Two years ago, probably around this time of year even, I met a dude who really helped me get out of a very dark place. Greta was just entering the terrible twos, Mrs. Yeti was desperately trying to get the hang of the delicate work/kid balancing act that has since become her life and I was literally drowning in my newfound role of primary care giver. And though I never did anything really crazy to myself or Greta (thank God!) there were days when I felt like Luke Skywalker facing the darkness of his soul in a hollowed out tree on Degobah. All kidding aside, it got pretty hairy.
I loved Greta with all my heart (and still do, of course) but, there were days when I’d sit and stare at the calendar and think: this is it. What you are doing today is the same thing you’re going to be doing tomorrow and every other day after that until you kid goes to school. Dishes. Diapers. Bottles. Repeat. I felt like I was on a punishing loop with no end in sight.
I tried talking to people about how I felt (family and friends mostly) and I think a few of them actually understood what I was trying to say. But, even with them I held things back for fear of sounding too whiny or ungrateful. I mean, we had tried for five years to have Greta, how could I even think of complaining about anything now that she was here? Plus, at that stage all most people really want are current pictures and cute little anecdotes about which milestones Greta had reached that week. Which is totally understandable. I mean, I love sharing that stuff too. But, deep down, all I really wanted to talk about was how totally crazy and isolated I felt for like, 90% of my day.
I tried talking about it with Mrs. Yeti many times, but, as I’ve said before, she was on the same sinking ship that I was. Except she got much less sleep and had to work a full time job on top of everything else. Probably the best thing Mrs. Yeti ever did for me was to tell me, point blank that she did not have time for my problems. And while it stung at first, I totally got it. I didn’t have time for hers either. It’s like that thing they always say in airline safety videos, put on your own oxygen mask first, then help the person next to you. I know now that she was way too busy fumbling with her mask back then to even think about helping me with mine.
That said, Mrs. Yeti did say something else that ended up really helping me out a lot. “If its really that bad, start a blog. Write about it.” She said. “Or better yet, join a Daddy Meetup group or something.” I ended up doing all three but the thing that really saved me from my crazy-ass self was joining that Daddy Meetup group. As I’ve mentioned before, I had a hard time finding the right fit (yes, I’m talking to you, Burbank/Hollywood Dads!) but once I did, it was awesome.
I joined a group called the West L.A. Stay-At-Home-Dads and even though the Meetups were clear on the other side of town, the guys in the group were the most real, down-to-earth dudes I’ve ever met. There was no bullshit, no egos or Hollywood posturing, these guys were regular working dudes (animators, musicians, stuntmen, graphic artists, even fellow writers) who’d been banging around the industry for a while and were now tackling the hardest job of their careers, being a full time stay-at-home-dad. And even though we rarely talked about anything other than movies or Star Wars — or, more recently, the intricacies and hidden messages embedded in My Little Pony cartoons — the fact that we could all find some time every couple of weeks to hang out with people who truly understood what we were going through was invaluable. Hell, two years later, it still is.
Actually, the meetups today are even better because our kids grew up together, they’ve been friends for almost their entire lives. And the friendships the dads have formed over the past two years are stronger too. We might not have known each other for our whole lives, but, definitely our whole lives as parents, which, often times feels like a lifetime in itself. And though none of us ever really verbalized it, deep down we were all eternally grateful to our “founding father” Corey for starting the group. Most of us were way too busy treading water to even think about stating a Meetup group, but Corey wanted to start “the kind of group he’d want to join” so he built it, and, as the saying goes, we came. In droves!
So it was with a heavy heart that the group said goodbye to Corey and his beautiful daughter Katana on Monday. Corey and his family are moving to the Philippines in a couple of weeks, and though we’re all hoping they come back to L.A. real soon, I’m thinking it might be a while before we share a lazy afternoon chasing after our daughters in our favorite park in Westwood again.
So, thank you, dude. You really did save my life and I will always cherish the many hours and days we spent hanging out in parks all across the Southland with our sweet baby girls (who now insist on calling themselves “big girls”). Katana was and always will be Greta’s first best friend and, despite the miles and timezones between us, you, amigo, will always be mine. Keep on adventuring, brother!
And in case anybody reading this is looking for a stay-at-home-dad group to hang with in the L.A. Metro area, Corey asked me to be in charge of the group now that he’s leaving (here’s hoping I don’t destroy all the good that he’s done!) and you can reach us at our new Facebook Group page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WestLAstayathomedads/
So, if you’re interested in joining or know someone who might be, check it out! And thanks again to Corey for starting all this awesomeness…you will be missed, dude.