I'm not exactly sure of the timing, but pretty soon after my wife passed away I threw myself into the stay-at-home parent arena.
Parent and toddler groups, music sessions, soft play groups, baby swim sessions, library story times, I was there, at them all, with my boy.
At a lot of these places I found myself the only man.
This was a novelty for me, and for a lot of the children. I remember being a magnet for some kids at these groups, and played with an awful lot of children as well as my own.
As intimidating as it was, and as fragile as I was, I didn't ignore the other parents, or put more accurately, the vast sea of mothers I was sailing amongst.
I was desperate to discover any 'mothering' type behaviour that, as a man, might not occur to me without prompt.
Such was my self-immersion in these groups I even got invited to social events linked to them. Whether out of sympathy, social awkwardness or a genuine enjoyment of my company I don't know, didn't care either. I still went out 'with the girls' on my voyage of discovery, and mini-crusade to prove myself as a parent.
When Max started school, if anything, this sort of thing and my involvement within mommy circles intensified.
My motivation this time round was to make sure that my son's opportunities, particularly his social ones, were not limited. It was important to me that folks felt comfortable in my company, and thus would be happy to send their children into my care, as they would be to take my son into theirs.
I sought acceptance, and approval I suppose.
Thing is, I struggle with the triviality that I've found prevalent when socialising with groups of parents, now I'm saying parents, but I mean moms.
OK, it is all relative, and what I find non-consequential, others may find the same thing a near life or death occurrence.
There's also the fact that I am sure many women would find the company of a group of men as annoying and the conversation non-consequential and uninteresting.
However when I was included on a round-robin text message about missing pencils, that was enough for me.
I am still cordial with all these people, but I have curtailed my socialising. Sending my child on his own for tea with families, when I would have joined him previously.
Turning down the opportunities to go out and socialise with the school group of moms.
This has of course back-fired to an extent, as it has increased - hopefully temporarily – the triviality.
I am now getting texts that say:
'did you get my text?'
'you don't text any more'
I can think of better uses for 12p.
Plus I am being mithered a bit for turning down the nights out.
But still, shit like that only furthers my resolve, and acts as proof that I have taken the right action, and that indeed, my tolerance levels have been exceeded.
I concede that I need to handle this delicately, but for my own sake feel that there really is no going back.
Question is, how do you explain all that without offending people, undoing all the ground work that has granted my boy the social opportunities he now has?