What I did
I attended the 19th Annual At Home Dad Conference
Why I went.
I have only been an at home dad for a year, why did I feel it was important to attend the National at Home Dad Convention? Because I care about myself. While that sounds very selfish it wasn't intended in that manner. Being at home is a lonely business, 80% of my conversations have been with humans under the age of 4. I love my wife and kids but I felt it was important for me to go, and so did my wife.
What I knew before I went
I had met these guys online and had conversations with them. Shared ideas, thoughts, successes and failures. We live a life in solitude and isolation but it's good to know that help and an understanding friend was just a Facebook message away.
What I learned
I share a bond with these guys from all corners of the country, even Canada. We know there are more of us out there and bringing the convention to as many Stay at Home Dads as possible is my new agenda. Support can come from anyone, even a stranger. You don't have to live in isolation. If you just reach out there is someone there to help you and who needs your help. The online acquaintances can quickly transform into friends. The bonds we share make us comfortable with each other. It doesn't matter if we get along. We all have a deep love for our children.
Who I met
I met people from all walks of life and all shapes and sizes. The conversation ranged from sippy cups to sports. I met guys that cared for one another even though they had just met. I met Dads who only see each other once year at the convention and talked like they just saw each other yesterday. I even got to chat with Dads who had twins like me. But most importantly, I made friends. The group of strangers formed into a group of friends over the three days.
What happened at the convention
Upon arrival we met in a small group and headed to the hotel. Introductions rarely occurred, it was more of a "nice to finally meet you" conversation.
We started off with a service project where we sorted food donations at the Food Bank of the Rockies. Our work contributed to 8,260 meals.
This is where I met the president of the network. It was the first time we have met face to face and I was curious how the meeting of all the internet friends would go. I realized how close the SAHD bond was right away when he gave me a hug and thanked me for coming and said its nice to finally meet you.
That night we went for a Dad's night out with the Denver Dads Group to a Rockies Game at Coors Field. We witnessed a walk off win for the Rockies, if you were lucky enough to stay through the end.
The next morning brought more fun before the meat and potato of the convention began. We made the trek to voodoo doughnuts where I valiantly attempted to eat a very large donut (six regular donuts) in 80 seconds or less. That would be the only failure of the weekend.
That afternoon we listened to Alberto Pellicer talk about the importance of play. We had aN informative presentation from car seats manufacture Britax. They even gave away car seats (I didn't win). A guest panel of some of the wives of at home dads presented as well. It was amazing insight to how the other half view us.
The speaker, Barbara Colorosso, the parenting expert, was amazing! She was funny, witty and informative...as well as a former nun!
We also he breakout sessions, including but not limited to, age based discussions, photography, literacy and starting a dads group. There was even a meeting in which we elected members to the board and went over business for the network.
The weekend was filled with good times, great new friends, and learning experiences that will last a lifetime. The most important lesson is this; I am not alone! There are others that may be different than me but we share a bond that will carry us through trying times as Stay at Home Dads. I'll see you in Raleigh for next year's convention.