that's always been a question.
Our bedroom capacity is not huge. We moved to this house trading indoor space for outdoor space. When we transitioned to four girls, we wondered if we should squeeze or finally give into Celia's wildest dream ... her own room.
Our master is on the main level and there are three moderate sized bedrooms upstairs. The basement is finished and we'd turned it into a movie viewing area for our Friday family movie nights as I preferred not to have a television commanding attention in our living room.
We decided to make the switch. Upstairs bedrooms: three girls in one, one in the other, and two boys in the third.
This is the only picture I have of the three girl arrangement and none of Celia's room as the set up did not last very long.
She was unhappy.
It was a funny thing. She had everything she wanted. But now, there was irritation and ownership and disengagement. She's an avid reader ... I couldn't keep up with her if I tried... and she just — disappeared with her books. With her permission, I tell this experience from a little over a year ago.
I stepped into her room one night to say my good nights and a book lay across the end of her bed. It was popular literature that friends had recommended at school but a book that I knew to be highly adult themed. I asked her about it and she burst into tears and said she'd been so disturbed in chapter one but it had been too hard to put down until chapter two. She expressed how difficult living alone made making certain decisions. Like actually having the discipline to turn out the light, putting down a "good" or "not so good" book, getting up in the morning, keeping her space uncluttered ... and on and on.
We talked at length and among other things, it came to light that there were good points about having the responsibility of one's own space ... but sometimes, the not so good can be out-weighing.
I stewed over what to do as a mother with so little space available.
I lay awake remembering life as the oldest daughter and listening to the laughter of the other girls off in the room they shared. I recalled coming home from college as an engaged-to-be-married-in-the-morning gal, and stopping by that bedroom that had always been shared. I stood outside the door listening to the companionable conversation over the excitement toward the next day's wedding festivities. I'm certain the camaraderie wasn't always there but it had, in the long run, created an unbreakable bond. A bond I felt a slight sad little tug of outsider "ness" in the presence of, most probably because I'd had my "own space" for longer than I had not.
In the light of dawn, I spoke with Celia again relating my memories and she asked to be moved back in.
And Newel created an office of her abandoned room to which I have decided every man should have his own space in a home for sanity's sake :) But that's another line of thinking for another day.
I don't have a picture of all four of my girls cramming into that little bedroom for the last year, but they have made it work. Yes, there were plenty of adjustments and moments of wound licking, but they all seemed generally happier. They managed Eliza's transition from crib to bed flawlessly and listening to Eliza tell each sister goodnight in the darkness was well worth the switch.
And of course, with baby #7 on the way, I'm once again looking at re-arrangement.
Everyone has to shift to make room for one more body. I've faced the only solution. Move the girls to the finished basement. Since we know we'll be 5:2, baby girl #5 has prompted Project Dormitory. That's what I've been working on and I wish we'd done this so much sooner. It's heaven.
The television has been moved up to the living room. Not my favorite but more monitor-able. Especially with teens who want weekend movie night gatherings with friends without feeling silly over motherly interruptions in a basement every few minutes :)
These guys, the couches and television stand, are going the way of Craig's list. And my finished basement is quickly accommodating four beds and one crib — for as long as it is needed.
And if the bright beach-y fabric selections for bedding don't warm my heart a little here at the end of February ... Stepping down the stairs to kiss each head goodnight down the line and finding girls big and small, braiding each other's hair last night ...
Well, that warmed me more than a little.