by Tami Richards
There’s a nook off my kitchen that I’ve been trying to claim for myself for over twenty years now. While raising four children, I’d shared that ten by twelve foot space with kids doing homework, playing video games, making Lego masterpieces, and searching the Internet. I thought I’d properly and fully claimed it last summer when my youngest child reached adulthood and I felt that I was free to do as I wished with the house. My husband and I replaced the two windows and laid down beautiful new blonde bamboo flooring. I happily painted the walls, and moved my bookshelves in, loading them up to bursting. I was bubbling over with excitement as I was finally able to organize my own space.
Instead of using a writing desk for the main furniture, I decided to build a heavy-duty craft table for my grandchildren and I to share. The table was a big mistake. I was no longer making the room my own, the craft table made the room everybody’s. I invalidated my own needs. After the room’s completion, I did not spend much time writing in my new office for I’d done the unforgivable and I knew it; I’d forsaken myself.
By the time that I’d finally figured out my error and came to understand that for me to be happy and creative, my office needed to be my own office not a shared craft room, I lost ground on possession. My adult daughter hit a rough spot in her life and she moved back home, bringing my granddaughters with her. Being that they were moving from a fully furnished three-bedroom house it was impossible to find space in our small home for all of their belongings. A barrage of housewares, clothes, games and toys took up the entire floor space of my office.
Being the consummate adjuster that I am, the person who arranges the needs of others to a place above her own, I carried my laptop into our bedroom and set up office on an old desk that I’d set up in front of our dresser. This worked out for me for several months until my husband was switched from swing shift to night shift. Because he needs to sleep before work, my time alone in my bedroom had gone out the window. At this time, I had nowhere else to go but to remove the long ago boxed and stored treasures of my children’s childhood from the storage loft above the garage and hoist my daughter’s and granddaughter’s belongings up in their stead.
Then began the internal battle of the mature and wise woman with the self-sacrificing and meek grandmother. What I have is a war between “why should I move and store all her stuff for her,” and “she’s going through a tough adjustment, my grandchildren need their things.” The bottom line, if I allowed myself to reach it, was that I needed to reclaim that space for my own well being and I needed to take action to get it. I’ve been moving and adjusting things in that ten by twelve foot space for over twenty years in futile attempts to claim it as my own. Having accomplished that, I needed to maintain it and start putting my own needs above those of others.
Yes, I’d brought it on myself. I’d allowed it to happen by not being insistent enough, by not explaining my needs, my rights, my value. The fault lies squarely with me. It became time for me to clean up that room and claim my space. It took a lot of time and energy that I didn’t think that I could muster, but I am typing these words while sitting in my own space.
Tami Richards is a writer of articles and essays concerning women's history, health and social issues. Visit her blog at http://tamilkrueger.blogspot.com/
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