Tacoma Dad’s Group with Sean Leacy

hosted by
marguerite martin


Two people talk together at a meetup of the Tacoma Dads Group in Tacoma Washington. One person wears a hoodie that says

About This Episode

In this episode of the Move to Tacoma Podcast Marguerite speaks with Sean Leacy from Tacoma Dads, an inclusive community group focused on providing support and camaraderie for fathers in the Tacoma area. The group organizes events such as adventure days, game nights, and cold water plunges to help dads connect and support each other, offering a safe space for them to share experiences, make new friends, and bond over shared challenges.

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Episode Transcript

This is Channel 253. Move to Tacoma! On this episode of Move to Tacoma. It’s a lot of men, a lot of dads, who are gaining vocabulary to better understand what our needs are and how we can better serve our families. And so at its core, we are four dads becoming better partners and better fathers. Channel 253 is member supported.

I’m producer Doug Mackey and I hope you will show your support by going to channel253. com slash membership and join. Thank you. We’re back. I’m Marguerite and I want you To move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma. You’ll like it. Move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma. Dot com.

I’m Marguerite with Move to Tacoma, and I’m here today with Sean Leacy from the Tacoma Dads. Welcome, Sean. Thank you for having me. Welcome representative of the dads. From the council of dad. Yeah. So what is Tacoma Dads? Tacoma Dads. Tacoma Dads is exactly what it sounds like. It is a kind of a, I’d say more of a loose collection of local dads here in the greater Tacoma area, um, are kind of our, our, our method and to the madness that is what we do, uh, is just to reach out to and build community within local dads.

Uh, we aren’t necessarily a support group. You know, from a legal standpoint or anything of that sort. Uh, but we do provide support through community and through, you know, building friendships and getting to know each other and helping each other through the process of fatherhood. Oh my gosh, I have so many questions.

Let me start with, when did you move to Tacoma and why? So I actually grew up about eight blocks from here. Oh, okay. So I grew up over on 8th and Prospect. Oh wow, really close. Yeah, went to Grant Elementary back in the day. You know, I probably, yeah, was, yeah. Uh, we, uh, That was, yeah, 80s. Uh, and so, I mean, I used to probably bike in front of this house back in the day.

So, that’s always fun. But, uh, yeah, I grew up here. Uh, when I was, uh, I don’t know, going into fifth grade. We moved to Gig Harbor, uh, parents split and I moved over there with my mom, uh, moved to Texas for almost a decade. Um, met my wife down there. She’s originally from Michigan. And then, uh, we moved back up here.

Uh, almost 10 years ago, yeah, 10 years ago, October, so, and we’ve been here since and loving Tacoma. So when you moved back to Tacoma, you know, you grew up kind of, what, UPS area, North Slope y. Yeah. Where did you move back to when you came? So we, like, had a temporary, like, 8 month stay in Gig Harbor, which was, you know, You know, the same Big Harbor I remember.

Yeah. Uh, but then we moved from there into a rental in the, like, South 12th and Orchard area. Yeah. So we were there, uh, for, for a few years and then we bought our first home actually just across the border in University Place. North and that’s you? The north end of up. Yeah. Alright. And what do you like about living In?

Up, up is great. Uh, it is a, we live on a busy street and so that’s kind of, you know, I grew up with some of that, but it’s, uh, it has its own challenges. But we love the school district. We really love the school district. Uh, we’ve got kids with special needs and so that they work really well with, uh, with our, uh, requirements for the kids.

And the schools as a whole are just really great. Uh, we do love it. Uh, we love it. It’s a little bit more quiet ish on that side, but uh, there’s a little bit more greenery. A little closer to the water than we were previously, um, but yeah, University Place is great. Definitely feels like just kind of a few blocks outside of Tacoma.

Nowadays. Definitely. Well, and you’re not deep, University Place. Yeah. Like, sometimes I feel like it takes me, like, 15 minutes of winding roads just to get out of there. Oh, yeah. Yeah. You’re right on the border. Exactly. Yeah. Which gets its advantages, you know. Yeah, because you can go to Metropolitan Market or Trader Joe’s.

Exactly. Mainly Trader Joe’s. We, we, yeah, we spend far too much money there. You’re going to save a lot on cheese if you go to Trader Joe’s instead of Metropolitan Yes. Yes, we do. I So, I have to tell you, like, the first time I saw Tacoma Dads, I’m pretty sure it was on Instagram, and when I saw it, I’m, I’m a little embarrassed, I don’t know exactly how to say this, but like, I was like, at first, my first thought was like, oh, good, yeah, the dads are getting together, that’s, that’s good, what a great idea, and then I was like, mmm.

Wait, why are they getting together? And I was like, is this, and I don’t want us to come out right, but like, is this like a secret church group? Is this like a missionary thing? Are they open and affirming to dads with all kinds of kids? Like who qualifies as a dad? Like, you know what I mean? Like I suddenly was like, Is this problematic?

I know that’s horrible. No, no. I’ve been watching you and I’m pretty sure you’re not, right? Correct. Yeah. We are not affiliated with any sort of religious organizations. We are here for dads. And if you identify as a dad, we want you to feel welcome. Um, we are very open and affirming for the, uh, local, for any local, um, underprivileged, uh, groups, uh, or underrepresented groups.

Uh, the, you know, we were at, uh, Tacoma Pride this last year, giving out free dad hugs. Fabulous. And we, you know, when we, we had been very vocal internally, I think externally as well, uh, but not as much so until we were, you know, accepted to have a booth at Pride. When we started to be more vocal about that, we did get some pushback from within the community, um, from within our community of people who weren’t comfortable with that.

And, uh, there was definitely some, some internal with just a, you know, again, just a few people who were trying to be vocal about it that did not stick around and we’re okay with that. You know, if this is, you know, we’re, we’re here to be dads in Tacoma and to represent Tacoma. And we are doing so with open arms for anybody who needs a dad.

