Editor’s Note: Australian at-home dad Rory Chambers moved to Manhattan earlier this year and quickly discovered a new band of brothers to hang with: Our NYC Dads Group. He recently posted a version of this tale on his blog Rory’s Stories about finding his community and his experience participating in a recent International Babywearing Week event. Enjoy.
Upon arriving in a brand new city with no significant opportunity for “natural” community that might otherwise be found at a workplace, I did what any self-respecting digital native would do and Googled “stay at home dads NYC.” Thank you, internet: NYC Dad’s Group, take a bow.
Meetup.com has pretty much become my go-to for finding people to hang out with. Being a (sort of) housebound extrovert has its challenges and I’m increasingly thankful that we moved here in the summer before I got really housebound.
Turns out there’s a whole swag of dads groups around the country … (that are) really passionate about seeing dads get a bit more exposure as part of the public face of full-time parenting other than just “the backup parent,” “Mr. Mum” or, most patronizingly, “the babysitter today.” I appreciate that a lot.
I’ve only been to a couple of events, but I just got home from one that turned a lot of heads: a small flotilla of dads with their kids in Britax baby carriers all cruising the High Line together. It was great! Britax sent us all a free carrier so long as we all promised to get out during International Babywearing Week and share the love.
Honestly, I took a while to get comfortable wearing Ele (both physically and socially) but I’m all over it now. I love it. For a start, it makes getting around the city so much easier than using a stroller and it’s really nice to have her right there in front of me to play with, talk to and make faces at. When we first got here and I would take her out in the stroller, I’d feel kinda disconnected from her as we cruised along with her facing away from me. Today, I discovered that she’ll bust a gut laughing if I chew on her fingers.
I did feel pretty conspicuous at first and to some extent I still do, but really it’s just another thing that I could choose to feel conspicuous about, or I could just decide not to care. Choosing the latter has been lots more freeing and fun. She makes for great conversation at stoplights and on the subway, she’s fun to play with when she’s right there in front of me and every now and then – if I’m really lucky – she’ll fall asleep on my chest and there are few greater feelings than that.
As for the event itself – it was a perfect day for it: Beautiful sun, blue skies and enough other people cruising the park to make for a really great photo op. Or two. Or twelve. I met a bunch of guys and their kids, got a few tips on some great NYC stuff to check out, got stopped by several tourists (all of them Australian, strangely enough) asking what was going on:
Her: “Why are there so many dads carrying their babies around?”
Me: “Because it’s a good thing to do.”
That particular woman also reminded me about that Aussie show House Husbands, which I’ve never watched but apparently it’s good. It’s got Gary Sweet in it, so hopefully there’s some rappelling down a skyscraper with a kid in a carrier somewhere in there. Anyway, we got a lot of “aww”s and “oh, cuuute”s as we walked along, so I’d say the event was pretty successful at raising the profile of dads being dads.
So, way to go NYC Dad’s group, Britax for your generosity and all you dads who do a kick arse job at being parents. I’m glad to be among you.