I knew that, when we had a baby, my wife and I would have to make friends with other parents. It’s just something that happens. You see each other in the drop-off lane, you take your kid over for a play date. Eventually, people are going to start pairing off. It’s like college. However, what I didn’t expect was that my wife’s parent-friends would be so much cooler than mine.
(Let me pause for a moment and tell all of my dad-friends that you’re beautiful and special and I’m free to go see "Captain America: Civil War" any time this week.)
Maybe it’s just the luck of the draw or a weird statistical anomaly in our area, but we know way, WAY more cool moms than cool dads. And I hate that. I want to be a part of a fun dad crew. The kind of dads who … OK, I’m not sure where to go with this because I don’t know that many fun dads. What do fun dads DO? Go paintballing? Restore cars? See? I’m a dad and I can’t even visualize what fun things I should be doing as a dad.
But the moms in our area? Delightful. Well, I mean, not all of them—some are … whew, don’t get me started—but, overall, there’s a spark in the local mom community that the dads just can’t compete with.
The moms are funny. Like legitimately funny. Yes, there’s sometimes a snarky edge, but isn’t that great? You need snark sometimes. Nothing bonds a group of strangers like being snarky about a person you collectively dislike. But they know how to make conversation. And they watch all the best TV shows. And they read great books. And they GO OUT and do things. FUN things. Together.
Now that last bit—the fact that moms go out more regularly—I think says more about adult male friendships than female friendships.
I can tell you from experience, making friends as an adult male is damn awkward.
I can tell you from experience, making friends as an adult male is damn awkward. If you’ve known the other guy since high school, yeah, going out and grabbing a drink or going to a ball game is no big deal. But if you don’t have a history with your “new friend,” calling him up to say “Hey, wanna go do something?” is more awkward than asking a girl to your first Homecoming Dance.
My wife, realizing that I’m a fairly solitary guy, once “fixed me up” with a guy in her office because he was new in town and she thought we’d get along great. That’s the term she used, “fix me up.” And the even-worse term “man-date” got thrown around a lot too. While it was funny (and eventually her office-mate and I did become good friends), it was really telling that the simple notion of two dudes going to a movie together seemed so foreign and weird that it was easily mocked as a laughable “romantic” excursion.
And I’ve had similar “hook-ups” since I’ve become a dad—exotic nights out of seeing a movie or bowling—and they’ve been similarly awkward.
However, hanging out with moms feels so easy in comparison. Moms are used to hanging out. They’re used to doing things in groups, so relaxing together doesn’t seem to be a big thing. It’s a usual part of the mom experience or, at the very least, “Moms’ Night Out” is never described in awkward first-date terms.
Maybe that’s why the moms seem so much cooler than the dads. Because to me, as an outsider, it looks so effortless when they socialize.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe, as an outsider, I’m reading the situation wrong. Maybe all those moms—going out for drinks or hosting their monthly book clubs—are just going through the motions. Maybe they’re dying on the inside, wishing, praying that, one day, they could just sit silently at a bar next to another person watching a college football game.
I hope that’s not the case. Because they legitimately look like they’re enjoying themselves and the company of their mom-peers. I hope that those easy smiles are coming as easily as they look.
But I’ll always remain on the outside looking in, enjoying the fleeting moments of parental group socialization before someone says, “Why don’t you show the boys what you’ve got in the garage?” or “I want to show the ladies something in the house” and we split apart, leaving me jealous that my wife’s new besties look like they’re having a lot more fun than mine.
In an ideal world, there would be more dad-mom co-mingling, but there’s not really a good way for a dad to request a play date with a mom without it sounding super-duper creepy.
Instead, I’ll just be happy for my wife. She’s found such a great mom community and has made such awesome like-minded mom-friends. And I’ll nod politely at all the dads I see and maybe go see an action movie or a ballgame with them once or twice a year. I know a lot of this is my own personal baggage, but I really do think it’s a shame that dads, on a whole, aren’t nearly as social as moms.
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy all the mom-time I get and try not to get too sulky when it’s time for dads to do “dad things.” It’s just part of being a parent, I guess.