Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Filling the Friendship Void

One of the things that I've noticed since becoming an at-home Dad is the absence of my friends.

I have four friends whom I've known for years. Three I've been friends with since Junior High, the fourth since high school. Before getting married, I would see some combination of them at least a couple of times per week.

Since having JD, they've been almost absent.

Three of them don't have cars. All four live two miles or less from me. And yet I rarely see them. One I see about once a week because we play on a men's league hockey team. If it wasn't for that, I don't know how often I would see him. It's come down to this: they've become drinking buddies.

I don't want to blame them entirely. Two of them have made a greater effort than the other two. One's work schedule runs late as he works roughly from noon till eight. Of course, that is bad timing for my lifestyle. The other has a serious girlfriend and works long hours. I certainly know what that's like. The others, like I said, I see on drinking occasions.

It's kind of like the stereotype about football players not going to hospitals to visit an injured teammate. They don't want a jinx. Our guy friends don't want a wife and kids just yet and maybe by staying away, they won't fall into the trap.

They're out living their lives. Their day-to-day doesn't involve changing diapers. I have to go out and make friends that share my lifestyle. They've made friends who are closer to their lifestyle.

Fortunately, I have found some new friends.

I consider the women in the playgroup I joined almost nine months ago my friends. They are a terrific group. So welcoming, I never felt like an outsider. After coming a couple of times, they have included me in their occasional social outings with and without our families. I don't talk to any of them outside of the playgroup.

The person I have become close with is the husband of a friend of my wife. Their son is about three months younger than JD. Basically, we're going through the same things. He and I have become good friends. I would say it was partially out of necessity. He's going through the same thing that I'm going through with my friends. We have a lot in common, from golf to hockey, he's from Michigan and I've spent a lot of time in Michigan. He's short and I'm tall. Oh, yeah, we both like to drink.

We talk almost every day now. It's about sports and diapers, baby food and finances. We're guys who have similar interests and are in a similar place in life. I'd have to say that I'm pretty lucky to have made such a friend.

I can't say that it doesn't hurt that my "old friends" rarely come around. They haven't taken an active interest in my life. I rarely get calls asking how JD is doing or about the funny thing that happened last weekend.

When I'm with the playgroup, they're a lot of fun. Their kids are great and we have a generally similar sense of child rearing and conversation.

When I'm with my new buddy, we have laugh-out-loud fun and have lots to talk about. It's like a new relationship - everything is new and it's easy to create new memories. We have a great excuse to get together and are happy to do so because we've found a friend. And it fills a void that was left in going into this amazing part of my life.

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