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A Room of Our Own


I suppose it was inevitable, which is why I wasn't that shocked when I suddenly started sobbing at my sewing machine this afternoon. It had been building for a few weeks, or even months.

I'd just wanted to make a small bag to hold the range of plastic carriers that seem to procreate the minute one crosses our threshold.  Simple.  Pattern found, fabric decided upon.  Easy. 

But sitting down and just getting on with it wasn't on the cards.  First, I had to clear away the basket of laundry, the pile of books, cars and tucks and the bag of roving piled high on my desk.  Then, I had to pick fabric paint off the the work surface as well as the 2 log cabin squares I'd finished for Ellis' quilt.  I then realised my good skein of white thread had wandered.  In such a small house, the wide expanse of my desk becomes so many things to each of us: a play ground, a dumping ground, a viewing point for a small boy. Ellis loves to climb up and go through my sewing supplies.  And they go everywhere.  Unorganised at the best of times, devastation is what usually greets me when I sit down to create these days.

And so I haven't been.  I have ignored my sewing machine for weeks and haven't bothered to crochet or knit anything recently.  I could blame the fact that if I even attempt to make anything, I can't find the hook/yarn/needle I need, because it has wandered away on short, 2-year-old sized legs. I finally start something and small hands come and 'help' the minute I sit down.  I can barely write any more, as the moment my fingers hit the keypad, other hands itch with a burning desire to "push buttons".

Its not his fault, I know.  Of course he wants to help his mama.  We cook together.  He helps clean.  We do laundry together.  Why shouldn't he be a part of this too?

I have tried to include him.  But it ends up requiring so much of my mama energy, I am left without  the creative energy to finish anything.  And energy is on short supply these days, as I struggle through the worst period of insomnia I have ever experienced and a rather uncomfortable and, quite frankly draining pregnancy.

After my tears subsided this afternoon, I spoke to a good friend about it all.  She said, quite matter of frankly, "You know what you need to do, Kat.  You have to move to a bigger house where you can have your own room to close the door to other things".  Essentially, I need a 'Room of One's Own'.

We all know the argument, don't we?  As women, as mothers we need a space to close off to the outside world to just be and create. We can only reach our full potential if we have the time, the space and the financial resources to do it.  Small hands have no place in the realm of art.

I do admit I dream of such a place.  It has white walls, with huge windows that overlook the sea.  There is a cappuccino machine and all the caramel digestives I can eat.  Hell, while I'm dreaming, it has a Chihuly chandelier as well.  I sit on the overstuffed corduroy sofa and dream and sketch away.

Its a beautiful dream, something I see in the very real lives of many of the creative women I admire. But a studio, or even a third bedroom doesn't really solve the problem, does it?  I think of this problem like a tree.  A landscape architect once told me that trees only grow their full potential of branches and height when they are planted alone in a park or other isolated position.  Only then do they look like the pictures in tree identification books.

I bet you can see where I am going with this.  They are beautiful and tall and spread as wide as their genes take them, but they lack the system that gives them sustainability.  The other trees to breed with.  The ecosystem that all works together to ensure a different kind of potential.  One that fits beautifully together, piece by piece.  

For some, maybe the isolation is necessary to create, but I see examples again and again of women who create with their family, in amongst their children, in snatches of moments, with few financial resources. It is not in spite of these things they create, but because of them.  Knee deep in life, they find their drive.

Of course, its not all or nothing. Closing off a bit of my space to make it inaccessible to a curious toddler is needed and a 'studio' clear out is in order.  But, fundamentally, I want him to be a part of my creativity, because he is so much of my inspiration and my drive.  I want him to participate in it.  I want him to learn to sew a button on and darn a sock.  I want him to see the things that fuel his parents passions and that possessions don't just appear out of nowhere.

And so, we have to learn together. To grow as an ecosystem where all of our needs are met and we are allowed to flourish. We have to learn to recognise our inherent differences, which includes realigning my understanding of what I can expect of a 2 and a half year old.  Forests take a long time to grow, but its worth it in the end.  

Tags: family

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