At right around this time a few weeks ago I was preparing to spend about an hour driving in order to spend some time playing pool with a group of guys that I didn’t know. If you’re thinking that doesn’t sound much like something that I would do, you’re right.
Last summer I wrote a post titled The Loneliness of the Modern Father, one in which I talked about how hard it can be, particularly for dads, to make new friends or to keep in touch with old ones. I also talked about how important it was to make that effort, about a study that claimed that half of all men say that they rarely talk about personal issues or feelings with their friends but that of those, one in three admitted to wishing that they could.
I wrote it, meant it, and then did nothing. I had my old buddies that I talked to every few months on the phone, a group of dad bloggers on the internet to shoot the shit with and a couple guys at work that I met every now and again for beers. I felt fortunate to have that and thought it was good enough.
I thought that right up until last fall when I had a bit of a personal crisis and realized that instead of “keeping my circle small” I had instead been steadily pushing people away. My friend Brandon, the guy from the aforementioned story, really stepped up and a few of those on-line dad blogger friends offered their support but I came to realize that I needed a bit more.
For those that aren’t familiar, the City Dads Group was founded in New York in 2008 by Lance Somerfeld and Matt Schneider, dads tired of the feelings of isolation they were facing as the primary caregivers to their children in a world that still considered that to be the mom’s job. What started as a handful of guys grew to over 900 and in 2013 the concept was expanded nationwide. There are now chapters in over thirty different cities, from Anchorage to Miami, with three major goals:
- Support each other’s efforts to be the best father and parenting partner he can be
- Share parenting perspectives, knowledge and experiences – good and bad – with each other and those who care about them
- Demonstrate that the new reality of parenting includes caring and capable fathers who are actively involved in the upbringing of their children
One of the ways the group encourages this is through “meet-ups” organized activities for dads and their kids and sometimes just to have a dad’s night out.
So I drove an hour, made a few new friends and had a much better time than I would have anticipated. We’re talking about a potential golf outing next, maybe a minor league baseball game. If it ever gets warmer here in New England there will be trips to museums and parks.
I have no idea when I might see these guys again or what may come of it. I’ve also recently rejoined my 9-Ball team and reached out to some other guys that I haven’t seen in a while. At 9:00 most nights I’m still most often to be found at home, wondering what my daughter is going to try to wear to school the following morning or if I have the energy to watch a DVR’d television show with my wife.
I do know that every now and again you need a friend, somebody to talk to. Perhaps just as important is the knowledge that should that day come, there’s somebody to call.