Monday, August 10, 2015

Parenthood: Week 113 - Hanging With The Dads

We move through different stages in our lives. When people we know are not in the same stage that we are in, it is often difficult to understand what these people are going through. When my brother was in high school and I was in middle school, we didn't connect very well; however, when we were both in college things really clicked.

These stages in our lives often define our focus and our perspective. A parent of a newborn often isn't thinking about much else, and a high school senior is often focused on end of the year rituals like graduation and prom. These events in these stages are all these people talk about, because it is all that's on their mind. With care and an open mind we reach outside of our own concerns but it's difficult. While the support of someone outside of your life stage in helpful, that person doesn't completely understand what you are going through.

There are things about my experiences as a parent that only Diana understands.  Our mutual empathy and support has really helped us through these first two years of parenting. But there are things about being a mom, that I cannot fully relate to and things about being a dad, that Diana doesn't completely  understand and that is why we are so grateful to have our group of mom and dad friends.

I've had female friends in my social group my entire life and I believe that gender roles should not define our friendships. However there are biological differences between men and woman that go beyond the social construct of gender roles. It is because of this that the support from other parents who have kids around Ollie's age has been so important in our lives.

Diana helped foster an amazing group of moms through a breastfeeding support group and various other connections.  Through those moms, I've been blessed to get to know a great group of dads. We hang out with both moms and dads often but we've also made an effort to have times that we socialize separately.

There are things that I cannot not fully empathize about being a mom with Diana like breastfeeding, pregnancy, societal pressures and sexist comments people make to her about woman and motherhood. I was so happy when this group of moms started coming together. I could see how these people made Diana feel supported and understood in a way that I couldn't. So I did everything I could to make sure she had time with these great women.

When we got together with the moms, dads and our kids, I started befriending these other dads and finding a unique camaraderie I wasn't getting anywhere else. At first it was just guys talking about guy stuff like sports but also mentioning other topics like how our kids were sleeping, paternity leave and work life balance started creeping in. Yes, I knew parents of older kids who had been through these things but it was different with these guys.

We made an effort and got together as a group of guys like the woman had and we had some good times. As our wives had similar parenting philosophies, so did we.  And like with the woman, there was a healthy amount of venting but also reassurances that as difficult as some things were, we all had awesome kids and wives.

It's really hard to find the time. It seems like I'm rushing home from work. I don't have enough time with Ollie, Buffy or Diana, let alone hobbies and simply taking care of the many challenges of life and adulthood. It seems crazy sometimes to try to squeeze in the time to go out for an hour in the evening to just hang out with some other dads. It's difficult sometimes to make this happen. However as I've encouraged Diana to get out there and have some time for herself she has done the same for me.

Time spent with great people who really understand what you are going through as a parent helps make the time you spend with your family quality time. Even though being out late, may make me physically tired the next morning, I always wake up the morning after hanging out with the dads looking forward to being with my family with a renewed sense of purpose and positivity.

Gentlemen, thanks for all the support, looking forward to more good times with y'all.

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