Novice Father: Talking dirty diapers at the dinner table
Eagle County CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” When I was single, I hung out with single friends. When I got a wife, we hung out with couples. And now that we have a 6-month-old daughter, we hang out with new parents. My wife and I made no conscious effort to switch which friends we spend time with. It was always just an abrupt evolution.
We still like our friends who don’t have children. And before the kid was born, we hardly knew any parents. Now we’re essentially surrounded by parents. It feels like everybody in Eagle County had kids at the same time we did.
How did this happen?
We always say we should have our childless friends over for dinner, but we never make the effort.
“When you have friends over for dinner, you can’t pay much attention to them because you’re trying to keep the kids out of the rat poison and razor blades,” said Charlie Stocker, father of three daughters (seven, five and three) in Eagle.
Our social activities tend to center around baby activities. My wife walks with packs of stroller-pushing mommas. They’re an intimidating sight if you happen to be walking on the same sidewalk. If we want to do something without our daughter, we need to plan ahead for babysitters. So even going out to the movies or on a Saturday bike ride is a logistical event. Even when we bring our daughter to a dinner or a party, we’re limited to how late we can stay out. There’s only so long you can stash the sleeping kid in a corner.
It amazes me how fast we collected new parent friends. My wife did the bulk of the heavy lifting, passively recruiting from her myriad of prenatal yoga, baby and me classes, and momma’s day out lunches.
Even though I don’t attend any classes (though a neighbor did suggest Daddy and Me Poker Night), I do find small talk is easy with young fathers. Instead of grasping for topics on work and the weather, we dive right into poops, spit-up stained dress shirts and complaining wives (only theirs ” not mine, of course). It’s an endless supply of material.
Stocker noted how he often gets self-conscious around his friends without children. He’s always afraid he and his wife dominate the conversation, talking about their children.
“I have to definitely give it some conscious thought because the kids are always a priority and there’s always something to talk about,” he said. “It’s hard to check that excitement sometimes. I have no doubt that we have overdone it in the past.”
New dad Daniel Hychalk found that he hasn’t replaced his childless friends, he just can’t find the time to see them as much as he used to.
“You kind of have different values than the other people. You tend to spend more time at home. You have to adjust your schedule for the little guy,” the Avon-based father said.
I’d like to get back in touch with my childless friends. They’re really great people. That means I’ll have to start calling around for a babysitter. I promise not to talk about dirty diapers at the dinner table.
Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. E-mail comments or questions about this column to email@example.com.