Virignia Woolf emphasized female independence in her novel A Room of One’s Own. More importantly, she emphasized an individual’s need for her own room.
As women, we live in a society in which we are expected to be mothers. What this means is we are expected to put our children’s needs before our own; to think of them at all times above ourselves; to accommodate our houses for their curious minds and sticky hands; to budget for tiny shirts and strollers and put back the gorgeous strappy sandals at Macys; to skip a meal because the baby has to eat.
When Allen and I bought our first home, I was excited at the idea that I had three rooms to which I must grant a purpose. Apart from the obvious use of the master bedroom and necessary guest room to house our huge families and a plethora of out-of-town friends, we had an extra room. After a lengthy conversation about how each of us needs our own space, the subsequent movement of the dude-stuff into the garage (sorry, honey), that extra room became my office and my sanctuary.
I plugged in my desktop computer, hung my English degree on the wall (and Allen’s too, I’m not that territorial), filled five bookshelves full of novels (then piled the rest of my library into a corner), set the picture of my great-grandmother onto the corner of my desk next to the framed Carrie Bradshaw snapshot. I piled my many of Cosmos, Vogues, Marie Claire’s, Glamours and Elles beside my desk and displayed my very first published article. I stepped back and smiled. There. My office. A room of my own.
As friends and family dropped by to check out the new digs, I was eager to reveal my room. After showing off, pride gleaming, they all had the same question: “This is great but what are you going to do when you have kids? Won’t this be the nursery?”
Each time, I just shrugged and showed them the master bathroom.
Later that evening, I sat down and began brainstorming this article and what I am going to do the day I have to turn my office into a nursery.
My office is more than just a room. It is where I do what I love to do—write. It is where I keep my most beloved friends—books. It is where my motivation is hung—the degree on the wall. It is where I miss my grandmother. It is where I gain inspiration from the people I look up to—authors, writers, Carrie. It is where I find myself and never lose myself. So, what will I do when it is time to make room for a baby?
I want to be a mother. I always have. However, the problem is: what kind of mother do I want to be? This question came to mind as I was trying to solve a problem I was a couple years away from facing; when I have a baby, I will not turn my office into the nursery.
Now, I don’t have kids yet, so some may take this article with a grain of salt and a snort, maybe some snide comments. Maybe I will look back on this article, fruit loops in my hair and bags under my eyes, and laugh at my younger self and my lack of realism. I welcome that moment. If I could possibly ever love something more than writing, then I cannot wait to embrace it. We all have our own definition of what it means to be a great mother. Here is mine:
I will live with myself, my identity, forever. I will look in the mirror and see the same face, morning after morning. My child will move out when they are 18 and begin a journey of self-discovery without me. They will fall in love and have children of their own and someday ponder this same question as I am right now. It will be my job, then, to help them figure out how to find themselves, how to be successful and how to be an individual. It will be my job to model to them right and wrong.
I want to model for my children what it means to love yourself, to put yourself and your needs first above anyone else’s, even your own children. That’s right, I said it: I will put my needs before my children’s. This doesn’t mean I will neglect my children; I will feed them when they are hungry and bathe them with they are dirty. But how can I teach my children what it means to love, if I don’t love myself first? How will my children know what it means to follow their passion if I do not show them how to be passionate? What better ways than to model passion through my passion for writing? How will my children know what it is like to chase dreams and have ambitions, if they do not see me chasing mine?
And what if I have a daughter? Will she know that it is okay to love herself? It will be my responsibility to teach her how to love herself. It will be my responsibility to show her how to show others to love her and treat her with respect. It will be my job to make sure she knows what it looks like to be independent and strong.
There may come a day when I am writing and my children want to go to the park. “Mom is writing,” I will say. “We can go another day.” They will moan and groan and maybe throw a fit or two. But they will remember a mother who found importance in herself, who put herself first and took care of her ambitions and they will do the same. Some mother’s may call me selfish. They may say I am unfit to raise children. They will definitely say I am naive and think, “Can’t wait to see what she has to say when she finally has kids.” But, let me remind you that these children will someday grow into adults and need guidance in a world of confusion and cruelty. Maybe, just maybe, with a little confidence, self-esteem and self-identification, they will do okay.