A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolfe wrote that ’a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’. I haven’t finished reading her entire essay yet but I feel smarter and more emancipated simply by owning it.  My copy is kept on my bedside table right next to Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, another book I haven’t read. I have started Salman’s masterpiece 6 times and I really think that if Vintage Press could publish an edition with illustrations by Lauren Child, I would actually finish it.

Mamamia recently published one of my blog posts – an incident that caused great excitement and then emotional chaos at home.

You see, I have an excel spreadsheet of our four children’s activities (it’s the only way I can remember to take the right child to the right place on the right day with the right bag – we’ve had a few mishaps. Apparently my 7 year old daughter Prima does not play U6 boys football on a Thursday). Once a week, when Prima learns the piano, I have a 25 minute window in which to blog.

This is my time and it makes me incredibly happy. It’s like eating a whole box of Lindt balls (the original kind, before they got all fancy) without feeling sick or guilty afterwards.

Except that recently I did feel guilty.  When Mamamia published my post, I tried to respond to some of the comments from people who were kind enough to read it and offer their own thoughts. I tried to email a few friends with the link to the piece, asking them to hit the “Like” button, to create the false impression that I have a wide readership. I tried to think about what I would like to write next.

My children are like baby sharks and the thoughts in my head that are not about them, are like blood in the water. They smelt my distraction, quickly circled and went in for the kill. For example, Newborn (aged only 17 months) has learned how to turn the computer off at the plug point. In the last 2 weeks he has perfected a continuous whinge that sounds like a cross between a swarm of mosquitoes and a fog horn (it’s hard to imagine, I know – but it is impossible to renew your car insurance with that noise in the background, let alone blog).

I finally realised that between:

– school runs (how long could it take to load the car? – as long as Tercero (aged 2) wants);

– homework (an exercise in heavy sighs and multilateral conflict mediation);

– cooking with Newborn attached to my leg;

– tidying up with both my U3’s attached to both my legs; and

– comfort settling (shush-patting for 30 minutes so that Newborn naps for 40 minutes)

there was no time in my life. There is no time to do the 25 minute blog either, now that Newborn is mobile and insists on reorganising the piano teacher’s extensive CD collection.

We have several rooms in our house, but there is not one room “of one’s own” where one could sit on one’s own – I wee with an entire committee that decides how much toilet paper I get.

I understand what Virginia Woolfe was saying about how the lack of education and poverty has denied women the freedom to write.  But I am as educated as Husband and I am as independently wealthy as he is. By that I mean I am as co-dependently mortgaged as he is and my consent to this precarious but not uncommon situation was fully informed. There are rooms in my life Virginia but no space.

For the first time in a long time, the life I have chosen made me feel frustrated, then unfairly annoyed at my children, then angry with myself for feeling unfairly annoyed at them, then guilty for feeling unfairly annoyed and guiltier for actually wanting a room of my own. Oh Virginia, Newborn has woken up again. So that room, your essay and my writing shall have to wait.

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About Shankari Chandran

Six years ago we returned home from London to Sydney with our four young children and life has been chaos and comfort chocolate ever since.
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3 Responses to A Room of One’s Own

  1. Reema says:

    Oh mama Mia!!!!!! The things that a mother goes thru…….feel for u……next time u feel so frustrated just pack up the kids n come right over…….

  2. Keren says:

    Were you thinking of me when you wrote this?! With 3 children under 5 (youngest being 12 weeks) I feel entirely incapable of doing anything that requires more than about 10 minutes of continuous concentration. Thus my addiction to Bejeweled Blitz. As an ex-lawyer, ex-voracious reader, ex-dabbler in painting, I crave the time, space and ability to do something entirely for me, just for a few hours and although I shouldn’t wish my life away, I’m counting down the days until this happens (although currently no real end in sight).

  3. Tara says:

    I am not surprised you have a spreadsheet! I can barely keep track of two library books and which day is PE day for each of my TWO children. Homework is just starting for us with the oldest and its already painful.

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