I associate men with garages. In my own personal world, garages are simply who they are, what they do, and where they’ll be.
My dad likes to tell a story about a time I don’t even remember, when I’d sit in the garage with him and hand him tools he didn’t need approximately every 30 seconds. I spent a lot of time in the garage growing up, swinging my feet and asking my dad who his favorite Brady Bunch character was, searching for a dropped bolt while he worked on something, using my smaller hands to reach into a tight spot and twist something, Skip-It ing and singing along with Van Halen until his patience had officially been tried.
When we made the two-hour drive to my grandparents’ house, we always entered through the garage. I’m fairly certain they do have a front door somewhere, but the garage is just how we’ve always gone in. My dad would often stop for a moment to admire the new tool or project his dad had recently gotten or started working on. We’d all visit and play, then Grandma would pull dinner out of the oven and holler out into the garage or have one of us cousins open the door to announce to the guys that dinner was ready.
When I started dating Ryan (and still today) we just wanted to be around each other, even if we weren’t doing anything fun. I spent many evenings and nights working on homework or reading a book in a garage while he worked on his quad, his truck, my truck, a dirt bike… we borrowed his mom’s garage, his friend’s, my dad’s, his uncle’s. I’ve sat outside and read while my husband worked on cars, trucks, dirt bikes, quads, while he’s welded and soldered and woodworked and repaired.
When we moved into the condo we lived in for our first year of marriage, Ryan was ecstatic to have a garage space of his own. He hung up posters, set up a little desk area, added a chair for me to sit in while he worked, got a good CD player we could listen to music with. He worked on many vehicles in there and started his car/sport utility flipping days in there. I felt like a real, live wife when I carried homemade cookies and glasses of pink lemonade out to the garage to enjoy together while he took a break. I’d sit out there and read or just talk to him.
We’d make the drive back to our hometown and almost every time we pulled up at my parents’ house we’d find my dad and my brother outside working on my brother’s Bronco II. We’d say our hellos and chat for a few minutes, then I’d head inside to find my mom while Ryan sat out in the garage and tinkered with the guys.
We’ve moved a few times since then, sometimes with garages and sometimes without… but right now, we have one. Every time Ryan opens that garage door, even if it’s just to lean into the doorway and set something down, our little guy gasps and smiles. He runs over to his little Spider Man chair so he can sit and watch, or he beelines for his shoes so he can go out there and play with wood and tools under Dad’s supervision. He waves at me, or occasionally comes in to ask for a snack, but in general he views garage time as guy time.
I love that he has such a wonderful bond with his daddy. I love that he’s already found a favorite activity to do together, and I love knowing they might sit out there someday and work on a car together while our son sighs and asks his dad for girl advice. I love knowing our children will inherit handy skills from their father. They’ll find joy in creating something with their hands, save money by fixing something themselves, and spend countless hours of childhood growing up around the sounds and smells I grew up with.
There are many skills we hope to teach our children someday. I want all of our children to know how to cook healthy and nutritious meals for themselves and their families. I want all of our children to know how to sew up a ripped seem or throw a patch on a pair of jeans. I smile when I imagine a daughter having only handmade dolls and a wardrobe made completely by hand, often with her help until she gets older and maybe, just maybe, loves it enough to make her own clothes. I want our kids to know how to change their own tires, how to fix a wobbly table leg… and so, so much more. I want them to grow up with that glorious self-satisfaction that can come only from fixing something or creating something yourself.
I want them to grow up hanging out in the garage with Dad.