You know, if you, if that’s the situation you find yourself in. We’ve got a lot of dads in this group. Um, you know, we, we are on the stand in. website or the stand in Facebook groups and such. So if there are people locally who are, you know, needing a dad in that sort of a situation, we have some dads that are willing to help out.

But for the most part, um, we just like to think that we’re, you know, just here to encourage dads. And so we’ve had, we have queer dads, we have, uh, Genderfluid dads. We’ve had, uh, trans dads and we just, we want to be here for anyone who identifies as a dad. That’s awesome. So how did this get started? How does a dad club start?

Yeah, uh, Is this a national thing? Is this like AA? No, but it is. That’s a whole other thing. So it actually started in 2016. Um, and it was, uh, started as a kind of a, a Small, private group of dads, uh, based off of what used to be the Blooming Kids consignment store in North Proctor. Oh. So, Justin Natale was the original organizer for the group, uh, fantastic human being, uh, his wife and, or he and his, his wife Amy managed, or, and owned the, the consignment store, and so there was this kind of secret group, and it was, uh, you know, a secret, Facebook group.

So you couldn’t search for it or anything. You had to be kind of invited. And, uh, it was, they, they did two events every month. They did a dad’s night out and they did a dad’s adventure day with the kids where the dad’s met up at a park or did a hike or something. And those are still the two core events that we do every single month here.

And it gives us kind of the flexibility of dads having a night out and then letting the, you know, our partners have an opportunity in the mornings on a Saturday to have some time to themselves. Awesome. So, but we started in 2016. Um, I think by 2018, 2019, we were still less than a hundred dads in total, actually less than a hundred people in the Facebook group.

And there was kind of a mix of moms and dads in the Facebook group. Um, and then the, Uh, Blooming Kids consignment store burned down. Oh my gosh. Yeah, just, uh, complete and total loss, and in that process, I had been with the group since 2017, and I offered to help organize some events while they were focusing on what they need to focus on, their family, the legal side of all of this, the logistical side, And, um, I’ve got You know a past record with building community and and doing things like that.

And so this was kind of a sure. Of course, let’s do it and You know, I kept the same things that were going just continued to have them run and then I’d say 2019 is when Uh, Justin essentially just said you’re doing a great job with this. I would like to step back and let you take the rings, uh, the reins.

And I have since. And we went from being called the BK Dads, Blooming Kids Dads. Uh, I rebranded to Tacoma Dads so that it could be, uh, searchable. Uh, made it so it was a private group, but that you can find it. And then went through a process of slowly and, uh, uh, delicately removing the mothers who were in the group.

Because I wanted this to be a space where dads can feel honest, that they can be honest with each other. Yeah. And that’s not gonna happen if they feel like, you know, other eyes are gonna be on it. That’s tough. Yeah. It’s hard enough to get dads to open up. Right. So, that was a big push. And there were some feelings hurt in that process, but I feel like those that understood what was What was happening.

Uh, we’re all for it and loved it. And we’re, you know, championing what we were doing in that direction. So what happens? Like, so let’s say it’s the Tacoma, uh, dad’s night out. And I show up, I don’t know anybody. I just saw it on the calendar. I saw it on Instagram. And I show up at the bar or wherever it’s being held.

Like, what happens? Do you have like, uh, Do you have like, um, name tags? Like, do you have a sign in sheet? Like, is everybody just sitting around a table? Like, what’s going on? How many people show up to this thing? Yeah, first we go through our normal filtering process of whether you know the secret handshake or not.

Um, no, it, you know, for the most part, it’s kind of hard to miss us nowadays. Uh, we’ve all got these wonderful, not all of us, but a lot of us have these, you know, Tacoma Dads group shirts or hoodies and, uh, We’re, we all look like dads, like, you know, that’s, you know, that’s usually easy to find us when it comes to that.

We also have like a little sign in sheet that we have for anyone who wants to, um, you know, we ask a lot of our venues that we, you know, we move around Tacoma. We love the idea of being able to go into a local bar, a local brewery or place that maybe a Wednesday night. Is not a busy night for him and to bring 15 to 3540 dads to a place on a slow night is, you know, usually pretty good for business and I like to think that’s about how many people usually show up 30 40.

Yeah, we get so on the low end. Nowadays, we’re probably around 15 dads will show up. Um, uh, our busiest was the actually the last night. I think Odin brewing was open. Uh, the owner shut the place down. We had 50 dads that showed up to that and we had a blast that night, but, you know, for the most part it’s, you know, 15 to 35 is usually what I’ll tell the venue.

Um, but yeah, for the most part, it’s usually around like that 25 ish or so. But yeah, we, we, uh, we have a little sign in sheet. Usually we raffle some stuff off that we’ve been given from either the venue we’re at, or, um, you know, we’ll give away shirts every once in a while and, and, and stickers and fun things like that.

But it’s, um, most of us are fairly introverted, you know, there are not too many super extroverted dads that are going to jump over and get in your face. Yeah. Um, you know, a lot of us chat through the week on discord and we’re fairly anti social in person. And, you know, a lot of us struggle with social anxiety because this is new for a lot of us to like be adults and make friends and go out.

And so we just hang out. So it’s not like there’s a program, like you’re mostly just sitting down at a table, like having a drink, talking to the person next to you. Yep, pretty much. Figuring out what we’re all interested in, you know, whether you went down the, you know, the history of World War II road as you became a dad, or the smoking meats world as a dad, you know, which will kind of pair you into your perspective Absolutely.

We’ve got our D& D and game board nerds, twice a month we meet up. Do you got sports dads? We do have some sports dads. Yeah. In fact, our first basketball, uh, we’re doing like a, you know, a monthly, hopefully, uh, basketball game. Uh, we start in April. Awesome. And so. You know, a bunch of us will get out there and embarrass ourselves and pull something.

I’m sure so like, I imagine you’ve you’ve been there from the beginning pretty much. So what has been the evolution of this? Like, how did it? How did it kind of start? And how is it different now? Yeah, it’s, um, It has been pretty small, uh, when I took over organizing for it, we would see anywhere from like two to maybe, I think our biggest nights, we would have like maybe seven dads would show up, and that was exciting.

