A room of my own

When I began freelance writing 9 years ago, I did so, at an ugly plywood computer table, sunk into a papassaan, with the Brat ensconced behind me. As he grew a little bigger he began to hold his head up and sit up and play with my hair, my clothes, as I typed. I’d lift him around to the front to nurse and then prop him back behind me. It was attachment parenting of a kind because he was an absolutely good baby, happy to lie close to his mother and smell her as she worked. I’m convinced it’s one of the reasons he’s grown up very secure and sure of himself, of my presence in his life and absolutely unclingy. I could be wrong, but I’m sticking with this story.

What it did to me as a professional though, is ensure that I never allowed myself to come first. I’ve always let the kids play in the room as I’ve worked and it’s worked out fine. At one point the Brat’s favourite thing to do was crawl up to my UPS and switch it off. I solved that problem by putting the UPS on top of my table.

We moved to Delhi, the Bean was born and soon she crawled around as I worked, too. Never once getting her fingers smashed under the rocking chair that I upgraded to as a work chair. I lost my back to the poor office furniture I had but they doubled up as great places to nurse and rock colicky babies back to sleep.

As the years went by and the babies went to school I got a swivel chair and an escritoire from my parents (remember, I blogged about it here?) and that became the final office set up that I’ve used for years now. For the last five years I’ve been attached to one institution or another on a work from home basis and I spend practically my entire day with my butt glued to the chair.

The OA often says he envies me. I have a dull but well paying day job for the money, freelance work for the joy of creativity, the comfort of working in my tracks, time with the kids when they come home and the flexibility of working while we travel too. I guess when you put it that way it sounds great.

However, my resume is patchy and my biggest grouse is that I don’t get out of the my bedroom. My work table has been there since the kids were born because I’d often lie them down in my bed to sleep, I’d nurse them while I worked, I’d keep an eye out for disturbed sleep and pat them back if I needed to. It was just more convenient.

Even good friends don’t realise I work because I rarely sound stressed about it. And they always see me in my pajamas! I have my inlaws come in and watch TV while I’m trying to work. When I pay for big ticket items people stare in slack jawed surprise because they don’t really imagine I’m earning anything! The worst though, is my own fault. Since the table is in my bedroom I end up taking on more and more work and working late into the night while the OA reads or watches some telly.

But  – it drove me nuts because all I saw were the four walls of my bedroom. I slept there. I worked there. I lay in bed and read at night. The kids, like all kids, insisted on hanging out in our room when they had nothing else to do. I had cabin fever.

And so a couple of weeks ago I told the OA I wanted to convert our formal living room into my office. And turn our house dining cum family room into a dining cum living room. The truth is, no one ever bothered to sit in our formal living room and for some reason it didn’t have any personality. Perhaps because it wasn’t lived in. And being east-facing it’s a comfortable, cool room and ties in with my desire to not use air conditioning unless absolutely necessary. I just needed a room of my own where I could get away from our personal life and bedroom and TV and chaos, and work.

The OA groaned, but agreed readily that it was the need of the hour. And then we shocked ourselves by carrying most of our furniture ourselves. My mum was mad when she heard I’d done that with my bad knee, but I was too eager to get it done right then and I like doing stuff around the house with the OA instead of calling in help.

My new office is fantastic. It looks out into my lush, east facing garden and is quiet, peaceful and cool. I might not win a Booker while working here, but it makes me less cranky. The kids know that when Mama is in her office, she’s really working and they rarely walk in there. It just doesn’t have the informality of my bedroom.

I have a reading corner, a work corner, a put-the-babies-to-sleep-if-they’re-sick corner, an awesome iPod dock, a refrigerator and kettle. I walk out into my little garden if I want a breath of fresh air and it’s great for smoking friends too! All I need is a swing now but the OA will probably put up a fight before he lets me get one.

And to quote Ms Woolf, I finally have a room of my own.

