Although it was the right decision to home school this year, it did not come without some sacrifice. My time, attention and goals have been revamped to accommodate one busy fifth grader during the day and the rest of my family in the evenings and weekends. It has been a wonderful transition, but still requires work and compromise.
Originally, our living room was set up as a partial sitting area and work space when we moved in a few years ago. My laptop and writing took up one small corner, while my music stand took up another. The room was multifunctional but still a pretty space. But as we turned it into a home office and classroom, the space went from pretty to practical. I was a little disappointed to see the overhaul, but knew that having a dedicated work space was going to be essential to a well-organized school year. Having school on our kitchen table was not a good option, and I was optimistic that placing my beloved love-seat in our bedroom would still carve out a little place for me to steal a few moments alone with my thoughts and a cup of coffee.
Things never turn out the way you think. For starters, I have a preteen and a teenage daughter who both need their own spaces to entertain friends or even watch their favorite TV programs. In addition, I have a very hard-working and generous husband that needs a space to regroup after a long day or week of work. On any given day, especially if we are all home, the family room belongs to The Hare, the finished basement belongs to The Tortoise, the bedroom belongs to DW and the playroom is overrun with Barbies and Lego. It isn’t very comfortable to sit at a desk to read a good book or talk to a friend. The dining room isn’t any cozier either. In fact, it is even more sterile since we aren’t a formal dining room kind of family. The dinky little table in that room was actually the table I bought for my first apartment back in 1995 and the other two large pieces are family heirlooms. I was prepared for being a little home bound and isolated this year. What I wasn’t prepared for was feeling displaced.
Since July, I have found myself wandering from room to room trying to find my own space. I gave up the one room of the house that wasn’t over run with toys or computers. There were no piles of laundry staring me in the face, no bins of art supplies or unfinished projects. It was quiet and peaceful, a place to just “be”. As a mom, I know there are many times in our parental journey that we must compromise parts of ourselves to help the family as a whole, but sometimes, we sacrifice just a little too much and risk losing a part of ourselves.
On Friday, I had an epiphany.
“DW,” I asked tentatively, ” how would you feel about getting rid of our dining room?”
“Sure, I’ve never wanted a dining room anyway,” he responded, “but what would we do with that space?”
“How about turning it into the office and classroom space?” I asked.
“Makes sense,” he said, “then it would be right off the kitchen.”
A few minutes of silence passed.
“But then we would have an empty room,” DW stated.
“Sort of. Temporarily,” I answered.
I could see dollar signs floating over DW’s head and his eyes glaze over a little. We’ve been married long enough that he knows that there is usually a price tag attached to a room rearrange.
“Sounds great,” he said without flinching.
And so, the transformation started Friday night and finished Monday evening. The last thing to do is remove the chandelier from the dining room and swap it out with the light fixture over our kitchen table. The damage hasn’t been too bad. One chaise lounge, an area rug and a bench have been purchased for the new living room. Everything else was re-purposed furniture hiding all over our house. The only glaring hole is the love-seat from our bedroom that is now back in its original position. Our bedroom had been reconfigured to accommodate it last summer, and DW has grown quite attached to lounging on it in front of the television. That purchase will need to be made soon or risk him displacing The Hare from the family room, forcing her to hide in my bed eating snacks, to watch HGTV.
My house has suddenly felt so much larger over the last couple of days, and I feel more at home. This morning I sat in the sea-foam green chaise lounge drinking a steaming cup of coffee, watching faint snow flurries outside the windows. There were no projects or workbooks to distract me, no laundry or toys to overwhelm. I got to enjoy the moment, prepare for the rest of the day.
And then tonight, I’ll drink a hot cup of tea in there and call it a day.
A good day.