“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” Virginia Woolf wrote.
Of course, the subtext here is that a girl’s gotta have her own bank account and her own space if she’s going to do something–anything–big.
Most working mothers that I know would be exuberantly happy with a Port-a-Potty-sized space to call their own and enough pocket change for a Starbucks break. That… and time. Time to think. Time to compose. Time to roll around a thought in your head, and then in your mouth, to figure out if you’ve created something vaguely original.
Virginia Woolf didn’t have any children. There wasn’t room for them. She didn’t have any mental space for their diapers, their empty bellies, their heart-breakingly sweet, soulful smiles. Virginia had her writing and Virginia had her tender, indulgent husband, Leonard.
I’m not gonna lie–it’s agonizing to love one little creature so much and yet never have time for myself or my passion. (Laundering onesies and organizing baby toys is not my life’s calling.) As a newlywed with a baby, I literally can’t afford to sit at a computer and compose my thoughts. The baby is at my knees, grinning, tugging, begging for more lemonade (sans the vodka, of course).
This means that until nursery school, I’ve passed over the computer for the kitchen. Prose is out, pickled veggies are in. The perfect paragraph has been usurped by Tuesday night pot roast.
But, you know what? There is a certain zen in making the perfect lemon square, baking a golden, 3-layer cake and then letting the baby lick the beaters. She can toddle over, join me at the stove and the space that used to be mine is now ours.
The words will always be there, won’t they? The baby, however, will soon just walk away.