Office 2

My work station


Office 1

My rest station


19 thoughts on “A room of my own

  1. This is FANTASTIC! Now the space will get lived in too. And your upstairs family area, always looked like it ought to be a living room to me 😛

    When we moved homes last year, I turned the second bedroom into an office space because I was tired of working at my dining table and not having “workspace” because somehow having a desk, a space dedicated to just working (not somewhere you get kicked out from at meal times and when guests arrive) puts me in a better headspace to work. I tired of the dining table in one year, I dont know how you managed for nine!

    Of course my office isnt half as pretty as yours, but it has a balcony that I can walk out into, music, books and a day bed/reading/reclining area. But this also means I am one (the only other) bedroom short when people come visiting.. but since it mostly just our folks and friends who visit, we make do by dragging mattresses out on to the floor and shacking up like sardines.

  2. Simply awesome. I could work there all day without pay! Hope you have been good TMM. Commenting after a long time.

    Glad you are writing more frequently. This new tranquil corner must surely be one of the motivators.

  3. That’s an aesthetically done office to make work fun. I have simple executives table to work on. Also, I feel holding the child to the chest give them warmth and confidence. This is what I’ve read once.

  4. Beautiful MM.. congrats on the new workspace. Looks peaceful and lovely. My dream is to build a home, with a beautiful library which can house books and movies and has a lot of sunshine coming into it. I would like a deewan, 1-person cane swing , recliner, kiddy-corner and work-desk in it for furniture. And I have a picture of the shelving-space I want to stack away the books. Kaash…..someday..someday!

    BTW MM, did you do the tag on 10 recommended books that is doing its rounds on FB? If yes, do you please mind sharing?

  5. Awesome! Grew up with an “office room” at home where anyone who needed to work went (including children if they needed a quiet spot to study for exams) so have always replicated that anywhere I lived. Absolute must,IMO, along with decent furniture – glad to see you have your spot! (Though I’d never get any work done with such a nice view outside – I need a boring office to concentrate!)

  6. wow wow!!!! dear, awesome… the room looks fab.. garden too.. glad you have your own room.

    Come on MM, post some pics of the house..

  7. As I read through the post, everything thing in it – working from home with the kids around, working in the PJs and people thinking nothing much of the work, I found myself in your story. I have worked from home for years and I would not give up for anything else. But your space inspires me to create one. There is always a little room in every house that you can carve out for yourself.

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring. The room looks gorgeous, the rest station is tempting. I always end up working on a couch regardless of how big or well kept my desk is.

  8. How lovely! Cheers to a more creative and fun work day. Although, I wish you had done something about your back/office furniture sooner. Nothing is worth losing your health as we all realize a bit too late. Speedy recovery vibes.

  9. It’s truly a delightful space Momma, very happy for you sweets, you deserve it so much. so much.

    And now I do so want a Booker coming out of that place. Fingers and toes crossed and prayers to Ganapathi Bappa from me.

    And that lovely garden that I can barely get a glimpse of in those photos. Must give you so much pleasure looking out on the plants your hands do magic with outside, while your mind does other kinds of magic on paper(ok, well, on e-paper) inside.

    And a cuppa tea with some biskoot too I hope is just the fodder a writer needs no:-)

  10. It is perfect MM ! With all that sunlight streaming in and a lovely garden to look at if you feel bored, what is not to love about this workplace !! Enjoy !

  11. Holy smokes! Look at that. My husband and I fight for the exact same spot on the couch when we work from home. Work space and all is for the riches 🙂
    And speaking of WFH, do you ever feel like you have to talk to co-workers, customers, clients or whoever in person? For me this is a big deal and it has an impact on my general social behavior to an extent. Is it just me or did you ever have to face that dilemma?
    I’m still learning commenting etiquettes, so please bear with my nosy questions, miss.

  12. It’s beautiful, inspiring and so serene! Loved the greens! Hope you have lovey time working here and we get to have more & more b’ful blog posts from you. I also freelance and love the flexibility it offers…the only grudge; hardly any money to survive! But then, it’s a choice you make…to live life your way…and i don’t regret it a bit, especially after reading your blog. happy working!!!

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