family & parenting

Just one or two hours in that room of one’s own.

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I never wanted anyone to take care of me.

I can’t say that I never needed care, just that I never felt much of a need for it. Maybe I didn’t allow myself a desire for it? Hmm.

In childhood it was available in spurts, the care. My father was absent of the ability, or desire. My mother tried her best, but struggled with depression and her ability to care for herself. Maybe that is saying too much about her, or giving her too little credit. Good thing she doesn’t really understand the internet.

I don’t want to say fully that I learned to not expect it, because I remember early on rejecting it. I remember having no fear. I remember walking a half mile to the creek bed at five years, telling no one where I’d gone, not worried a bit about what might happen, fully expecting to come home whenever I wished and have no one even ask where I’d been for hours. My mother freaked, of course. Insert here many examples of my independence and my mother’s freak outs. She trained me to expect her reactions, but it took years before I understood what she was so worried about. (Funnily, or maybe not, all of the truly horrifying things that happened to me in childhood took place while in the care of supposed responsible adults, never in my absent minded adventures and wandering away.) Hmmm.

In my twenties I was pale and lovely (man, how I wish I’d understood that I was lovely. Oh well.) I lived in Miami, where being pale and lovely was a commodity. I made very little actual money on it, because I found it to be so embarrassing (insert incredibly brief modeling stint here), but I had some very interesting offers. I once had a man (repeatedly, he was a regular at the cafe’ in which I worked) offer me an apartment and a regular rotation of Mercedes (he was a dealer so I would have a different one every month or so) to have sex with him during the week and not tell his wife about it. I had an owner of a nightclub, a guy from France, offer me a ridiculous weekly salary in exchange for working a few nights a week at the club and fooling around with him after close. I was also not supposed to tell his wife. I was offered a boat by a German businessman, and a condo by a guy who just wanted me to be his girlfriend when he was in town on business. At least those two were not married.

I never once considered any of these crazy types of offers. I would like to say that I recognized many of the men I rejected as probable sociopaths, that I was smart enough to know better. But, I dated some dirt poor sociopaths, so throw that theory out.

I think I just didn’t want to trade my independence for money and comfort. (It may be worth mentioning that I had very very little of either of the latter).

Now, in my early thirties, I tried for a while to be a stay at home mom. I did it for eighteen months straight. I was terribly unhappy with about 60% of it. Babies are so freaking awesome, that it’s easy to lose yourself in them. However, when it’s just you and an infant for twelve hours of the day, you can go a bit nuts in your desire for adult conversation alone. And the truth of that job is, you have so few moments to yourself, that it is actually hard to find time to pee. I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t contributing enough to the household economy, but more than that I struggled just to find an hour in the week to be myself, the person I was before I was someone’s wife and someone else’s mother.

What the fuck am I getting at?

Every new decade seems to bring a new struggle with maintaining my autonomy within my personal relationships. I have lived with men, been married to them, and have always wanted to feel as though I was contributing in all of the modern ways. Be the contributions through finances, opinion, whatever.  That’s what I used to think the struggle was.

You know what? I was totally wrong. I’m looking at my life now. I’ve just turned forty. My son is almost five. I’m divorced. I’m engaged. I’m pregnant. I’m happy, and I’m spending a lot of commuting time thinking about how to maintain a balance once the baby arrives and I’m married again. You know what else? I think it will be super hard to be the kind of connected mother that I like to be, to support and nurture the bond in my marriage, and to work full time. But, I like all three of those things so I’m giving it a whirl. You know fucking what else, though? Even if I can balance all of that, if I don’t treat my creative mind with some care as well, I know I won’t pull it off. Fucking Virginia and her damned room! No wonder everything always fell apart.

My major creative outlet currently is making funny comments on my friend’s status updates and trying to entertain everyone with clever updates of my own. I think the truth is that if I can find that small amount of space and time in my own mind, I might just be able to pull this off.

Screw having someone pay all my bills. I just want that room when I can get it to myself, be alone with my thoughts, and make something.

Van only writes when things get crazy, she is inconsistent at best. Don't get hooked. She is otherwise busy being a mom, wife, professional tidying maven (yes, that's a thing for which people will pay money), and working at killing the cancer.

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2 Responses to “Just one or two hours in that room of one’s own.”

  1. I think we have even more in common than I originally thought. I love your post.

  2. Did I mention the 4th bedroom/”that room” in the house I looked at?

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