Yeah. To have seven dads show up for a dad’s night out. Adventure Day was usually around the same, you know, we’d have like three or four dads, maybe five dads would show up, and then the pandemic hit. And oh my gosh, like I was just feeling like we were building momentum like that, like that seven dads that showed up was like just before lockdown and I work in it.

I’ve got to be prepared for all sorts of things. And so I saw. You know, what was happening in China and started to make some pivots internally for our offices to get ready for whatever was coming over, right? And it was so disheartening to watch everything shut down. Yeah. And we weren’t. We didn’t have a discord server set up at that point.

We didn’t have a lot of dads that were talking outside of Dad’s Night Out. We hadn’t all downloaded Zoom yet at that point. No one really knew what it was. Yeah, and we even tried that through the pandemic. We did a handful of Dad’s Night Out, uh, events on Zoom and for the most part, they didn’t go well.

Yeah. Different vibe altogether. Um, but. We kept pushing along, and for me, uh, I like to think that I’m not doing anything special with the Dads group. You know, I’m not doing, I don’t have some like, big brain, uh, organizational structure that’s just making things work. Right. I’m just determined to make this work because I need it.

Yeah. And so like, that’s been my thing all through the pandemic. I was like, I don’t have a lot of friends and the friends that I do have, we don’t talk that much. And then coming out of the pandemic, when things started opening back up. There was this big push socially, uh, in the country to just get back out.

And we also had a ton of dads who had had their first children during the pandemic. Like we have all these pandemic babies that were coming through that like dads are going, ah, I don’t have any friends. My wife’s my best friend, which is awesome, but it can be a lot for the wife. Exactly. Yeah, absolutely.

Uh, it is like, yeah, it’s. It’s necessary, and coming out of the pandemic, our first Dad’s Night Out, we had like 15 or 16 dads show up. Camp Bar was the first place that we went. We went to like this little, their little outdoor seating area nook that they had set up, and uh, it was awesome. But it kinda dwindled a bit for, for a while there, and then in um, almost two years ago, two years August, Um, I got news that my best friend had died in a motorcycle accident.

Oh my god. And he was like the only person on this planet, other than my wife, that I ever felt like I could really open up to. And it was devastating for me to feel like I just, I, I didn’t have that person anymore. And it was at that time that I realized Um, after a few months of, um, some serious, uh, introspection and grieving and processing through the trauma of that, uh, that I wasn’t alone in it, that there are lots of other dads in the area that are, that they didn’t have that person to begin with.

Um, and I just really kind of got to a point where I was like, I want to make sure that There’s a community here, especially for dads, that makes it so that no one would have to go through something like that alone and that there is, like, support, like, actual people wanting to show up and help, and really Kind of kicked up my game when it came to posting on social media and getting the word out that we’re here Taking pictures at events, which is incredibly awkward and it’s Doing those little bits and pieces started to really form this community and We went from like I think after that was August.

I started picking up speed with You The time I was investing in the dads group in October, I think, and then we had our first gift exchange in December, which had like 15, 16 dads in it, which was awesome. And that felt like the first time, that gift exchange felt like the first time that it was like, guys were showing up.

Like we’re a community. Yeah. And that was a year ago, Christmas. Okay. So like 2022. Yeah. 2022 is when things released like the end of 2022, things started to pick up. And we went from like 150 or so dads before the pandemic to like maybe 200 dads. in like on the other side of the pandemic. And this is just in the Facebook group.

And now we are just over 700 dads in the Facebook group. And we’ve got 250 dads in, um, And discord. There’s a whole other aspect to all of this, uh, with the Puget Sound Dads group that I manage and I work with the City Dads group on that as well. And they’re a national dads organization. Um, and so we’ve got just over 900 dads and meet up across the, all of the, the greater Puget Sound area.

Amazing. And so it’s just. Exploded. Wow. Okay. This is a good cliffhanger. Let’s take a break. We’ll be right back. And let’s talk about the explosion. Yeah. Hi, this is Eric Hanberg of channel 253. And I want to thank you for listening to this podcast and all of the podcasts that we have in the network. Yeah, this is producer Doug echoing that thanks and also saying that if you would like to support us with a membership Please go to channel two five three dot com slash membership and join it’s four dollars a month or forty dollars a year And it pretty much is the sole reason that we can come to you now with podcasts We are listener supported you can help keep the microphones running four dollars a month forty dollars a year channel two five three Dot com slash membership if you want to check it out And again, if you were a member Thank you.

Move to Tacoma! And we’re back with Sean Leacy from the Tacoma Dads. When we last spoke, you were talking about how it’s the end of 2022 and things are really starting to kick off. So the thing that I’ve been kind of thinking about as you’re talking around this whole idea of, like, the dads, it’s like, you know, I’m thinking about like, I don’t know, patriarchy, men and community, like it’s, you know, it’s something has happened, especially over the last 50 years, like we’re not coming together in community in general, but also this idea of like men talking to each other and leaning on each other for support, support as parents, support as as friends, you know, that that that is not something that is really, you know, especially if you’re talking, like it’s one thing to go play a game together or like, you know, but like the, the idea of men connecting and relying on each other and coming together as a community of support is kind of radical.

And that’s the first thought. And then the other thought is like, you know, when I, when I did like my first like racism workshops and they’d be like, look, we need white people to get together and talk about like how to be better white people. But the problem is, is generally when white people get together by very bad things happen.

So the other thought I’m having is like, okay, So the men relying on the men, this is good, but also the men alone, where’s the accountability? I don’t know that maybe that sounds a little wacky, but like, how, what, what is it? What is it like? What are you talking about? How, how do you, I mean, you, you talked about kind of navigating that issue around, like, we’re going to show up for pride and like, not everybody likes that.

