In the ‘50’s when the average size of a new home was a mere 950 sq. feet, the house I grew up in seemed spacious at 1700 sq. feet after Dad converted the garage into a “wreck room” for our family of six. (Much later did I learn the actual phrase was “rec” room, short for recreation. “Wreck” seemed appropriate for our active household.)
Privacy was scarce. Older Bro’s room was the least secluded, serving as passage from the utility room to the back bedrooms as well as housing the family desk bearing the large Underwood typewriter. Baby Bro had a small bed in our parent’s room until Big Bro left for college. My personal space was the desk in my shared bedroom, at which I would do homework, write rhyming poems, and journal. Even the main bathroom with the only locking door was fair game for siblings or Mom to interrupt during grooming. State of dress or toileting did not deter anyone.
In most of our former houses, I have been able to carve out private space for sewing, music, reading, or other interests. Our current house which accommodates two families presents a challenge for the adults. At this time, ED enjoys her bedroom with en-suite although admits to dreaming of a living room she can call her own. The boys each have spacious bedrooms upstairs as well as the large bonus room used for fun and study. Mike claims a corner of the den for his desk. The garage is also his domain and includes a workshop. My space is a corner of the bedroom with my desk converted from an occasional table. I also claim through exclusive use the piano and immediate area now used for recording, as well as a sewing table, all in the den but open to traffic. When the weather cooperates, I move my desk outside.
Our social mother was not one to value privacy: doors were not to be closed, self-isolation and daydreaming were discouraged; the Midwest work ethic encouraged. In my childhood frustration I vowed to allow my future children their “space.” I have learned to honor alone time as essential for creativity. Daydreaming opens the mind to possibilities, birthing new ideas.
Although I often long for a private room, a she-shed, or even a solitary few days away, I appreciate that we are able to provide this large house for the family especially at this time of shelter-in-place. My fellow introvert Blue Boy is rarely seen. When he does appear, excepting occasional teenage surliness, he is pleasant. Mowgli has plenty of space to create forts, scatter clothes and toys, run with Luna, and swim. He often jumps in to help with chores. Mike is either at his desk or in the garage or outdoors working.
Sharing a house, we honor each other’s sanctuary. We can go to our corner to soothe, meditate, or rant, reappearing when the need for family love overcomes the need for privacy.