with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
It’s blue and squat, with a wide top drawer, and a row of drawers on the right side. World War I era. The owner of the antique store where I found it was happy to let it go for a song—$60, if I recall correctly.
“Can you believe someone painted it blue?” he said. “Ruined it.”
I am all for colorful ruin. The blue is lovely, and is the only reason I could afford to buy the desk. Inside the top drawer, someone carved the initial “W” and “1914.” That charms me.
Virginia Woolf wrote about the necessity of a woman having “a room of one’s own.” Space is scarce. I dream of a room of my own—not a bedroom, but a room for writing, for creating. A room with images I love, tacked up all over the walls.
For now, I settle for a desk of my own.I had hoped by this point in my life that I would have my own workroom, where the desk could live, take center stage. Not yet, but still, I hope, even as I work on my bed with my laptop topping my lap, so I can be close to my ailing old dog, curled in my covers. There will be time for the blue desk, for that room.
Many of my work-at-home comrade-mothers have to make do with less than rooms of their own. My dear friend Gayle claimed a shallow two-doored closet as her space at her home in England—painting the back wall a soothing aqua, sliding a desk into the closet, and adding paper-lantern lights. Framed pictures, including a black-and-white shot of her and me in a play in graduate school, and a photo of her husband and her, adorn the aqua wall. This is very much her place as a woman and a writer, not as a mother. When I visited her recently, I slept in that room and left the doors of her closet-office open. I smiled each morning when I woke up to the aqua and the cheerful lanterns. Yes, I thought, this is what we need. This is a must. Not a want, but a need.
Working from home as a single mother is a balancing act requiring patience and forethought. Deadlines can easily become it-died-lines when children get sick and pets get sick and life messes with our best worker-bee intentions. Creativity is a finicky bird, easily startled and prone to flights of absence. All the more reason to be surrounded by a few colors, a few cherished objects, that remind us of who we are, of who we’ve been, of what we are capable of outside of the realm of good mothering.
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