Six months ago, my wife and I decided it was time our daughter got out a bit more. Being six months old and spending all day with dad was undoubtedly putting her future ability to relate to other kids at risk, so we began looking for a playgroup. As the person who would be accompanying her, I searched high and low for a dad's group, or at the least a group that didn't have the word 'mommy' in its title.
I finally found one at a local children's center, a sort of progressive daycare/playgroup space that was recommended to us by a few friends. I approached the first day with a bit of trepidation and couldn't help a quick look around for another dad when I walked in the door. Nope. Just me.
I am a fairly open-minded guy but there was a part of me that didn't want to be the only male at the party, the same part that declined the invitation to join my wife's book club (a good call, by the way). Call it insecurity, call it Neanderthalism, call it what you like but I can't deny my initial reluctance. I guess I didn't want to be uncomfortable, nor did I want the women to feel that way either.
Six months later and I must admit I look forward to Tuesday afternoon playgroup more than I ever thought I would. We spend each session checking in, giving and getting advice, sharing resources and celebrating milestones. And the kids have fun too. I was welcomed from the get-go and it hasn't been uncomfortable in the least. Sure, there have been a few teary-eyed check-ins where I mostly looked at my shoes, and when the talk turns to breastfeeding I don't have much to offer, but I like to think my opinion is valued and my unique viewpoint is welcomed.
Being the only man there sets me apart, there is no denying it. But the fact that we are all new parents navigating in unfamiliar waters renders that difference insignificant when compared to our commonalities.
It would be great to hear from other dads out there who find themselves in the same situation. I am also curious to hear from those who either sponsor playgroups in their own home or attend one in a friend's home--what is the mom-to-dad ratio?
(Image: Richard Popovic)