Once you have been a dad for a year or so and that new baby smell (poop) isn’t quite as prevalent, you realize that you’ve been living in a confined little world consisting of work and your family. When you decide to venture out and remember how to adult again, you quickly realize that your friend pool has begun to dwindle. Other dads fully understand that with a new baby, the rest of the world kind of moves on without you and most of the time, we will be right there to sympathize about the worst poop blowouts to the lack of alone time with your old lady over a beer or two (which after a lower tolerance, might just do the trick). But those other friends, those single friends or those who do not have kids yet or maybe never will, they may not fully understand what is happening in your life and why you may have ghosted them for months at a time.
Though it is completely possible to remain friends with your non-dad friends (NDFs), it can be tricky and I am here to tell you that it takes a little more effort to keep these friends. You realize very quickly that you are no longer the hard partying person that you may have been before kids, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has stopped or that because they’re still partying that they are less mature or not responsible. Having a kid doesn’t all of a sudden knight you with adultness, you really are the same person with shifted priorities. Depending on the age that you become a dad, it may take a few years before those NDFs are even awake at the same hours you are to be able to set up a bro-hang. You don’t need to come up with excuses as to why you don’t want to hit up the after-party, tell him that you’ll be up feeding the baby at that time and to text you how it was.
The NDF is a great commodity to have, he is that person that will come over and be an honorary uncle and jungle gym. My friend Bryan is Uncle Bryan to the kids and he loves rough housing and getting them all riled up and running around, and this can be a lot of fun to be a part of, or a great time to go hide in a quiet place for 15 minutes. The best way to give the NDF a glimpse into your crazy world is to have them come over an hour before bedtime so that they can see the wild animals in action and then be able to settle down and relax (sort of). The NDF is great for a happy hour or a sporting event that you know will be kid-free to get some kind of a break from it all. Let’s not forget mom’s NMF, and give them a break too! I’ve been very lucky to have my three best friends as NDFs in three different states and they are great with the kids (one babysat Brennan at 4 months old while I took Lauren to the ER) and they are still great friends and the first people I talk to when I need to vent, grab a beer or just shoot the shhhhhhh. I’m grateful to have Bryan, Glenn and Ricky there to keep me grounded and allow me to keep what sliver of sanity remains.
The most important thing to remember with a NDF is that even though part of you may envy him and his carefree life, I learned from one of my best friends for years and years that they may very well be envious of that happy nest that you have at home; so while venting from time to time is OK, I know that becoming a dad was by far the greatest thing that I have ever done and I wouldn’t change the craziness for anything in the world. Be sensitive to others and try to turn down the narcissism, even if it is one of your few chances to escape. Be proud and be strong out there dads!
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