I hate the room and never use it. My goal is to get it cleaned out and make it mine again. All it has been so far is a glorified closet.

Al.O. said...

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Luisa said...

I laughed so hard at this Emily. I loved the idea of you laying on the floor on the far side of the bed so your kids wouldn't see you. There's been a few times when my kids come inside yelling for me; I don't say a word, they go upstairs and I get a little excited b/c I'm downstairs and know that I have a couple more minutes of peace before they bug me!

Shelley said...

He he. I'll remember when I'm married and house-shopping to ask for the thousand dollar bills and pixie dust. Although, If I'm getting paid to write by that time, I may be able to use that excuse as leverage.