Question 280 of 365: Do we need Man Caves?

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Call it an office or a tool shed or a garage, but the Man Cave has become something of a mythical figure in daily married life. It is something to aspire to if you don’t have one or escape to if you do. It is decked out with sufficiently Man-friendly objects like big screen TVs, powerful gadgets or tools, and lots of paraphernalia from when this “man” was a bachelor. Somehow, wives and girlfriends are supposed to pay respect to the cave and allow the man to slip into this space as often as he would like. She may complain about this setting to other women, but it is a nonstarter with Man Cave dwellers. The television and movies promote this and we buy in because it let’s the those rooms have a respected purpose other than time sinks and conversation avoidance. The Man Cave is a presence for all who see it or inhabit it. It exists. Accept it.

Except, I don’t have one.

I have never advocated for one or staked out my claim to a particular space in our house. The very nature of a space that separates me from my family is antithetical to my understanding of a home. I want to be with my family.

My “master bathtub” is the one that our kids are bathed in most often.

The reading area is for me to read with my kids.

We have laptops so that we can be with others while we do the work we must.

The only couch we care to sit on is one that fits all of us.

The play room is the play room for everyone.

Yesterday, my daughter told me that “adults don’t have fun.” She further explained that only kids can have fun. I asked her how she knew and she told me that Adults don’t laugh like kids. I asked her about the things that she thought were fun: playdoh, dancing, listening to music, and reading. I told her that I thought they were a lot of fun too. After some discussion, she begrudgingly said that I could have fun, but other adults could not. She agreed that I laughed with her on a regular basis, but she still wanted to see the distinction between adults (and specifically male adults) and children (specifically, little girls named Isabelle).

I wonder if those with Man Caves could convince my daughter that they have fun too. I wonder if they could convince her that both a separate space for Adult Men and small children is warranted in the home. She is pretty smart, and I think even at 4 she would be able to spot the hypocrisy of separation that is required to create a Man Cave.

While there are times that I enjoy being alone and thinking through my passions, I will never exercise a mythical right to a Man Cave. I will never expose my children to the idea that somehow men need to escape from the horrors that is child rearing any more than women.

Ultimately though, the biggest reason that I do not want or need a Man Cave is that it can only be one thing. It can only be a couch and a TV or a tool shed and a set of special wrenches. My spaces can be anything that I want them to be. I can create and recreate the places that I spend my time. I can dress them up and bring anyone I want into them just to have them poke around and enjoy the environment. I don’t have to devalue everyone by possessing them. I can co-create them with my family and outside of that nuclear unit. In short, I bring my Man Cave, My Woman cave, my Child Cave, my Coworker Cave, My Collaborator Cave, and all of the other various caves I need with me everywhere that I go. And because of this, I can look my children in the face and tell them that I have fun, with them.

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