On October 4, I flew to Washington, D.C. to attend the 17th Annual At-Home Dads Convention. My friend Bill has served as treasurer for the National At-Home Dad Network and he invited me to attend after my family and I decided to have me stay at home with our son. I was excited mostly to hang out with my friend and to spend a weekend in the nation’s capital. The actual convention and meeting other at-home dads were not high on my priority list. In the back of my mind, I thought a convention for at-home dads seemed a bit superfluous and silly. Let me write, unequivocally, my prejudices were wrong. This was a fantastic convention all around.
The leadership of the National At-Home Dad Network and the organizers from D.C. Metro Dads knocked the ball out of the park. Every time someone spoke and during every event planned the values and goals of the convention were clearly embodied. We were there to relax without our kids, we were there to have a good time with food, drink, and laughter, we were there to support other at-home dads, and we were there because we all take our vocations as at-home dads seriously. To sit in a bar watching playoff baseball over drinks and then have the conversation naturally turn to, “What’s the bedtime routine with your kids?” was a huge blessing.
On October 5, the D.C. Metro Dads took a group of us on a bicycle tour of the monuments on the National Mall. What a fantastic way to see the sites honoring important historical events and figures of our nation. I had not been there since I was a kid, so I was able to appreciate some of the newer memorials like those dedicated to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. After the monuments tour we went on a Capitol tour. It was wonderful to breathe in all that history. While some of us enjoyed being tourists, another group of at-home dads served at a local food bank, distributing diapers generously donated by Huggies. Friday night we had a meet and greet sponsored by Safari, Ltd. I find myself grateful for the opportunity to get to know dads coming from different backgrounds, but who are willing to put their careers on hold to serve their families in this specific way. I had a blast hearing about research that one dad is doing on at-home dads as he finishes his doctoral dissertation, or how different dads groups have taken up the hobby of home brewing. These are some fascinating and truly fun men.
While Friday was perhaps my favorite day, the actual convention met on Saturday and I was impressed by the quality of the speakers and helpfulness of the seminars. I appreciated the opportunity to talk with dads whose kids are roughly the same age as my son. We were able to discuss best practices and recommend helpful resources to each other. Of the workshops made available to us, I most appreciated the thoughtful discussion led by Rene Hackney. She gave us helpful skills to shape our kids’ characters so that they listen well and are able to internalize values such as responsibility and diligence. I also sat in on a helpful panel discussion of how different dads are advocating for greater acceptance in society. Many of them said reporters asked if they felt emasculated being at home with their kids. We have a ways to go, but thankfully, through the efforts of these dads and other people, progress is being made.
I’m still new to this at-home dad gig and I saw first-hand just how much I need to work at creating community with other dads and moms doing the same thing. This convention reminded me that being a parent, a stay-at-home parent at that, is a vocation. I’m thankful to have made new friends. I’ll see you guys at the next convention in Denver.