It sounds like a charity, and in a way, it is. It’s the monthly gathering of the Baltimore at-home dads group where we offer charity to ourselves in liquid form.
Each week, we gather with the kiddos for outings to the library and the zoo. But those of us lucky enough to receive a hall pass (permission from Mommy – or a night she’s not working) pick some Charm City watering hole and set up camp for the night.
We catch up on who’s potty training and who’s buying a new house. Which guy has another baby on the way and who might be going back to work. There’s the requisite amount of sports talk, but really, the topic doesn’t matter. What matters is that we take a break from nurturing our kids day in and day out, and we nurture ourselves for awhile. We find community, sympathy and advice.
One night earlier this year, there must have been a dozen of us with at least 20 children among us. One guy is a DJ with a first-grader and 4-year-old twins. One dad was born in Spain and is trying to raise his 2-year-old son bilingual. Another went back to work a year ago (hates it) after his wife said it was time to swap. And one guy wasn’t even an at-home dad yet. He found us before his first child was born, and he wanted advice on taking the plunge.
We didn’t always know each other. I met two other at-home dads in an international play group I stumbled upon after we moved to Baltimore in 2004. I found a local at-home dads group through meetups.com, but it never panned out. A guy through that got in touch with me, and by late 2006, some dads he knew and some dads I knew got together for the first time.
Since then, we’ve taken our children to pick strawberries and we’ve watched airplanes land at BWI. We’ve kept each other’s children during moves and ski trips, and we’ve visited the paddocks at Pimlico. A documentary filmmaker has followed us and tried to make sense of it all. (Check back when the kids are grown.)
If it weren’t for these guys, I’d have gone crazy long loooooooooooong ago.
These are my people.