When my son comes home for the holidays, we end up playing a game I call Musical Rooms. (Hint: The game is a lot like musical chairs, except I’m the one who’s left without a room). After my son moved to LA over six years ago, we decided to downsize from a three-bedroom rental to a two-bedroom coop. We all love our new apartment with lovely views and a balcony, except our son who misses his own four walls and is afraid of heights. Now he must settle for an inflatable bed in the living room.
I’m grateful to have my family together over the holidays and to celebrate my twins’ birthday. The only problem is that all of us (except for my husband) mostly work from home. Samantha is an actor; I’m her “momager” and a writer; and Matt is a script writer who has recently started Red Flags, a successful podcast at about Formula 1 racing.
Like it or not, my new job as Director and Choreographer in the Musical Rooms game is to allocate the limited space in our apartment so my daughter can practice singing for her upcoming audition for Into the Woods, and my son can write, take a nap or do his podcast in a quiet room.
Quiet? Not so easy peasy to manage. Our upstairs neighbors have started demolition in their kitchen and today the hammering and banging are endless (except for lunch hour) until 4 pm. Matt is battling a week-long migraine (unsuccessfully) and wears headphones and, yes, rose colored glasses while trying to write on his laptop, and talk on the phone or create his next podcast. Samantha works with her acting coach and her life skills coach in the living room on Thursday and Friday afternoon this week.
“Where should I go today?” Matt asks wearily. “I need a quiet place for a phone meeting and my podcast from 5 to 8pm. Also, I’d like to take a nap now. Should I go in your room?”
I’m trying to talk to my friend on the phone. “Now? It’s noon!” I observe incredulously.
“I need lots of energy for the pod,” he explains. Matt never sleeps well on the inflatable mattress in our light flooded living room. “Can I nap in your room?”
“Yes,” I reply, hoping to return to my conversation.
“What about later?”
“Let’s see…. You can have our bedroom, but Dad comes home from work around 6:30 and will want to change and relax. I suppose I can persuade him to watch TV in the living room, but maybe you should move to the kitchen. Just remember we’ll be eating dinner at 8:30, so if you think it will run over….”
By now, my friend is laughing hysterically. “You should write a blog about this,” she suggests. “I’m sure lots of families with kids home for the holidays can relate—especially in NY apartments with limited space.”
“Really?” I always think of those holiday cards and photos with neurotypical families happily coexisting in whatever space is available. Mine is decidedly NOT that family. Samantha is on the autism spectrum and is willing to give Matt her room when asked (sometimes graciously, sometimes reluctantly…) Matt is prone to migraines.
It is both a curse and a blessing that both of my children work in the entertainment industry. Matt can work remotely from home—wherever that happens to be—so he can come home several weeks to spend holidays, birthdays and summer vacations with us. Samantha lives with us and is always home except when she’s in rehearsal or out with friends on the weekend. Both Matt and Samantha have naturally powerful voices, bringing out the territorial instincts which as an only I child, I also happen to share.
Since I’m a writer and “momager” of my daughter’s career, I too am home a lot at my desk, which is located in the foyer space just beyond the living room. Even when Samantha is in her room and Matt is in the kitchen with the doors closed on the other end of the apartment, I can hear both of them talking (or singing).
I am not one of those writers who like to listen to music with headphones while I write. I like to work in a quiet room.
Impossible for the moment. I want my kids to be happy, but I too need a little peace. Thank goodness Samantha is downstairs in the gym. The hammering and banging have stopped for the workers’ lunch break. Matt is having an impassioned conversation in the kitchen and the lovely chimes from my new grandfather clock are ringing.
“Can you show me how to turn off that clock?” Matt asks.
“Why? I turn off the clock at night when everyone goes to sleep and switch it on after everyone wakes up.”
“It just adds to the noise,” he complains.
“The chimes are lovely and they make me happy.” For me, the Westminster chimes cut through the chaos.
And somehow I’m still able to write this blog.
I really like it. I really think is very interesting. I enjoyed reading the story. Happy holidays.
Thanks. Happy holidays to you too.
You captured what it is like to be a loving mother and still find a space for yourself.
Thanks for sharing.
Glad you enjoyed it and can relate. Sometimes I think just writing the blog is finding my space. I should probably go back to writing it weekly or bi-weekly, but posting it on social media and sending it out via Mail Chimp has become tedious and challenging. In other words, it puts me in a tech space I would prefer to avoid.
Wonderfully described with a lot of love and sense of humor