So how, how do you sort of. Self, self govern. I mean, I know you’re not like a hierarchical organization doesn’t sound like, but like, how does, how does that work like dads and community as a benevolent force? Like, what is this? Yeah, it’s, uh, we’re figuring it out. Yeah. Like that’s, that’s the thing. You know, uh, I, I very quickly get on my soapbox when it comes to, um, past generations of dads, fathers, men, uh, who have set up systems, uh, of power and control in our country, in the world where.

Yeah. A bunch of adult men getting together is probably not a good thing. Um, but on the flip side of that, we are, you know, I would say with, you know, with Gen X and, and, uh, Xenial and millennial generation, like there’s this shift to realize that, you know, one therapy is not a dirty word. Like, you know, a lot of us are regular therapy attendees, like we’re talking through stuff and identifying and.

It’s a lot of men, a lot of dads, who are gaining vocabulary to better understand what our needs are and how we can better serve our families. And so at its core, we are for dads becoming better partners and better fathers. And that’s what we exude in the group. And so those of us who are more vocal about the direction this group goes, um, that is what we’re about.

And how does that show up in the day to day? Like I’m a dad from South Tacoma. I got a three year old. I haven’t been out of the house in a while. My wife says, go make some friends. So I go to this Tacoma dads thing and like, yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, what do I, what are we talking about? Like, I, I know maybe I’m being voyeuristic.

No, no, this is fine. Like, what are the dads talking about? You are so not unique in that. And like, we had to put up a rule early on in the group that was, we don’t allow joint accounts on Facebook because, oh yeah, like the idea of dads getting together, like that is very much so T oriented. And so, but we don’t, We don’t put up with a few things, and this is not like written down anywhere necessarily, but this is just as a community.

This is what we’ve agreed on. And there are probably some who would say, well, this isn’t necessarily what we agreed on, but this is what Sean has just said. And I’m okay with that. Like, you know, that’s, I, I feel like these are good values to live by in a group that is trying to be as inclusive and supportive as possible.

Um, but that is, this is not, uh, you know, our, our meetups. are not an opportunity to rag on our partners to complain about, you know, the difficulties of fatherhood in a negative way. We have guys that show up every once in a while and they see dad’s night out and they’re like sweet and opportunity to get drunk and complained about my kids.

Yeah. And it’s like, we would love to be here for you, but we would also love for you to understand that that’s not what this group is about. We are here to. Encourage and uplift each other to provide resources as we have found through our, you know, mutual Path finding of what it means to be a father in the you know, the modern world Yeah But we any new dad that comes in like you’re gonna get out of it what you’re willing to put into it We get it.

We 100 percent get how awkward and difficult it is to be a dad and to want to spend time for yourself. Now sometimes dads take it the other way where they’re, they’re not wanting to be engaged. That’s a complete other side of the fatherhood experience. And I, I feel like those guys are, are really missing out because it’s hard.

Um, But it’s so rewarding, and especially being kind of a gap generation between parenting styles. Yeah. Uh, I’m getting to see my kids raised up in a way that, like, the amount of emotional maturity that they have is something I didn’t have until my 30s. Like, I, I was not as emotionally aware as they are now, and a lot of that is because of the way that we’ve raised our kids and the community that we’ve built here that a lot of our kids are being raised up the same way of just realizing, you know, in a big, if we’re going to an adventure day, you’re going to walk in and you’re going to see a ton of kids sprinting around.

Dad’s mixed in playing directly with them. Dad’s off to like the boundary areas of it, chatting with each other. And it’s usually, you know, If you walk in there for the first time, you’re going to see. You know, just community being, you know, in front of you community, uh, in action, in a sense, where do these adventure?

I’m glad you brought that up because that’s the next question, right? So what happens at a dad’s and kids adventure day? Like, it’s obviously very different experience. You’re not necessarily leaning on each other for support and community in the same way. Now you’re, you know, it’s almost like a monster play date, right?

Yes, but it is still very much so. Uh, talking about community and it’s talking about supporting each other because a lot of times we have dads that are showing up that are brand new dads and I tell you what, my oldest is 12. I was there at kind of the start of the, um, the dads, I don’t know, in, in, like, late, the late aughts, there was a kind of a, on Twitter, especially this like dad, stay at home, dad community that was kind of being birthed.

And in that process was also this community, even locally here, uh, where people were starting to understand the joys of baby wearing and not just, you know, an ergo carrier or anything, but like getting into handwoven wraps and all these things, ring slings. And, um, my wife was Very into that community when we were living in Texas and living in Texas at the time I found myself struggling a lot with like the masculine Like oh, you can’t do that as a guy.

You can’t wear a baby That’s what girls do and especially in texas like that was such a thing And it took time and I have deep regrets for not wearing my son when he was young, uh, because I was fighting against all of my internalized patriarchal, uh, uh, training that, you know, later in life when the kids were, you know, when we had more kids, I was all over it, all for it, teaching other dads how to do it too.

And so we have brand new dads now where baby wearing is just a normal thing. Like dad’s out there with a carrier. It’s just like, yeah, way to go. Like, sweet. Of course, it’s a little easier up in Washington than it would be in Texas, but even down there it’s that way. And so we’ve got dads that are just there trying to figure out like, okay, I’ve got a baby attached to me.

What am I supposed to be doing? And we love that because so many of us who have older kids. Wished we’d had what’s happening now in the dad’s group when we first had kids. There’s like some intergenerational stuff starting to happen. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Even if it’s just like we have grandpas that are in the dad’s group.

Oh, that’s they don’t usually come out to the dad’s adventure days, but they’ll come up to game night and they’ll come out to dad’s night out and just hang out and have fun. And I love seeing that because we do need those generations of men, generations of dads, um, that are willing to partake in everything that’s happening here.

So, you know, I’m thinking about like, you know, that, that is just something I wouldn’t have thought of the baby wearing thing, but like what kind of wisdom is like most supported are trying to like plug into the group, you know, whether it’s at adventure night or like, what, what is, what do you think people, you know, dads that are sort of kind of operating in a vacuum, what, what is it that they most seek from this community?

Like, what is it that they’re looking for? Sure. I think that There are usually two types of dads that end up, or I guess two avenues as to which dads end up here. And one is that they are actively looking for community. They’re looking for something because they are at a spot where it’s clear they need support.

