I think all parents feel alone sometimes. Which is weird, right? We bring life into the world. We nurture it and help it grow, and yet sometimes after the jobs are worked and the dinners are cooked, the talks talked and kisses kissed, we go to bed and feel The Lonely creeping in.

John Kinnear

John Kinnear

For me, the sense of isolation originated from my realization that everyday decisions suddenly had a lot more weight to them. Simple things became big things. The “what ifs” ate away at me until I started questioning every decision I made. Unfortunately, since I was also ridiculously busy, the only time I had to question my adequacy as a parent was while I was trying (and failing) to fall asleep.

The insomnia that plagued me during my daughter’s first year had little to do with her sleep schedule. I was a wreck with worry. My day was packed with high-intensity joy, but my nights were shrouded in anxiety. It was so strange to me that such a universal thing like parenting could send me off into a private orbit.

My saving grace was my wife. She was and is fantastic. But my nervous nature, combined with her adjustment to motherhood, was a heavy weight for her to carry. I think that may be why she pushed me to write. When she said, “You should start a blog. I love your writing,” she probably really meant, “You know all this stuff you ramble on and on about? You should write that shit down so I can get some sleep.”

So I did. I wrote about how happy I was to be a dad, but also about how frustrated I felt. I wrote about the decisions we were grappling with. I wrote about how little I knew about being a father, and how I was struggling to grasp what it meant. And while the writing was both cathartic and empowering, there was a second and completely unforeseen benefit of starting my blog: I found myself amid a community of like-minded dads who also like to worry out loud. And celebrate. And expound. And rage. And break down. And word-vomit.

Now, I know men who have been through, are going through, or are about to go through what I am experiencing every day. We are alike, but also incredibly diverse and different. Gay dads. Single dads. Married dads. City dads. Country dads. Liberal and conservative dads. Muslim, Jewish, Christian, atheist, you name it. I even know a couple Canadians now. (They have dads in Canada! Who knew?)

When it comes to male friendships, there has always been a certain amount of chest puffing that I think gets programmed into boys and men from birth. When guys are around each other, there is this mask of manliness that we get used to wearing. Within my dad community, that mask comes off. The dads I’ve met through blogging have gotten to know me in a different context. An honest and, at times, vulnerable context. The crazy thing is, it doesn’t make me feel week or less manly. I feel stronger—even when I am at my weakest.

This brotherhood of fathers gives me the important perspective that good parenting is done in the aggregate. Amid all of the great things we do as dads, we’ve all made a million mistakes. Each of us has to define his own experience. We all have to define fatherhood within the contexts of our respective lives, but we don’t have to do it alone.

Our community sustains me in ways I never knew I needed sustaining. And it has made me a better man, a better father, and most importantly, a better sleeper.

John Kinnear is the father of two tiny humans. He writes Ask Your Dad Blog.

Opinions expressed on Words on Wednesday guest posts are those of the author and not of Dad 2.0 Summit, XY Media LLC, its management or employees.


So … how’d you like three free nights at the Westin?

November 18, 2014

As you read yesterday, Dove Men+Care is back for Round Three as Title Sponsor of the Dad 2.0 Summit. And just as they’ve done the previous two years, they want punctuate their role as Hospitality Sponsor and underwrite another hotel giveaway! Dove Men+Care first orchestrated  this effort in 2013, and the parameters remain the same. We’ll [...]

Read the full article →

Monday Conference Call: Dove Men+Care returns as Title Sponsor!

November 17, 2014

The sports lovers among us know that a hat trick is when someone scores three goals in a game. And whether that game is hockey, soccer, team handball, or just some rainy-day game your 6-year-old invented with an umbrella and a balled-up pair of socks, a hat trick is a pretty big deal. That’s why [...]

Read the full article →

It’s time for a Dad 2.0 Scholarship, because dads take care of our own

November 12, 2014

I came from middle-class privilege, but after a 1985 vacation to Jamaica, I began to question my dumb luck. I was 8 years old, a pup, and as we were driven to a restaurant to watch Villanova play Georgetown in the men’s NCAA basketball championship, we passed a heap of tent cities tucked into a [...]

Read the full article →

Monday Conference Call: LEGO Systems returns to Dad 2.0!

November 10, 2014

Happy MOnday, dads! This is the second MOnday of MOvember, and the MOs of our 63-strong team of #MOvemberDads are starting to come in. If you’ve already contributed to our efforts to raise money for research into curing men’s cancers and other health problem, thank you! And if not, thank you in advance for clicking here and [...]

Read the full article →

Motherhood means never having to say you’re sorry (and we wish you would)

November 5, 2014

Women apologize more than men. Studies have proved it. Commercial campaigns have been built around it. “Women apologize all the time,” we’re told. If anything, women need to stop saying “I’m sorry” so often. Except they don’t. While women may apologize all the time at work, in life, to friends, or to their kids, there is one area where women [...]

Read the full article →

Monday Conference Call: Announcing our first Presenting Sponsor, Kia Motors!

November 3, 2014

As the sun rises on a new week, we hope you and your kids had a joyous and safe Halloween. We also want to give this dad his due as creator of Baby Costume of the Year. Now that we’ve packed our prodigious plastic pumpkins, it’s time to grow that Movember mustache and help raise [...]

Read the full article →

Fatherhood Friday: On mustaches and Milky Ways

October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! For many of us dads, tomorrow means two important things: 1) winnowing all the “good candy” from the candy corn and malted milk balls, and 2) prepping for Movember! If you haven’t signed up and joined the Dads/Bloggers team, now’s the time! (For the uninitiated, co-founder Doug French writes about the movement’s history here, [...]

Read the full article →

The Brilliant Anxiety: Why I chose the life of a work-at-home parent

October 29, 2014

Welcome to my office. I am sitting in my family room, on my couch, typing away on my laptop. My ceiling fan turns above me, gently stirring the air. Sunlight casts louvered shadows through the blinds across my carpet. My coffee is still warm. I am at home. I have just escorted my young sons [...]

Read the full article →

You can’t spell “Monday Conference Call” without a Mo

October 27, 2014

Good Monday, everyone! Today we have but two objectives–and each involves plugging into our community of dads. If Dad 2.015 will be your first Summit experience, welcome. You’re in for a treat. You’re also going to hear a lot about our myriad resources for making your trip to San Francisco as rewarding as possible. In [...]

Read the full article →