Kindergarten: I like soccer. Me too. Let’s be friends.
Middle School: I like girls. Me too. Let’s be friends.
High School: I can burp the periodic table. Me too. Let’s be friends.
College: I like beer. Me too. Let’s be friends.
Now I’m sure there is something more to guy-friendships than girls, sports, and beer, but I think that pretty much sums it up. Your elementary school through college buddies are the ones you grew up with. The guy who laughed while you puked Natural Light all over your parent’s garage and the fraternity brother who knows you fart loudly in your sleep but shared a room with you anyway. These guys were the first ones to congratulate you on your first job and stood next to you on your wedding day.
Odds are, those guys don’t live anywhere near you and now you have a screaming toddler who just peed on your shoes and you need to get out of the house before you give yourself a vasectomy with a nail file.
Who do you call?
We moved to a new city just after my son was born. Here, no one knows us for our drunken college escapades; they only know us as parents. Responsible, busy, sober, boring parents. And while my son and I have lucked into a plethora of friends through playgroup and La Leche League, my husband is at a loss. And I know he’s not the only one looking for a bro-mance. A friend told me recently that her husband was watching TV and said, “Wow. So that’s what it looks like to go out and have a drink with the guys. I almost forgot.” But what can we do? Most of our husbands are at work during the day and weekends are filled with “family time.” Not to mention, where is a guy supposed to meet another guy? Work? Temple?
I know us Mamas lament about how HARD it is for us once our children are born. Our bodies and responsibilities are different and we’re just plain exhausted. Let’s stop for a minute and acknowledge how much HARDER it must be for our husbands? Your wife’s body image is in the dumps and you’re not allowed to touch her boobs for fear of being squirted with milk, yet you still find her ravishing and well, you have needs. You can only turn on the TV from 1:30-2 p.m. to let your child watch Thomas the Train and you didn’t even bother to make a bracket for March Madness because you have no one to watch the games with and your wife will probably put it in the recycling basket before the tournament has even started.
You need a man-date.
I’ve tried to set my husband up with other husbands. Similar to a playdate, only grown men have no intentions of chatting about their kids’ shit all afternoon.
MAN DATE: “So my wife tells me you like hockey. Yep. Cool. <awkward silence>”
MAN DATE: “How many kids do you have? Two girls. I have one, a boy. Cool. <awkward silence>”
MAN DATE: “Want a beer? I can’t, I have to get up early for work tomorrow. Cool. Me too. <awkward silence>”
MAN DATE: “Blah, blah my job is so important, I’m so important, I want you to be impressed with me so I might never stop talking. <wishing for awkward silence>”
Lesson learned. Just because I have a friend doesn’t mean that my husband wants to hang out with her husband. Group settings like birthday parties and family pot-lucks have worked a little better. My husband can chat with dads he likes and take care of my son during the conversations he finds less than interesting. It isn’t perfect and I’m still trying to find a way for these group settings to manifest into MAN FRIENDSHIPS because I know I’m not enough. He needs a few people he can golf with, grab a drink with, or just BE A GUY WITH. But aside from posting an ad on Craigslist or having him walk around with a sign on his back that reads “Need a low-key guy to grab a beer with when my kids and wife are driving me effing nuts,” I’m at a loss.
Dads, I feel for you. I wish it were easier because you deserve more than once a week sex and a lego tower. You need a rugged man to fill all of the empty holes in your soul that fatherhood and being a husband have slowly stripped away. You’re a great dad and a wonderful husband, and you deserve to eat whatever kind of chicken wings you want while watching sports on TV. I salute you.