And then the other half And I would say it’s probably 60 40 with the former being the, the lower number there. Uh, the other half is where their partners are literally saying, literally plotting, like, how can I get my partner to go, but that’s what it is. Like, it is a kick in the pants. Get out, go make some friends, you know, get your, you know, get a drink.

If that’s what you do, get out of the house, please. Because Yeah, it’s most of the dads that are coming that are coming on their own. They’re actively looking for community. They’re actively looking for friends Yeah, you know, they’re looking for support. A lot of them are looking for support, especially when they’ve got young kids.

They’re looking for You know, is this okay? Like, how do I manage this? You know, this is what just happened with my baby and I don’t know what to do. And it’s like, totally normal. Yeah. You know, one of the, he’s now one of my, my co organizers, uh, but he, like one of his first exposures into the group was like, you know, my, my daughter just keeps peeing all over.

the bathroom when she’s sitting on the toilet and I don’t know what to do. And it’s like, sure. Like, yeah, that makes sense. And somebody else in the group is like, Oh yeah, yeah, I’ve been through that phase. I had remembered it, but he he’ll be the first to be like, yeah, I remember Sean responding and saying, try to put her elbows on her knees when she’s sitting down and adjusts the pelvis so that the P goes in the toilet instead.

And it was for him. For me, it was just, uh, yeah, try this. Not a big deal. For him, like, he was at his wits end at that moment. He’s a stay at home dad, and that was a big deal for him. And So many of us who have come out, you know, I’m still in the thick of it. My youngest is four. Uh, so we’ve got four kids, four, eight, four, yeah, four, eight, 10 and 12.

And so we’ve got the whole spectrum of everything that has been going on for a while now. And we have special needs kids, uh, autism, ADHD, like neuro spicy household as a whole. Yeah. And, uh, it’s been tough and it’s been the trenches and it’s been lonely and isolating. It doesn’t feel like that for me anymore because I have this incredible group of dads who are looking for opportunities to help.

Oh, that’s awesome. And not just lip service. There are a lot of people that we’ve been involved with in the past in different groups where they’ll be like, just let us know whatever you need. And it’s like, okay, but that puts the entire pressure on me to express my needs, not knowing what your financial situation or time situation is to help.

Yeah. Like it’s the nice thing to say. Yeah. And you know, we have a meal train set up within the community where like if a dad’s sick or we’ve got a new baby or something happens, like we’d love to try and get like a week of dinners. If we can do that. But wait, do you guys like cook the dinners or do you get them from some of them do?

And I tell you what, like one of the nice things about dads at this point in life, dads in their 30s. If they cook, they’re cooking some bomb food. Yeah, you were talking about smoking meat. Smoked meats, like, you know, one of the dads, uh, we, my wife was, uh, to go into surgery a while, a couple months ago, and so the dads jumped on board and, like, just took care of us.

And it was wonderful. Mm. And one of the dads brought over some butter chicken, big old tray of butter chicken. It was delicious. Uh, we’ve had casseroles, but we’ve had a lot of like soups and smoked meats and these things that, you know, they’re putting love and care and like time into this. And then a lot of others who were just like, I don’t have that kind of time, but I’ll send you a DoorDash gift card for your family to get a dinner.

And that’s awesome. But these are people who are doing this without, like, guilt behind it. Yeah. They’re wanting to help. And so that’s been, that’s been huge for seeing this community grow and come together. That’s awesome. So what is the future then? Like, you know, you have this group, you know, you, you start, you, you’ve got your monthly adventure time.

You’ve got the dad’s night out, you have a game night, you’re doing pride, you have your gift exchange at Christmas. I mean, this is. So this is a full, you know, meal trains, this is a full operation. So like how, what happens next? Like it does, I mean, is this a job yet or is this forever? Is it like, I mean, and, and I’m thinking, I’m sorry, I, I shouldn’t have just like thrown a out there.

It makes me think of like that way that like, you know, there is no governing body. Like you just come together and you do the thing and then you disperse or is the future like something more structured? Like how do you see this proceeding? Yeah. We’ve. You know, we’ve talked a lot about the idea of, like, what it would take to become a 501c3 or a 501c3, I can’t remember how that goes, um, just so that we can, Do more community activity, um, through kind of a more formal venue and a formal avenue.

We have a good handful of local businesses and such that would love to financially support what we’re doing here, but because we’re not a nonprofit, they can’t really do that and still get any sort of a tax write off. Yeah. Um, you know, most of the businesses that are giving us like hats and shirts and those kinds of things just to give out to the dads, it’s entirely.

Out of the goodness of their heart, like they’re not getting that sort of a write off. And so we’ve, we’ve talked about that quite a bit to see what that would even look like. But really, you know, we want to find more ways to get these dads plugged into our local community. We’ve talked about doing trash pickups, and we’ve talked about helping out with the schools, local school districts and such, and finding more ways to make the dads who are doing this feel like they’ve, They’re able to give back to the broader Tacoma community as a whole.

And for those that have seen, you know, I think the Tacoma News Tribune recently posted that, um, what’s the name of the park right there on Pacific and. 705, um, yeah, because they’re cleaning it up. Yeah. Kind of going through a hard time. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, I was, I was talking to some of the doesn’t it? Yeah.

Yeah. I was talking with some of the dads. I was like, I mean, it wouldn’t take anything for like, you know, 15, 20 of us to show up with our pressure washers and just like, Strip the place and get it ready. And then it was like, Oh, but, but it is parks department. And so there’s a whole like legal path we have to go through to do something like that.

Not just like a gorilla cleanup crew. Uh, but you know, and that, that does exist in Tacoma too, but you know, things like that, that we would love to continue to start forming those partnerships more officially. Yeah. Yeah. But we are. You know, there comes a point where, realistically, some of us will start aging out, and that’s the same with any parenting community.

