“I cannot work up here!” I cried to my husband. We were standing in what I refer to as our dumping ground: the bonus room which simultaneously serves as a workshop, a workout room, a recording studio, and a holder of rarely used household items. It was about to become my office, too.
We’d just reconfigured our home to make room for the nursery, and my work space was now in our cheery sunroom with walls painted the color of egg yolk and windows overlooking the woods and nearby lake. For Christmas my husband had given me a bird feeder as a beautiful distraction during the long hours of the work week. I was thrilled.
What we hadn’t accounted for was how I’d be unable to focus on even the most menial task with our baby just steps (crawls?) away from my desk. For the first few months I attempted to work there while my mom cared for her in our living room, the only practical space for keeping her entertained. Her cooing and crying kept me on edge and pulled at my heart all day long. I knew I couldn’t work there, and I was devastated about it. The beautiful space we had created together where I was going to watch birds and type blog posts and take conference calls was now defunct. In my mind the only feasible solution was to relegate myself upstairs to the dumping ground.
We were in the midst of taking my desk apart and hauling the pieces up the stairs when I realized that this arrangement wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t spend my day working in a state of perpetual disarray in the room where we kept our Christmas ornaments and board games and elliptical machine. In the months leading up to our daughter’s birth we’d done our best to make adequate room for her in our home, but I couldn’t have prepared myself for the shock of how all-consuming parenthood would be, how it would displace my things and my time and my sense of self. I couldn’t take having my needs come in last place again.
My husband wrapped his arms around me as I cried and assured me that this move to the bonus room was not unavoidable. I deserved a space that was comfortable and met my needs. Together we came up with a new plan. I’m typing these words from my new office, our former guest room. There’s a new bird feeder outside of my window. My husband has taken great care to fill this space with everything I need to be productive and creative and content, and I am so grateful.
That day as we dragged furniture up and down the stairs of our house over and over again, I looked over at my sweat-drenched husband and said to myself, this is what marriage is. Marriage is about wanting the best for your spouse, even if it means unexpectedly spending your day off hefting furniture up two flights of steep steps, even if it makes your back ache afterward. Marriage is listening to someone else’s needs and working together to meet them. These aren’t the parts of marriage that we hire photographers to capture or that we toast with glasses of champagne, but we should celebrate them nonetheless. And whenever someone is fortunate enough to form that love and commitment with another person, regardless of gender, we should rejoice without ceasing.