Today is my first day working in my new office.
One of the features of our new house that delighted me was a bright, spacious room for an office on the main floor. I’ve been working from home for years, but tucked away in a corner of the basement guest room. Or squeezed onto a sofa amidst piles of laundry. So the idea of a Real Live Office – with the big writing desk and all my books gathered together and windows that gaze out on green trees and blue sky – is a dream come true.
Of course, the books are still in boxes on the floor, and the writing desk is currently piled with photo albums, and the view out the windows is shrinking daily due to spindly weeds winding their way skyward. But the hope of a room with a view – a room of my own, a room for my work – still quickens my heart.
In the years that I’ve been working from home, juggling parenting and paid work, I’ve learned the importance of claiming a space for myself. No matter how cramped it was, that corner of the guest room was mine. Aside from the occasional spin in the office chair, no kids were allowed. I needed space to read and write and think, separate from my world of mothering.
Looking back now, I understand why my own mother needed her den downstairs, her space apart. As a family grows and spreads to every corner of the house, it’s important for a parent whose days are spent primarily at home to carve out a sanctuary. Whether a corner for crafting, a nook for reading, a desk for the computer or a basement for the treadmill, spaces all our own are essential. I find that my breath slows, my shoulders sink and my whole body relaxes into a room free from toys and chores and to-do lists.
Many wise women have written about the need of a room of one’s own. But for me it has been one of those truths I had to learn by living – that inner life needs outer space to flourish. The deepest work of my heart desires a physical place to call home. It doesn’t need to be grand or glamorous; it simply needs to be set apart.
Ironically, the one feature my office currently lacks is a door. (I’m hoping my handy husband will remedy that by year’s end.) So whenever our sitter is here, I’m still tucked away working in the corner of a bedroom. But even on afternoons like this one, when I only got to steal a few minutes while the babies were napping, time and space away recenters my soul.
A bit of good work gets done here; nothing life-changing, nothing flashy. But bit by bit, I find myself through this work and these words. Mothering’s daily dervish – whirling, twirling, swirling – leaves me exhausted if I don’t pause to ponder. Spending time away from my wee ones, even when it’s under the same roof, is a spiritual practice of parenting I’ve come to cherish.
And this room with a view gives me a fresh perspective – a longer, wider, sometimes sunnier view – on life outside its walls.