Writing Wednesday: Closing the Door

I am lucky enough as a writer to have had an office for most of my adult life. Even when I had small children in the house (and I had 5 in 8 years), I had an office. My children had a fairly strict schedule which was designed around one goal: me having 2 hours of writing time every afternoon. My oldest daughter napped until she was in Kindergarten. My second daughter did not. But I still had “nap time” during which she was expected to play quietly in her own room while I worked in my office. We both had the door closed, and when I opened the door, I was available to be “Mom” again. But if she came down to bother me before the two hours were up, I made sure it was not a happy experience for her, so she wouldn’t keep doing it.

The older I get, the more useful I think this idea of closing the door is. So many women seem to lament that they don’t have time for anything in their lives other than caring for their children or volunteering to do charitable works. I think this is a mistake. I think that women need to spend a little time every day caring for themselves and I think that they would do well to work on some kind of beauty, something that will endure. If that is writing or quilting or home decor, I don’t care. But nurturing yourself and reminding your children that you have a life that exists beyond their needs is, I believe, ultimately good for both mother and child. I would go further and say that it is good for every relationship to have a door that can be opened or closed.

Obviously, there are times in our lives when we don’t get to control what we wish we could. But I think that for many women, that frantic pace is the norm rather than the exception to the rule. And it is partly our own fault. Because we don’t close the door. We don’t say “no, I’m busy” when people ask if we can help. We don’t unplug the phone or the computer. We don’t ignore the doorbell. We keep our door open at all times and then we are surprised that people are always interrupting us in our own work. We blame others when it is we who are refusing to close the door.

If you need to buy earplugs to keep out noise, do that. If you need to buy noise canceling headphones or need to put on music to focus, do that. Find what you need to do to “close your door” and get your work done. And don’t make it someone else’s problem. This is your choice. You keep the door open when it is open. And only you can close it and keep it closed when it needs to be closed.