Walking out to the shed this morning, and I just have to say, pretty much every single time I walk out here, I’m grateful to Kevin and Jed for the gift of the writing shed. I’m not sure I can think of a more concrete sign of love for your sweetheart than to put money or time or effort or thought into making a space where they can do their work in peace.
I know most folks aren’t as lucky as we are, to have the space and funds to be able to build a writing shed. But as so many people are resetting to try to work from home this fall, often attempting to supervise children’s e-learning at the same time, I hope you can all take a little time to carve out a decent workspace for yourselves.
Maybe a curtain or folding screen to block off the part of the living room you’ve set aside for this. A closet you’ve emptied, perhaps. With a little plant to cheer it up. And a sign on the wall: “Do not bother mama unless there is fire or blood.”
Sidebar: MEN with women partners. Whether you have kids or not, but especially if you have small kids at home. Please listen to this and listen hard, because we are all swimming in a toxic patriarchy soup, and right now, when you’re maybe feeling a little more stressed and anxious than usual, that’s when you’re most likely to revert to the worst version of yourself, buttressed by our society’s sexist assumptions.
It is ON YOU to value your partner’s time and mental health and help to MAKE SPACE for her to do her own work, whatever she decides that may be. Maybe she’s trying to jump-start a small business because she got laid off. Maybe she has a job, but her boss is harassing her to work stupid hours remotely and answer e-mails all the damn time.
Maybe she’s organizing the kids’ e-learning and supplementing or replacing their IEP needs because the schools are beyond capacity right now and ALSO keeping track as always of who’s grown out of their winter boots, which is going to be critically important in the next months, because you know you’re all going to want to kick those kids out of the house whenever possible, so you can get a few moments of quiet.
Show her you value her work and her space. Otherwise she might end up brandishing a copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own as she runs screaming down the street, leaving you struggling with piles of dishes and laundry, wondering haplessly where you went wrong.
But you’ll know deep down, because I’m telling you. THIS is where you went wrong. Make space.
And here’s a cautionary tale to just grind this in a little more: I know three marriages, personally, that broke up because the men didn’t pull their weight with domestic labor. It’s heartbreaking all around. Don’t let that be you.
And hey, if any of you want to use this post as a place to brainstorm in comments how to improve your own workspaces (or need arguments to educate your partners with), please feel free to post in the comments. Photos welcome. (I mean, photos of the partners maybe not so helpful as photos of workspaces, but that’s okay. You do you.)