When the kids start getting in high school, when they don’t want to show up anymore, you know, maybe that ha but we’re so focused on supporting dads specifically, and through that hoping to be able to support families more, that I’m hoping that the age out process doesn’t hit as hard as, like, parenting communities.

So that’s where kind of we’re hoping that as we continue to find more and more events that work well for our dads and families and kids that, uh, as those kids no longer want to go to the adventure day. That maybe the dads stopped going to Adventure Day, but maybe that frees them up to start doing other things that we are doing that they haven’t been able to make.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And you, I imagine there’s also just kind of a thing of like, you have to keep the pipeline full of like new dads, right? So you have this, you have to like support the established dads and the new dads, and that’s a lot. That’s a lot of different, uh, needs to meet. It is. Yeah.

Yeah. It’s more loosely organized as far as that’s concerned right now. We have, uh, myself and, and, uh, Paul Woody and Jake McClintock, uh, organize events. Uh, we’re kind of separating out those roles as to who’s going to manage things more. Uh, which helps take less off or more off of my plate, which is a wonderful thing.

Uh, I do have a full time job and again for wonderful kids and my, my, my wife and her business and like, it’s, it’s a lot, but this is what I love doing and it’s incredibly rewarding to see dads. Get it. Yeah. And to see community happening outside of anything that I’ve done, you know, to see dads making friendships that aren’t me involved.

Like it’s these circles that are popping up of like guys that are realizing they really get along and they do this and seeing them on social media, posting these nights out with their friends and they’re all people from within the dad’s group. And it’s like, It’s great. It makes me smile, like, ear to ear, constantly thinking about how these guys a year ago, six months ago, had no friends.

Yeah. They had nothing that was going for them outside of just being there for their family. And it’s really heartwarming to see. It’s like you create the space and it sort of takes care of itself. Is that what I’m hearing? Yeah, I think that’s fair. That’s fair. I think that as we, my, I’ve been very, uh, I’ve held the group with very, uh, loose grip for the most part, uh, trying not to take too much ownership for what’s happening and trying to make sure that if there’s a dad who has an interest in having an event happen, wholeheartedly, like full support, let’s get it on the calendar.

I will help you get like whatever it is that you want to do. Yeah. As long as there is one person. Who is willing to be there for the start and finish of the entire time period that we were putting on the calendar. Totally. I am all for it. That’s awesome. Because I can’t do everything. And I can’t attend every event.

And so I don’t want to. My lack of availability keep something from happening. And so that’s where we’ve seen more organizers and moderators and people popping up and saying, Hey, I’d love to do this basketball like that’s that’s what this has come from. It’s like we’ve got a bunch of dads who posted on on our in our Facebook group that said, Hey, would anybody be interested in playing basketball?

And, you know, 15, 20 guys respond and say, I’d love to do something like that. And then we find someone who is willing to be there the whole time. And if it becomes a regular thing, awesome! If it doesn’t, OK. Like, that’s fine. We need to have people who are, like, just willing to do it, and, you know invested in wanting to make sure that something happens and any organizational structure, things that, that, that I’ve built over the years that can help facilitate that and make it easier on whoever’s organizing it.

I am wholeheartedly, wholeheartedly willing to pass on and say, great, here’s some things that have helped. Let’s do it. That’s awesome. Well, is there anything that I haven’t asked you about that you want to make sure and say, Like, is there, is there anything that I haven’t? Yeah, I mean, we’ve, I’d love to go over just kind of the, our calendar, what it looks like.

Yes! We’ve talked about Dad’s Night Out and Adventure Day and kind of glimpsed on Game Night and some of the other things that we’re doing. But, like, we have a lot going on now. There’s more? Oh, yeah. Okay. So, we have, uh, we try to keep things on, like, a fairly set schedule. schedule. And so the first Wednesday of every month, we do Dad’s Night Out.

First Saturday of the month, we do Adventure Day. Uh, Adventure Day usually is meeting up at a park or going to, uh, a trail or something where it’s dads and kids. Rain or shine? Rain or shine. Wow. Yeah, we’ve had three, what, three? Two, two adventure days in a row this winter where it was literally sleeting on the kids as we’re running around and playing in the park.

Of course, none of them are wanting, all of them are refusing to wear gloves or hats or anything. And they’re all just like shivering to the bone by the time we get out of there. But that’s parenthood. But they’re heeding the call to adventure. Yeah. But they’re like, they’re running and playing and having fun with each other.

And they get excited when they see that another dad has brought their kids and they’ve been friends. And it’s, it’s a joy. But we do, um, Now that we have, now that the moms who have kicked our butts, our partners who have kicked our butts to get into this group or to join this or to encourage us to continue to build this, they’re seeing all the stuff that we’ve been doing and they’re like, I want to do all that stuff.

Like there have been moms groups in Tacoma, uh, for a long time, Tacoma moms group on Facebook and the Village 253, Ruthie Taylor’s, you know, running all of that. You know, that’s, that’s awesome, but they don’t really meet in person and they’re big and they’re kind of, you know, they’ve got their own, uh, systems in place, but they don’t meet regularly like the dad’s group does.

And so the moms of the South Sound has blossomed over the last few months of having a mom’s night out on a Monday night and having mom’s adventure day. And so during adventure day. Dad’s Adventure Day, the moms meet up for coffee at a local place. Oh, that’s interesting. And when the moms have their Adventure Day, which is usually the next Saturday, the dads are meeting up for coffee.

And so we do a monthly coffee there. We also have a monthly, like, midweek, like, tomorrow morning, I think they’re meeting up at Macombo, uh, not too far from here. Chai and coffee. Oh, yeah, yeah. Used to be, um, the big, uh, coffee place. Moose on the wall. Um, not caribou coffee. No, not caribou coffee. That’s not over here.

Do you know what he’s talking about, Todd? It used to be there, it’s on 6th and Union, right there on the corner, next to Farrelly’s Pizza. Oh, it used to be Metro, um, Metronome. There we go, Metronome Coffee. That took way too long. I know, I was like, why do I think it starts with a C now? Uh, but no, so there, uh, we meet up there.

