Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Was NOT Alone...Neither Are You.

Joining the Raleigh-stay-at-home-dads group via www.meetup.com was one of the best decisions I've made as a father thus far.  After a few email exchanges with the coordinator and I was off to my first meeting.

3/8/11: I was one of only three dads that day.  We met at the coordinators house and spent a few hours together, watching our kids crawl around on the floor.  There were two boys and one girl, all under one year old.  I'll admit, it was a little awkward at first..since we were at a strangers house with random people.  Yet I had faith that these dads, all primary caregivers, would be like me...good fathers with common interests.  Turns out we got along great...and so did the kids.

We broke the ice by discussing our stay-at-home situation, i.e. what our previous jobs were, wives' careers, where we lived and for how long.  By the end of this meeting I had two new friends and a weekly event set up.  (hit easy button now)

There was some advise sharing from the "most experienced father", but mainly just get-to-know you conversation as we watched our kids interact.  At this point it was pretty easy to carry on long, in-depth  conversation...since the kids were just laying/sitting or scooting at best.  I would learn in the coming months that every conversation is frequently interrupted by "the chase".

We were all relatively new to the meetup group.  The group had just over 40 members in Feb, 2011, but most had been inactive for months.  Kids grow up and lifestyles change...I get it.  We decided to start meeting at various parks around the Raleigh metro area...figuring it would attract more dads.  As of this writing more than 20 new dads have signed up...that is almost 50% growth in six months!! We are making an impact ever time we get out.   Recently we've had meetups with 10 dads and 10+ kids. 

The take-away here is: stay-at-home-dads make friends quickly and easily.  It is in our prehistoric nature to build a quick camaraderie before the "hunt".  You have something in common from the start...children...and the fact we stick out like a sore thumb.  The attention is welcome, just be prepared for some conversations.