The Man Cave?

Do you remember this picture a posted a couple of days ago?

Apart from showing an already messy backyard (it’s being well used so who am I to complain) it’s of our huge shed/garage.  We’ve never had a shed before, just a garage that we had to use for storage space in our old house so the car never saw the inside of it.  This one is big enough for the car, my gardening things on one side and a very large area on the other side for a workshop etc.

Everyone who has visited so far has commented on the size of the shed and how great that will be for Mr Good.  And it is, he does build me pretty much whatever I ask for.  Having had a carpenter as a grandfather, and a father who was also very capable in the building of stuff department, has rubbed off on both Mr Good and his brother.  And we’re a good team, he does the building (and the figuring out how to build exactly what I’ve asked for) and I do the sanding and painting, being better at the finer details than he is.  However, over tea with a friend the other day, she asked if the shed was going to be Mr Good’s man cave.  It got me thinking.

When I think of a ‘man cave’ I picture this kind of thing (albeit a very American version).

Pool table, bar, sporting memorabilia, distinctly ‘male’ in look and design.  And the answer is no, our shed will not be a man cave (apart from the fact that we have none of this stuff to put in it), it will be for storage and an organised (note that Mr Good!) usable workshop.  And of course a house for the car!

But what I really got thinking about was the whole ‘man cave’ phenomenon.  Why is it that men need this space that is entirely theirs, exclusive of females, to retreat to?  I get that sometimes the house interior is often designed or decorated by females (although that’s generally not the case in my house, we usually make joint decisions about all furniture, colours etc), so having a space that’s more their style might be appealing, but I don’t get the retreat bit.  From my experience men have far more freedom and ‘escape’ than their female partners.  Work notwithstanding, Mr Good also plays golf regularly, goes to the football (sometimes with one or both children, but often on his own), goes for drinks with friends either after work or after the football (though not on a really regular basis) and spends inordinate hours in Bunnings.  If you combine these hours off doing his own thing each week and the hours he is at work, that’s a lot of hours away from home and away from the family.  So why would he need a retreat from us at home?

Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t begrudge him these freedoms (except the golf when it happens three times in one week!).  He’s happier when he does these things and he makes a point to give me a break and to spend time with the girls when he can.  He also would never begrudge me going out with friends, doing a class or whatever.

But as for a retreat in the house, if anyone needed that it’s me.  Anyone who has spent considerable hours, days, weeks, months or even years at home being the primary care giver would recognise that desire for a retreat.  Somewhere you can go, close the door and be alone.  Not touched, cried on, clung to, yelled at, demanded of, whined to or needed in any way, by anyone.  I’m sure some people are better at the being at home with kids thing than others (read me), but surely the constantness of it gets to everyone eventually and that burning desire to close the door on it for just a short time comes to the surface.  The problem with having that one main caregiver is that they become the go-to person for EVERYTHING no matter who else is around, first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening and in the middle of the night and anytime in between.  You’re always on. “Mummy do it!” is a constant cry wherever I am.

So I vote for a ‘woman cave.’ Or perhaps I should re-phrase that and say I vote for a ‘primary caregiver cave’ – catchy I know.  Or perhaps I should vote for a world where it’s easier to balance the home/work/leisure trio equally for both sexes.  That would take a pretty major shift in attitudes in lots of workplaces (including truly bringing about parity in pay) and in the division of labour in lots of houses (my own included), but I think it would be a great thing.

Do you feel like you need a ‘cave’ of some sort?  And if so what would you put in it?

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3 Responses to The Man Cave?

  1. wendyblume says:

    Often my husband offers to do stuff at home and my guilt about being the primary carer kicks in and I volunteer to do it instead. I take it on since I feel that it’s ALL MY JOB. So maybe sometimes women are their own worst enemies.

    And I’d have my kitchen in my shed, which i guess would kind of just make it the house 🙂

    • Barbara Good says:

      I felt like that for a while too Wendy. Then I went back to work three days a week and still did pretty much all the household chores and most of the parenting stuff. Now I don’t feel guilty!

      And as for having your kitchen in your cave, nothing wrong with that. The point is you can be in it without interruptions and sharing the space with the stuff little people seem to bring everywhere they go.

      • wendyblume says:

        yes, its interesting, I’ve done a few stints of part time work over the past few years and each time I end up just doubly busy, while everyone elses lives seems to stay the same. 🙂

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