Question: What happens when a load of dads get on a boat on the Thames for an afternoon?
It was the end of our holiday in Cornwall – more about that to follow – and I was feeling a bit flat.
“Haven’t you got that dad event to go to?” asked Mrs B as she placed Baby B on the bed.
“Do you really not mind looking after him?” I said as Baby B tried to insert his finger into my eye again.
“I think it would be good for you to meet some other dad bloggers…” Mrs B started to say, but I’d already got dressed and run out of the house toward the train station laughing hysterically and clicking my heels.
OK not really – but it was with a mixture of excitement and nervousness that I set off into London later that morning for The Day Of The Dad.
Excited for the obvious reason – I was off to drink beer on a boat with some blokes. Nervous, well, because I’d only chatted to some of them on Twitter and it felt a bit weird, not having done this blog meet up stuff before.
I needn’t have worried. Al from The Dad Network had organised the event and he’d been tweeting enthusiastically all morning. I honestly don’t know how he finds the time to do this stuff as well as blog and work as a teacher full time. I am in awe. Anyway, turns out he isn’t a super computer powered android, but he is a very nice chap. As were the other dads I met on The Day of the Dad (I keep wanting to add an S but I don’t think there was one).
The meet up was on The Tattershall Castle and Al had even organised for the Red Arrows to fly overhead just as I was arriving! (Well, the Queen’s birthday might have had something to do with that but it was very impressive.)
Like any event where people don’t know each other it took a beer or two to get the conversation flowing but I met some really interesting people.
(I am hopeless with names so if any of the following dads read this and let me know who you are I’ll happily link to your blogs.)
There was the craft beer enthusiast who had gone on holiday to Chernobyl and told me all about the eerie beauty of the restricted zone where nature has reclaimed the earth, a lovely Spanish video and radio producer, an HGV driver from Essex who humbled me with his love and care for his special needs son.
And I met two bloggers I’ve followed for a long time – Dad You Geek and Dad Blog UK – both called John (easy to remember their names! I didn’t manage to speak to Dean of Dawn of the Dad or Martyn from Inside Martyn’s Thoughts – so I hope to see them again in future.
Everyone knows the cliche about men not being very good at talking about feelings and I think we need to knock this on the head and say it’s absolute bollocks right now. OK, we might not pour our hearts out at the drop of a beer mat but we do want to share our experiences of fatherhood and learn and laugh about the ups and downs of parenting; how it affects our view of who we are, our relationships, our jobs, and the sheer joy that does come (between the sleep deprivation and poonamis) of caring for our children.
I think it’s really important that dads stand up and be counted and be proud and confident about being parents. Society doesn’t always make it easy to mix work and child care for either gender but I think there also remains an old fashioned assumption that it’s mums who are the ones who do it all.
That’s not to say they don’t in many cases do the bulk of the graft – lest I incur the wrath of any mums reading this! But the more that dads feel it’s also their place to get hands on and not be worried about cocking it up now and then the better for their children, partners, and society as a whole.
I’m the first to admit I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes and Mrs B is still far more organised and able than me at knowing when to but I’m getting better (I hope)! But I do think a lot of new dads especially can feel lost, a bit useless at times, and emotionally all over the shop but don’t always know who to talk to about it.
Let’s face it when you meet up with your mates the conversation tends not to revolve around children – maybe because you’re the only one with a baby or because you all need a break, or it just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do, like there’s an unwritten man-rule about leaving the baby chat at home.
However, it turns out we actually have a lot of interesting views on parenting and I think dads need to support each other and keep pushing for a more family friendly society. Al told me there isn’t another established dad blogger event in the UK despite the large number of successful ones for mums and I really hope Day of the Dad continues to grow in popularity as our children grow in size and cheekiness!
Finally, the Day of the Dad event was in partnership with The Lullaby Trust and several of the dads on board this weekend were manfully growing facial hair with no hope of ever being hipsters to raise money for #BeardsForBabies – please support this great cause providing specialist support for bereaved families and anyone affected by a sudden infant death.
And you can catch up on The Dad Network.
Categories: Being Dad