Earlier this summer, when it was decided that we would move out of our very small home into my father’s (which I inherited following his death in May), I began making plans to decorate Bronwyn and Callum’s bedrooms. They had been crammed into one tiny bedroom together — which was still pink. Time and toddlers had wreaked havoc with their room, and it was covered in carpet stains, crayon murals, and frequently broken furniture. All of their toys, a crib, and a bed – all crammed into one tiny space – made for chaos. And I was simply too overwhelmed by the hectic pace of working full-time and ferrying Callum to six therapy appointments a week. Stress leads to chaos and chaos to stress in an endless repeating cycle.
So I’ll admit this mama’s heart was cheered by the thought of creating two beautiful rooms for my babies. I wanted my little girl to feel like a princess. And I wanted the opportunity to finally prepare a charming space for a little boy — rather than simply move his crib into his sister’s room. I started with Bronwyn’s room – picking a lavender and pink butterfly theme. Then I got to brainstorming Callum’s room.
At some point during my chattering about decor ideas, a couple of people said to me, “Well, Callum won’t really care about his room.” Which, though that sounds somewhat insensitive, there is a degree of truth to that. Callum doesn’t care one bit about puppies, undersea, or dinosaur themes. But the statement and its accompanying reality stung a bit. It wasn’t meant to hurt. I think they were just concerned I’d be disappointed if he didn’t react to the room positively (or at all).
But I already knew I wouldn’t get a typical little boy’s reaction. For my sweet little man isn’t at all typical. What I also knew was that it didn’t matter to me one bit. I wanted to give him a beautiful space. Spacious. Colorful. Everything that any little boy deserves. I can’t give him group sports, an interest in Lincoln logs, or friends. Those are things he can’t access right now. Maybe not ever. Time will tell. But I could give him a beautiful room.
Virginia Woolf once stated that a woman must have “a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. No, Woolf wasn’t referring to autistic little boys in her feminist essay on women and fiction. But her belief that a person must have a personal space in order to be able to grow and create is equally true for all souls. Perhaps not a literal space, such as a room. But time to oneself in a place peaceful to the individual. A place in which one wants to be.
So, I set about giving Callum his place to be. We chose a pirate theme in deep red, tan, black, and gold. Found an adorable little bedding set and the accompanying drapes, etc. A friend traded me her little girl’s captain’s bed for an extra queen we had. And we painted the drawers the different colors of his bedding and set them off with little pirate knobs I found on eBay. A net, a ship, some pirate decor, and a big plush shaggy pile red rug for him to roll around on in sensory bliss.
No, he didn’t give us the joyous reaction that his sister did — at first. He needed to take it all in. But, within just a few minutes, he began flapping a bit. And within an hour he was gleefully bouncing on his new bed. (Yes, I know I’m a terrible mother. Don’t write me.) He found his favorite helicopter — and the attached string he likes to whip about. And – wait for it – he has peacefully slept (and stayed) in his new big boy bed every night. All night long.
Mama and daddy slept all night long too.
And so my little boy now has a room of his own. No, he doesn’t care about pirates. But he knows this is his room. A room in which he can grow, dream, and wonder. To flap, stim, and – yes -bounce on the bed. A place to go when ordered by his 5 year-old big sister to get out of her room. He likes it. He’s happy.
And that is the root of every prayer in every mother’s heart, now isn’t it?