The One Thing I Crave as a Middle-Aged Mom
I have a recurring dream — a very pleasant one. It takes place in my home, though the home may or may not resemble the house I actually live in.
No matter what is going on in the dream, there comes a point when I discover a room, sometimes an entire floor, that I never knew existed. It is always furnished, never lavishly, but it’s comfortable and it’s quiet and it’s all mine.
In the dream, I never actually use the room. I find it, and then I wake up, the excitement of my discovery tingling down my spine. “To think, it’s been there the entire time,” I say to myself, and as I sit up in bed, the tingles give way to the heavy crush of disappointment. There is no secret room, I realize, and most definitely no secret floor.
My husband is amused by my dream. He thinks my subconscious is telling me I want a bigger house. But that’s not quite it. All in all, I’m quite content in our small, old home.
It’s not about the number of rooms — it’s about having one all to myself. A space where I can hear my own thoughts. A space removed from sticky hands and crumb-strewn floors, from the press of bodies and unrelenting needs.
In my daytime fantasies, I allow my mind to linger on not a room, but an entire house. Nothing fancy, just a small cottage miles away from the House of Chaos that demands my unflagging energy and attention.
Maybe there’s a view of the ocean. But I won’t get too greedy. I’d take just about any freestanding structure with heat and indoor plumbing.
I feel the need to assure you that I love my family, as though my desire for solitude must be in conflict with my so-called “maternal instincts.” As though a woman could not possibly love her family and, from time to time, feel an overwhelming urge to get the hell away from them.
Myths, folktales, books, and movies are full of male heroes on solitary quests, hunts, expeditions, spiritual journeys. The women are nothing more than blurs in the background, often with a baby (or two) on the hip.
If a solitary woman does factor into a story, chances are, she’s a witch. Not a “good witch,” either.