An hour of one’s own #SOL19 8/19

An astute observer might notice that my posts do not go up at the same time every day. In fact, some days I get something written and posted first thing in the morning, and other days, like today, my posts go up much later. Every now and then – though not yet this month – I don’t post until after 10pm.

I’m a teacher, so the rhythm of my days is relatively predictable. I mean, sure, there’s the occasional before or after school meeting and whatnot, but mostly I live by the mindless monotony of minute hands and bells. Given this predictability, I feel like I should be able to write and post pretty much at the same time every day. But I can’t.

In 1929 Virginia Woolf published her (long) essay A Room of One’s Own in which she argues that in order to write, women need money and space, both literally and figuratively. 90 years later, I have much of what she argued is required for women to be able to create. Sometimes when I read her words, I feel encouraged by how much things have changed. Sometimes I want to cry at how much things are the same. I would guess that I more or less have the money and the room that Woolf was looking for. What I don’t have is an hour.

I understand why I don’t have this hour. I know the statistics on how much time women spend on housework, and how we spend as much time with our children now as in some other decade but we work more, and how we get paid differently, and how and how and how…. I know that we are helicopter parents and that we use our cellphones too much while we do or don’t sufficiently supervise the children at play. I have learned that what we do is necessary/ damaging/ laudable/ laughable. I know that I should manage my time better, discipline my children differently, organize my family efficiently. And I know that if I could just do all of those things, I could get the extra hour of sleep and I would have an hour to exercise and I would have an hour to write. I understand that this is, undoubtedly, my fault. And if it is not my fault, I understand that it is the fault of women or, at the very least, the fault of society. I have been so well socialized that I even feel badly about writing this.

But one way or another, I don’t have an hour. Not at work, where my job involves constantly responding to the desires and needs of others and not at home where my job… wait, same thing. And it’s fine, really, usually, mostly. And, you know, I love my students and I love my husband and I love my children and I swear I am a nice person and I’m only just barely complaining because who wants to listen to a whiner, but I’ve written this post a few sentences at a time in my head over the course of several days, occasionally jotting a phrase or two down and sometimes managing to get some sentences into the computer and, as it turns out, that’s not really the best way to write.

Sometimes I imagine what I could do with an hour to write every day. A magical hour that doesn’t mean I sleep less or that dinner doesn’t get made. A magical hour where the kids aren’t looking for me and I haven’t simply shifted work on to my supportive partner. A magical hour where I can gather my thoughts, put them down, and elaborate.

Next week is March Break. Maybe I can make it happen.


21 thoughts on “An hour of one’s own #SOL19 8/19

  1. I agree with Amanda Chaiko–if this is whining, I’ll read it any day! This sentence beautifully encapsulates so much: “I have learned that what we do is necessary/ damaging/ laudable/ laughable.” I do empathize with your frustration. I have things a little easier (and harder) because my children are no longer at home. Still, after teaching all day, I plead diminished mental capacity, and the thought of writing is tremendously daunting. If I don’t post in the morning, I’m not a happy camper. But even without kids at home, that still happens. Overall, I’ve chosen to lose sleep, because that’s what works best for me, and most mornings I write for an hour before moving into my day. Of course sometimes that hour produces gibberish….hang in there and know that you have a devoted audience who is happy to read your writing whenever it’s posted!

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  2. Yeah. That hour doesn’t exist for working moms! You’ll get it when your children have gone on to university, and/or when you are retired. Like you, I blog when I get the chance. That is what makes this challenge so challenging. For many years I got up early, but now I really value my sleep (and I know how much more I need it!) and don’t value burning the candle at both ends. In the meantime, I’m glad you take the time to write, even if it means your poorly disciplined children are starving! 😉


  3. Expressing our reality is not whining. It is acknowledging our limitations so that we can stop berating ourselves for not exceeding them. I have stopped using the word BALANCE when I talk about home/work/life issues and started contemplating HARMONY. Balance implies things must be equal, but some days working longer at school works just fine, other days I need to be with my family more, and then there are days I need to withdraw from it all. Harmony is an agreement, a pleasing and consistent whole. May you find harmony and joy in what you do!

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  4. Having an hour is precious. I didn’t hear your words as whining. I heard something like a strong desire to make something, to push back on the busyness and demands, to carve out for yourself that important space.

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  5. I once read a piece by a mother who lamented that if she could just get up a half hour earlier for each thing that was suggested one get up earlier to do (meditate, exercise, read, write, pursue personal interests, get the bed made and make up on before children arise, etc.) would mean the eventual eradication of sleep. Not a good plan! I know a lot of my “over-burdened” life is partly due to my own choices for good or bad. It is complicated to sort out. I loved your writing about this very real issue for women in today’s society.

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  6. Bird by bird, Amanda… I try to write in chunks, as I rarely get an hour either! My favorite time is when I am up earlier than everyone in my house and make some time to write.

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  7. Not at work, where my job involves constantly responding to the desires and needs of others and not at home where my job… wait, same thing. And it’s fine, really, usually, mostly.

    I can relate to all of this. I’d hug you if you were here. I cried just yesterday, justifying, “I’m just doing me best.” We all are. You made me feel connected today.

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    1. Oh, Jess. This might be the best comment ever. Your blog seems so… together. I remember last year you made some comment about writing blog posts on your phone curled up next to a child you were trying to get to sleep. That image has really stuck with me. We are all just doing our best, aren’t we?

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      1. I was thinking just today, “am I a fraud for writing about the milliseconds of joy and “togetherness”?!? I have a falling apart post I haven’t published yet. Ps… currently commenting from my kids’ bed on my phone…. where most of my posts are written!

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  8. First, I love, love, love the Virginia Wolf reference. Second, for all the progress women have made, we’ve made very little progress. And I read your comment about after school meetings as “after alcohol meetings.” 😂 Hey, it’s Friday! And I fo notice your inconsistent posting times. I’d be the same if I were still chasing children, so cut yourself some slack. Deal?

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  9. I love everything about this post probably because it states my feelings and thoughts without me having to find the time to write it! LOL! As I sit commenting while my 10 year old keeps asking, “Are you done yet? Can you help me now?” Hang in there – – keep doing your best because really that’s all we can do!

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  10. I love the days when I have the extra hour (and will often short myself a bit on sleep to get it), though I confess I don’t always use it as I would like to! This year the challenge’s start date coincided with the start of my spring break, so it’s been so easy to have the leisure to blog. Not sure what next week will bring!

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