In Virginia Woolf’s famous quote, she argues, “A woman must have money and a room of her own”. She says this is a prerequisite “if she is to write fiction.” I agree. But I think it is also a condition for sound mental health.
Currently, I’m lacking both and feeling the effect. It will be tricky to find a solution to the money problem, but it is something we will tackle soon. With some careful consideration and a whole lot of Pinterest, we realised that we could improve the room situation now.
I’m getting desperate for my own space. Somewhere to sit and scribble. To ponder and produce. To just be. I’ve even considered rehoming the tumble dryer so I can enjoy the tiniest of nooks under the stairs. Ultimately, we realised that this was not even a medium-term solution and we would soon need to rethink. The only possible solution (that didn’t require planning permission) was to swap around the upstairs room. Again.
To be clear, Little Chick has not lost out in this arrangement. He has a different set-up but just as much, if not, more usable space. But while things are in flux the house is chaotic and messy. And he really cannot cope with that. I’m not a big fan of it either and find it a trying time. But I am privy to and able to see the big picture. I can envisage the result and sense the satisfaction of completion. Little Chick, understandably, cannot. And it is affecting him and his behaviour greatly.
We have undertaken a lot of DIY and reorganising in the past eighteen months, simply because as our daily lives have found a rhythm and routine, we have needed to make changes to ensure safety, efficiency, and calm. But the transition time is hellish. Little Chick is clearly disorientated. Whether he thinks that he is as dispensable as our belongings and furniture I don’t know. We have tried to reassure him that this is not the case, that this is his forever home with his forever family. But words aren’t enough sometimes. We try to show him, hoping that our actions will affirm our good (and long-term) intentions. He has returned to his original bedroom, though the toys that cluttered it have been rehomed in a downstairs playroom. It is a room fit for sleeping, dressing, and reading. And that’s it. This clarity helps him. The blurred lines of mixed purposes and multiple users confuses him. His name is on the door; he has staked ownership. We have added wall stickers of Hey Duggee to match his bedding and create a loose theme. Slowly, it is becoming clear that this room is his. That the playroom is principally his. That the many changes (and, boy, there have been many) have all been made to make it better for him. This is the only change to date that hasn’t been directly for him, though his needs have firmly underpinned all ideas.
To me, a room of one’s own feels decadent, outrageously luxurious. But it is necessary self-care. I need to remember that to be the best parent for Little Chick, I need to feel happy, safe, and well too. It might take me some time to reconcile the heart and head but, like everything we do, hopefully I, and Little Chick, will see that it has been done in the belief that it is ultimately the best thing for him.