We like that spot because they have kind of a little play area. So if some of us need to bring younger kids, we can bring younger kids. Got it. Um, but we have like 10 to 20 dads that’ll show up for coffee now on those. And it’s really cool to see, um, we have our game nights over at silver king games and hobby on South to come away.

Second and fourth Thursdays, 7. p. m. Are you doing D& D? Are you doing Warhammer? What’s happening? Is it Catan? Whatever we’ve got going on. Uh, usually we’ll be running some sort of a one shot D& D campaign. We just finished up, uh, uh, Adventures Awaits. Uh, level 10 campaign, There Be Dragons. Oh. Uh, last week, which was a lot of fun.

Um, and then we also got an incredible, uh, Group of dads who are all about board games and they rock it My buddy Joey works with Gamerati and distribution of games and fulfillment for Kickstarter stuff And so he has a an impressive library of board games And we have other dads that like that became their special interest when you know They became dads or prior to becoming dads So there are a bunch of dads that like They’ll chat on discord ahead of time.

What games should we play this week? Like, and so it’s nice to see that there’s a space for that. Yes. And we would love to see that place full. Like there are so many dads who would really love to do that. At Silver King? At Silver King. Yeah. And so we’ve got those going on. We have our monthly family day, which is usually on the third Thursday.

We just had our third Thursday, Saturday. We just did that over at Skate World. Saying farewell to Skate World and all of the joy that has been that it was pure and utter chaos It was wonderful. It was great to support a local business, which is really what like a lot of our events We really just want to bring people into these awesome spaces around Tacoma and Tacoma has a ton of them Yes So we are trying to take advantage of those, uh, family day can range from roller skating or a Reindeer’s game or, um, kind of like a family or, um, an adventure day where we have, you know, dads and our partners and our kids all hanging out at a park.

Um, I, I love to home roast coffee and so I’ll usually bring a couple big thermoses full of coffee to those events and, uh, you know, we’ll do, uh, donuts or snacks or whatever and just have some time to hang out, you know, it lets the moms get to know each other, the partners get to know each other a little bit better and that’s always nice, you know, we are Uh, wanting to make sure that we’re, uh, inclusive to all different family structures.

And so some of my language, uh, you know, uh, assigning gender to a dad or anything like that. It’s not about the dads and the moms. It’s the dads and the dads. I know. And that’s, that’s so true. It’s, you know, I, I grew up in a very conservative environment that, uh, I’m still unlearning so much language stuff.

Yeah. It’s real. It’s real. You know, luckily, my kids, they don’t struggle like that, you know, this is normal for them, uh, and I love that. Um, but I do want to make sure that, like, we are, uh, very open and affirming, and we really try to make sure that, like, and, and I know that especially when, you know, we have a good mix of diversity in the dads group, but I’d say a good, you know, majority of the dads in it are white dads in their 30s.

You know, a few of us in our, you know, early 40s, couple in our late 20s, um, But we, we want to be active in making sure that we are, uh, in a space where people who don’t fit that mold, uh, feel comfortable being, and so, you know, we really want to make sure that that is clear because we need, you know, the, the different viewpoints of what makes Tacoma, Tacoma, and what makes our dad’s group a representation of Tacoma.

And without those viewpoints. You know, we get stuck in this rut of just like doing things the way they’re just going. And so how do you do that? How do you sort of like check in with yourselves and say, like, be accountable and be like, why, why do we seem to be attracting a lot of similar people? Like, how do you, how do you open that up?

Who do you go to? That’s a lot of that is very much. So just asking ourselves that question in a kind of administrative team kind of perspective, and then asking those questions to people in the local community. You know, we have, uh, Uh, you know, a couple that, that has been in the group for a long time, and they have a, gosh, she is a year old now, but they, uh, they’ve been an incredible resource in getting us into, uh, you know, getting perspective from a queer perspective on like, what’s the dad’s group all about.

Yeah. And, uh, They, when they were looking at the dad’s group as a whole, cause they were new dads and they didn’t know what was going on. Like, okay, is this like you were saying, is this a safe spot? Like, is this a bunch of like, you know, hyper conservative dads who like, you know, that community shouldn’t be here.

And we’re far from that. And if there are dads within the group that do share those communities or share those views. It’s not being expressed anywhere within our internal, uh, social networks because it’s just not put up with, you know, we, we don’t, um, we don’t fall down the, the fallacy of, uh, inclusivity, being inclusive to all the negative viewpoints and, you know, can’t provide a, a space for both wolves and sheep at the same table, kind of a thing, like, you know, we, uh, We are happy to welcome people who are willing to understand what this group stands for.

And so as we continue to get, you know, people from different communities, uh, we, we want to be sensitive to any needs they may have. And hopefully, on the administrative side of things, um, we are approachable enough that if something were to come up, that we’d be able to hear it. But it’s also, me as a cis white dude, uh, I feel like I’m not super approachable just by nature of the history of people who look like me.

And so, I know that we, we may miss out on opportunities where dads won’t stick around because they just They don’t feel like it’s necessarily their responsibility to have to speak up. Yeah, to educate you. Exactly, yeah. And it’s not their responsibility to do that. So, you know, we, we all follow a pretty, um, strict internal guideline of just making sure that we are always learning and listening.

And looking back at, like, what we’ve done, events that we’ve done, I probably internalize far too much. Um, go over all of the conversations that I’ve had for the day and try to figure out where I could have offended someone. Um, but, you know, that’s, um, part of, you know, All of us just trying to navigate what we’ve been raised with versus what we want to see the community look like.

And so I hope that as we, who are organizing things, uh, continue down that path, that, uh, we continue to be a better representation of the best that Tacoma has to offer. At least that’s the hope. Um, but we also do, um, We have a lot of popup popup events. We used to do a lot of midweek meetups where they would meet up at, um, for Crest tot lot.

Oh yeah. For those with younger kids. Yeah. Uh, once a week they would meet up down there and um, we’re hoping to pick that up again here pretty soon. ’cause it’s getting a little bit nicer. It’s been wet and the little ones don’t always like to be out there in that. Um, but. Oh, and then our, uh, cold water plunges.

