Infiltrating…

…or – what I did when I found myself in the middle of a Dad Blogging conference in Washington, DC.

In February of last year, Mike, the kids, and I found ourselves in three different countries. I was off supporting a team of students from the university we work at during a community service learning trip to rural Guatemala, the girls were here at home living the good life with their grandparents, and Mike was in sunny San Francisco at a dad blogging conference. Yep, they exist.

He came home and told me that I just had to come with him next year. Which is how I found myself in beautiful Washington DC last week, for the 2016 Dad 2.0 Summit.

I had a general idea what to expect – lots of sponsors, lots of panels and presentations, lots and lots of dudes. What I didn’t know, is that even if you’re not a dad, even if you’re not all that reliable a blogger, you too can have a really REALLY fun time at a dad blogging conference.

It was super refreshing to hang out with people and not awkwardly try to think of things to talk about that aren’t related to your kids. Honestly, I don’t have much of a life outside of my work (which I love), and my kids (who I love) and so sometimes grownup conversation topics are scarce. What was great was that every convo cut to the chase – “Hey, I’m so and so. Where you from? Cool. How many kids do you have?” and you’re off and running.

It was also super great to be in a room of guys who are really, genuinely, trying to change the public perception of fatherhood, and want to talk about shared parenting beyond adopting the catchphrase of “leaning in.”

Listen, my partner is awesome. He is a phenomenal writer and blogger, a great dad, and really just super fun to be around. We are lucky to still be pretty smitten with each other even after over a decade together.

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That being said, the media hasn’t quite caught on that most men are somewhat like him, and women, even feminist women, still seem to think it’s ok to crack the “dumb daddy” jokes. It ain’t reverse sexism, but it’s still not cool. These are really involved, hands on, engaged dads.

Case in point – the welcome reception had a bourbon experience bar – everyone was having a grand old time (myself included!) and when I wandered down the hall to powder my nose I couldn’t help to notice all these fellas on their phones.

excuse the bourbon fuelled typos...

excuse the bourbon fuelled typos…

The Dad 2.0 folks offered everyone some really phenomenal experiences, whether it was listening to Brad Meltzer talk about legacy, having Derreck Kayongo get us all up to sing together at the closing keynote after talking about raising inclusive and exceptional children, snagging a great pair of super comfy Lee Jeans (that I can’t wait to wear for casual Friday tomorrow!), watching your partner struggle into firefighting gear, or visiting the Museum of American History for a private event hosted by Lego (where the open bar and mac and cheese reigned!). My favourite session on shared parenting was pretty on point, moderated by the fantastic Brigid Schulte, and provided me an opportunity to fly my feminist flag high.

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I also met bloggers who I follow regularly (super weird that all these internet people are real live humans) and get to know some new folks and faces.

The highlight, however, was seeing my favourite fella share his words with all 400+ in attendance. Even though I held my breath the entire time, and tried not to blush or cry, there haven’t been many moments in my life that I have been prouder.

Sometimes I escaped to explore beautiful Washington DC and hit as many Smithsonians as possible when I felt I could duck out, and enjoyed both time with my partner, time with other fun adults, and time by myself. It really felt like we were on vacation – and I am so grateful.

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I thought it might be weird, being the tag-along partner at a dad conference – like I was crashing the party or something, but I never, ever felt that way. In fact, I’ve heard that other fellas are talking about also bringing their partner to Dad 2.017 – so I must not have been too big an intrusion after all.

See you in San Diego, new friends. Oh, and on the internet.

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