I spent Friday as a home-office refugee, chased from spot to spot by my kid and his friends and the wall of noise they were making. I started in my favorite spot, on the screened-in porch, but had to leave when the kids got up a game of wiffle ball. (I say I had to leave, but of course I know plenty of fathers who would have told their kids to get lost in similar situations, and their approach is probably better than mine. But I’ve never been able to stand in the way of a game of wiffle ball.) I took my laptop up to the balcony off our bedroom, but had to move again when the painters working on the house next door started power-washing the deck. As much as I love working at home, and as much as I love not having to spend my days in a cubicle surrounded by miserable co-workers, there is something a little unnatural about a man spending an ordinary Monday or Tuesday in his house. The domestic world belongs to mom and the kids—I know that sounds starkly Larry Summers-ish, but there it is--and having a man around somehow seems wrong to everybody, including the man.
In the June Atlantic Benjamin Schwarz reviews a pair of books on domestic architecture, and calls the family home “contested terrain—between the individual and the family, children and the parents, wives and husbands.”
But I say it's no contest. Which is one of the reasons I’m writing this at five in the morning. I’ve got the house to myself at this time of day, and I can work where I want.
My wife and kid will be up in an hour or so, and they’ll reclaim their space then.