Every Sunday morning, we meet up at, uh, uh, Owen Beach, and we all jump into the Puget Sound. Not jump, but we walk into the Puget Sound. Calmly, yes. What, what time? You’re, you’re wim hoffing it up out there. Like, what, what time does this happen on Owen Beach? So we meet up at 7. 15 every Sunday morning. at Owen Beach, and we are usually in the water at 730.

Okay. And this is, we, this isn’t something we created. Um, you know, as I’ve mentioned to you through the social medias, uh, this is, you know, Renata, Rain, and, uh, the Puget Sound Plungers. We’ve been a part of that for a long time. We were all meeting up at Owen Beach while Sunnyside, which is kind of the, the HQ for everything Puget Sound Plungers, is Stillicum.

And, um, we just decided that the Owen beach, you know, they all moved there. And then when Sunnyside reopened, they all moved back there. Yeah. And the dad’s group is just like, you know, we like Owen. Yeah. We’re going to chill here. We’re going to keep doing our thing. Yeah. That’s awesome. And it’s dad’s and our partners and we refer to it as a co ed, uh, cold water plunge, but it’s a dad hosted event, dad hosted, although we don’t usually have smoked meats there.

Oh, okay. So we’re all popsicles by that point. So if somebody’s listening and they’re like, okay, I’m a dad and this sounds cool, or, uh, you know, I am with a dad and that dude needs to get out there and make some friends, uh, take the kids, go do this thing. How do, how do they plug in? Like, what’s the best way?

Do they start following you on social media? Do they reach out on the website? Do they just show up? Like, what, what is the best way to get, get plugged into this group? I would say. Any dad or the partner of said dad, who is interested in getting involved in what we’re doing, uh, go to Tacoma dads. com. Uh, it’s just a link tree, but it has a listing of all of our events.

It has a link to our public Google calendar that will give access to anybody who’s not on social media. Cause that was a problem for a long time where we would have, you know, the partners of said dad saying, my husband, my boyfriend is not. On social media, so I would like to join your group so I can follow that and I’m like, no, we’re not doing that, but I’d be happy to let you know what we’re doing.

Yeah, so we’ve got the public Google calendar. You can you can follow you can set up your notifications for that if you want to. But I would say that one of the biggest hurdles that a lot of our dads have with getting plugged into, especially anything that’s in person. Um, is knowing how much of a stress it can be when you are leaving your partner home in the evening with kids, especially around bedtimes, anything like that.

It can be incredibly stressful for your partner if you’re out and you’re gone. And we tend to lean into this mentality of, I’m not going to do that then. Because I don’t want, I’m not going to be able to enjoy myself for out with new people, which is already a social anxiety hurdle to go out and meet new people.

Yeah. And so there are, you know, there’s an easy out of just like, no, cause it’s, I know what kind of a stress it’s going to be. No, because you know, bedtime’s not going well or whatever. And, That’s, that’s one of the biggest hurdles that they run into of just like, well, no, I’m not going to go. And from my own personal experience as a dad with four neuro spicy kids who bedtimes are difficult.

Even now with the age spread that we have, bedtimes are very difficult and I’m rarely on time for a dad’s night out. But I make sure that I’m trying to be there. Yeah. Pays off. Hand over foot. It pays off when you find friends. Which is so hard to make as an adult. Period. When you find friends and you start making those connections.

The mental health boost of friendship is unsurpassed. Like, having someone else that you can talk to that is there for you, uh, is incredible. And then the emotional weight of that your partner carries of being your only friend, uh, is Lessened as well. And so it’s good for everyone involved in the situation Yeah, but getting in there, getting onto social media, um, our discord server is probably the best spot for community right now.

Facebook is great for organizing some things, but most of the guys who are actively going to events, they’ve met up on discord now. And that’s, that’s where we do all of our, like, in person events. In between events planning, and it’s also where we do most of our like day to day chats. Well, Sean, thank you so much for coming on and explaining all this and answering all my very, very invasive questions.

Oh, I’m here for it. Yeah. No. And yeah, it sounds like the work you’re doing sounds amazing. Like dudes helping dudes. We need more of that. That’s the hope. That’s the hope. Thank you so much. If podcast, check out movetotacoma. com Move2Tacoma. com is a neighborhood guide, blog, and podcast to help people in Tacoma, Pierce County, and beyond find their place in the city of destiny.

More information at Move2Tacoma. com. Move2Tacoma is part of the Channel 253 Podcast Network. Check out our other shows, Grit and Grain, Nerdfarmer, Interchangeable White Ladies, Crossing Division, Citizen Tacoma, What Say You, We Are Tacoma, Flounder’s Bee Team, and Taco Man. This is Channel 253.

Show Notes

Marguerite hosts Sean Leacy from Tacoma Dads, a supportive group aimed at fostering connections among fathers in Tacoma. Sean talks about how the group evolved from its beginnings as a small, private Facebook group in 2016 to its current form with hundreds of members. The group organizes regular events like adventure days, game nights, and cold water plunges, providing dads with opportunities to connect with their peers, share their experiences, and receive support.

Tacoma Dad's Group

Sean explains the importance of providing a space where dads can meet regularly and discuss their challenges. This includes parenting challenges and beyond. Tacoma Dad's Group encourages dads to embrace their roles and find joy in their journeys while also understanding that fatherhood can be challenging and isolating. Their events range from adventure days at local parks to monthly dad's nights out. Tacoma Dad's offers different activities to suit a variety of interests. The community strives to be inclusive, supporting all types of families and advocating for acceptance and diversity. Sean also shares personal insights into how building this community has been therapeutic for him. Sean emphasizes that while the group initially leaned heavily on social media for organization, it has now found success on Discord, where members can chat and coordinate events. Despite the challenges of balancing parenting and socializing, he encourages fathers to push past their reservations and engage with the group, stressing how important it is to make new friends and find support networks.