I had a "discussion" with my husband the other night over my need to have a room to call my own. No, I don't mean in the Virginia Woolf sense. I'm not looking for a space where I can sit and lock out the world and create paragraphs and stanzas that will set the masses a-swooning. I just mean a space where I make all the decisions--where I decide the color of paint on the walls, the kind of furniture to tuck into the corner, the books to arrange on the shelves, the hangings on the wall. And then I don't want anyone touching anything or making complaints or suggestions or rearranging or saying, "Hmm.... I was thinking maybe . . ." No. I just want something that's mine all mine all mine.
The "problem" is that this isn't my house. It's our house. And I have a husband who has opinions--often very strong ones. And I can't say, "Well, that's just too bad. Just close your eyes when you come in here from now on."
I was telling my mother about this, and she said she completely understood. And she also understood how it's an "and never the twain shall meet" sort of situation.
When my oldest son was little, he once asked me, "Why is everything in Grandpa's house brown?" I looked around and realized he was right. My parents' house was decorated in shades of brown thanks to my father's collection of antiques--most of which my mother gave away or sold after he died. It wasn't that she was trying to erase all memories of him. It was that those had been his things, his idea of home decorations. Hers? The delicate little cups and saucers she'd accumulated from various antique shows over the years. Only you didn't see those cups and saucers because the butter molds and trenchers and hog scrapers overshadowed them. Mom knows what it's like to have one spouse fill the house while the other sits by and shrugs and says, "Fine, whatever."
"That's what my purse has always been to me," Mom said.
And I finally got it.
When I was a kid, my mom would go ballistic on any of us kids who dared open her purse for so much as a mint. "That's mine," she would growl.
Just last week, I did the same to one of my kids. "I just wanted to see if you have any mints," he said. "Then ask me," I told him. "That purse is mine."
I also have this cupboard. I've told all of my kids there is no reason ever why they should feel the need to open it.
Okay, so it's not a room of my own. But I do own what's in there . . . just like my purse. And as long as I'm sharing a house with someone--five someones, and I'm grateful for every one of them and wouldn't trade a mansion of my own for the absence of any of them--a cupboard and a purse will do just fine.
Do you have a space of your own? If not, how do you manage without one? If so, what is that space?