The Life-Changing Magic of Having a Second Place to Go

The walls were closing in, the Zoom had lost its charm. After a year as a working parent, all I needed was a room of my own.

Photo: gremlin/Getty

I didn’t want to model for him that dreams ought to be deferred.

I recognize I’m living many people’s childhood dreams, getting to be a writer at all. It’s one I tried to relinquish as I neared adulthood — there were so few authors in this world, who was I to think someone should read my words? And yet, when our first child, our son, was born, a recognition gripped me: I didn’t want to model for him that dreams ought to be deferred. On the train home from work, I started writing a novel, tapping out essays at night or when he napped on weekends.

Screenshot of the author on a Zoom call and in need of a haircut.

I wish post-pandemic, every mother could have a refuge like this.

As such, it is a profound privilege purchased for me by my kids’ (now vaccinated) teachers. It was modeled for me by my grandmother, and in a way by my mother, who always pushed at me to desire more for myself. It is a thing, this space, this time, in great deficit for most American working mothers right now experiencing the primal scream of a broken system that dumped a generation’s unpaid labor at their feet as the world shutdown.

Sarah Stankorb is a contributor to GEN. Other works in The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Glamour, O, and The Atlantic. @sarahstankorb www.sarahstankorb.com

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