This past spring, my husband Jon decided to quit playing softball—something he’d done every summer since I met him 16 years ago. No, it wasn’t to spend more time with the kids, or me. It wasn’t because his job is so crazy that it keeps him from having hobbies. Very simply, it was this: after many years of losing the final play-off game, only to be named league runner-up yet again, his team won. Season champions—finally. He decided to go out on a high note.
To replace those summer evenings of social time, Jon started “Dad Pack,” which, in essence, is a group of guys—most, but not all, of whom are dads—who get together every Wednesday night to do things normally saved for a weekend. Like boating. Hiking. White-water rafting. Plus drinking.
I’ll admit that, the other week, after a couple days of Jon having to work late, I was annoyed to leave the office early again to pick up our boys at two different locations so Jon could go hike Camel’s Hump. But I respect that he’s made Dad Pack non-negotiable. On this point, I stand by my man, 100 percent. Here’s why:
It makes him happy. Work is stressful. Parenting is stressful. Living with me is stressful. I’m loud. I have high standards—but they’re random. (Read: I’m bossy and messy.) But I appreciate what escaping the realities of being a manager, a parent and a partner—weekly—can do for one’s mental state.
He participates in activities in which I have no interest. Early on in our relationship, Jon and I went beach camping and sea kayaking and desert hiking. We were in that courting stage during which one person (me) pushed comfort-zone limits and the other (Jon) was willing to scale back adventures for the good of the date. Now that, with two kids, we cram leisure activities into borrowed time, he tends to go big—and I tend go home. Or to the yoga studio. Or the thrift store. Dad Pack gives him companions for experiences of which I want no part. For that, I am grateful.
He hangs with awesome dudes. The fact that my man hangs out with other smart, creative men who love their partners and their children and who do good and interesting work in this world can only be a good thing for me and our family. Plus, these guys are all lots of fun, as are their spouses, with whom I’ve become closer, in part thanks to Dad Pack.
It helps boost my ratings (with the kids). Our kids are not Mama’s Boys. In fact, if one were keeping score, it’d show that my husband holds a slight (or not-so-slight) lead in the competition for favorite parent. But when he’s gone, I’m on. And I’m awesome. We talk Pokemon. We play ball. We bake banana bread by request. We go to outdoor concerts. I provide the awesome back rubs. Because I am the only option.
I can do whatever I want. Waste hours on social media. Listen to podcasts while taking approximately four hours to do dishes. Watch a rom com on the comfy couch while eating popcorn in the slobby way that is excruciating for my husband to witness. On Wednesday nights, after the kids are in their rooms (one sleeping, one not), it’s like a girly bachelor pad over here. And it’s awesome.
Girls’ night. I barely even have to ask.