The Significance of Insignificant Trade-Offs

And Why Free Time On Tuesday is Better Than No Free Time At All

Last week I finally told a group of buddies that I would not be going on three-day golf trip we had been planning since the summer.

I had known it wasn’t going to work for at least a month, but I had delayed the group text. Our oldest daughter is going to sleepaway camp for the first time, and the golf trip was the weekend when my wife and I were going to pick her up. Totally reasonable excuse. But I was still hesitant to tell the group.

The golf trip was going to be something special, a bucket list event to Cabot Cape Breton – a place I have dreamed of playing for years.

But three months ago, my oldest daughter decided this was the summer she would try sleepaway camp, so not going with my wife and other daughters to pick her up – I mean, what parent wants to miss that enthusiastic flood of stories and smiles that comes the minute your child gets into the car?

I went to the group text and I said I had to pull out, ending with: “I’m sorry but I have to cancel. It’s like some golden rule in my life – the more I’m looking forward to something for just me the more likely it’s going to be canceled.” Then I waited for the replies.

“Super bummed as I wanted to experience this with you but 💯 understand,” said a pal without kids. “It’s all good and don’t worry about it.”

But another with as many kids as me wrote the message that stung: “Bagged on Cabot?? 😟”

That was it and it hurt. Why? I don’t have a great answer. I feel it was not being able to participate in a guy ritual – the long-planned golf trip. I wondered wether a go-to-work Dad have just gone.

I wrote back, “Got to be a dad.” And I sent him the Seven Rules of Being A Lead Dad. Rule 1: “If you have something planned that you really want to do, a conflicting family event will pop up on the same date.”

Tradeoffs are a part of parenting for everyone. But I feel something Lead Dads struggle with is explaining why they can’t always take the buddy trips with the same ease that a go-to-work Dad can. Or maybe we Lead Dads could take that trip, but we feel guilty or talk ourselves out it.

If that trip had been Tuesday to Thursday, I would have made it no problem. But it was Friday to Sunday and under the best-case scenario that’s a hard time to disappear. It felt untenable – and unenjoyable – with camp pickup that weekend.

That same week I was emailing with a Lead Dad I had just met who lives close to me. I asked if we could meet for golf – my go-to line these days.

“I can play any Monday or early on Friday,” he wrote. “Maybe a Thursday. No, that’s not going to work.”

I totally got it. Weekends are just not an option.

So we picked a Friday, early in the day. We’ll play, grab a sandwich and a beer, and both be done to wrap up some work before our kids come home.

We understand each other as Lead Dads. No hassle. No guilt. And plenty of understanding. Getting out on a weekend just isn’t worth the logistics – unless it’s something really big!

This is also why my number one goal for The Company of Dads is to help facilitate a diverse community for Lead Dads, whether we want to get together for a coffee or beer or meet up to enjoy our favorite hobby. The only requirement is it has to happen midweek.