One of my favorite songs by the artist PJ morton is the song Mathematics. Here are a few of the lyrics…
Mathematics. Subtraction and adding. That’s the name of life. First you heard it. Then you look it’s past tense. That’s the game of life. Friends…I tell you how you know they’re real. Through the hard times are they still…even through the bad times…Friends love you all the time.
There’s something sweetly satisfying to be a part of a tribe. That’s what I’ve been fortunate enough to find with a few of my close brothers in this journey we call life. From Reggie and Yusef, my closest friends since high school- we ran the streets of Charleston, SC dreaming about our futures over 17 years ago. And now, here we are each of of living the lives of our dreams. I read something recently that said that those who share their dreams with friends are 76.7% more likely to achieve them. I think we’re living testimonies of this statistic. When I need to recalibrate, celebrate, or simply need encouragement to stay on the path this is my tribe that I lean on.
Then there’s my crew of dads. Over the past decade or so we’ve gone through this journey of fatherhood together. What began as relationships by association (our wives actually began as closer friends than we did), has now blossomed into truly deep friendships. If I have a marriage or fatherhood issue, this is my tribe.
This weekend our wives had a mini-girls getaway and the dads were left to fend for ourselves with the kids. So I called one of the dads and concocted a plan to tag team our efforts. We met up with the kids and hung out at Jump Jump before getting caught in a downpour while eating ice cream. Of course as usual, dads do things a little differently. We’re sitting and chatting while the kids are running rampant through bouncy castles and trampolines. Then of course as the big kids that we are we join the fun, bouncing around ourselves and everybody has a blast. I can still hear the kids screaming now, my daddy’s gonna slide down the slide too!
As always, the tribe comes through, right when we need it. Each of us are feeling the pressures of school winding down for the kids, work transitions on the horizon, planning and budgeting for future vacations, expenses, etc…but it was good to just sit back and talk it out with another dad for a little while. We had our own little getaway.
After we escaped to the van from the downpour I decided to stop by the grocery store and do a bit of shopping on our way home. This is always a bit of a risk with 3 kids in tow, but hey, I was feeling adventurous. Besides, I figured we could get in and out quick enough to be home and in bed by 8pm (spoiler alert- that didn’t happen- try 9pm). Anyway, as usual when I’m walking through the store by myself with the girls I tend to get a few stares of admiration and comments (usually from older women). Things like, aww, such cute girls or I bet you have your hands full dad! One lady who pulled her cart up next to ours started talking to London (she’s usually the first magnet- she’ll literally smile and wave to anyone!). Then, she addressed me saying, dad, this is awesome. You don’t know it, but years later your girls will look back and really appreciate this. You’re doing the right thing. I smiled, mumbled some sort of thanks and then off we went.
There used to be a time early on as a dad when I’d be offended by an interaction like this. Who is this lady? Why does she think it’s such as big deal that I’m spending time with my kids? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Such low expectations for dads…I don’t want a participation trophy for doing what I’m supposed to do…Isn’t it interesting how things change with a little more perspective? Now, I consider even the interlopers to be a part of my tribe. Dropping in and sharing words of wisdom or encouragement, often at just the right times. Just like the lady who rescued London from the bouncy castle earlier in the day. She wasn’t meddling, she was helping while I had my hands full…err…was distracted talking.
No matter how much we want to be able to prove that we can in fact do it all by ourselves, we can’t. In fact, the more we try, the less it seems we can accomplish. I know it takes a village of friends, family, mentors, and healthy doses of Samantha Wakefield my #1 confidant to keep me going. Why shouldn’t it be the same for fathers in our efforts to raise our kids? So to all the dads out there, while you’re busy holding up your end of the bargain, don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help when you need it. And, when you’re in a position to, remember to pay it forward to those in your own tribe.