I knew I’d miss my friends when we moved, but I didn’t realize how much it would affect my mental health. We never had a huge circle of friends, but definitely had people we loved and could count on.
I used to be a social person; I don’t know what happened. Moving around the country after college made it harder to keep it touch with friends from school, but I also made life-long friends with people I worked with in the process. Most of my friends came from work, or friends/family of those friends. Which makes sense; we don’t tend to make best friends with someone you meet at Publix or the chiropractor. Although, only a wonderful human being can make your back feel better, so perhaps they should be my friend.
Last week I went to the park like I always do, with my daughter in tow, waiting to pick up my son from school. Some days we’re the only people there; on others, several moms meet up with their kids. But the other day was the first time I had more than a two minute conversation with another parent (that I didn’t know beforehand), and I couldn’t believe how much it affected me. She was a very sweet, genuine person. I don’t believe she had met many stay at home dads, so perhaps that made her a bit curious; I don’t care why, it was still nice to have someone to talk to. I know that sounds pathetic, but I think some moms I’ve encountered at the park seem hesitant to talk (I’m sure the previous mullet didn’t help). And I certainly don’t blame them; men are garbage and can’t be trusted. Plus, I think we’re all, in our own way, more guarded when we have our kids around.
Sadly enough, my new friend is moving next month. Her husband’s job is relocating them. Not that she would’ve become my new best friend, but still sad. I’m sharing all of this because you just never know when you’re going to make someone’s day, or potentially change someone’s outlook. I couldn’t believe how much better my day was just by having a conversation with someone. And she’ll never know how much that basic interaction helped me.
Even before this, Jessika was helping me meet people, because she’s a good person and wants me to be happy. She reached out to some other moms on Facebook and explained my somewhat unusual situation: stay at home dad has no friends and maybe wants to meet people. Sure enough, a few moms responded with a “my husband too.” I met a nice group of moms who meet at a park with their kids, one of which knew of another stay at home dad who joins them occasionally. So who knows, they could be new friends too. Reece made friends quicker than I did. One of the kids had a Pokemon toy, and that sparked an hour of running around and talking about Pokemon.
Later this week I’ll be meeting another dad at our library’s “story time.” In January I plan on playing in an adult rec basketball league. Even if I don’t encounter anyone I’d become friends with, hopefully I’ll get some exercise and have a little fun. Outside of friends and family, I probably miss playing sports more than anything. You need incredible motivation to stay in shape as a adult, when work and kids make it difficult. I played in rec leagues in Seattle and Portland, and they were awesome.
Admittedly, this feels weird to talk about. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you “need” anything, but it’s become clear to me that I need occasional interactions with people who aren’t my kids. We’ll see how it goes. If none of this works, maybe I’ll just start posting the picture above around town with my phone number.