KINDMilesMatter…A Lot!

Like a lot of Dads, I love the Comedian Jim Gaffigan. He has a way with summing up Fatherhood and at the start of my time working with KIND Bars in order to translate miles walked into food for charity we had recently added a third child to our brood.  I feel like Jim sums it up when he said in one of his acts, “You know what it’s like having five kids? Imagine you’re drowning. And someone hands you a baby!” We don’t have five kids, we just leveled up to three, but holy cow it has been an adjustment.

I say all of this, because while working with KIND, I really had to adjust my focus from what I thought my results should be, and instead look closely at what I was teaching my children about why we do things for other people.

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When we got started I was so focused on how many miles we were logging it was running my kids ragged.  There was no fun in it for them, a hence because of their age this meant that they weren’t learning anything about the positives that come from helping others.

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It is hot here in Virginia. And as you see in this picture of my daughter Bellamy, she was not amused with the logging of miles.

So we refocused. Rather than concentrating on the end product, we began to look at what we needing to put into the campaign in order for it to help others rather than be the figurative winner.

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Once we did that, everything changed.  The attitude of my kids totally changed because it wasn’t about faking it, it was about being authentically there.

When I thought about it, that authentic attitude mirrors our sponsor.  KIND Bars doesn’t put anything in their snacks that you can’t pronounce. They pride themselves on using all natural ingredients that are good for you and taste good at the same time.

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Since 2004, KIND has been working to make the world better one snack at a time.  That is why they partnered with myself, and other Bloggers for the KINDMilesMatter campaign. For every mile we were able to log, KIND is going to donate a box of their bars to a charity of my choice.

This goes to show, they not only care about what goes into your body, but also about what goes out into the community.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Kind Snacks for this promotion.

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I was kind of a jerk the day I got my first car.  So, my #FirstCarMoment begins with my Ma fussing at me in line at Golden Corral.  Not a Golden Corral Buffet.  Just the regular kind. Because we are classy like that.  It all kind of happened like this…

Before we left to go to my 16th birthday dinner I was convinced that a car was going to be outside the house. I am not sure why I was so sure about it.  Ok, actually I do know why.  Because I was spoiled.  I can admit that. But, please don’t tell my kids because I am not nearly as generous as my parents are.

So, when we walked out and there was no car my balloon instantly burst.  I tried to hide my disappointment (I think…) but when we drove by the bank that was selling my dream car (a 1993 Calypso Green Mustang) and it was no longer parked in front I am sure I was pouting like a bullfrog.

I got it together and we ate and had a pleasant time. After we left dinner, I was driving of course, my parents suggested we cruise through the used car lot in our little town.

As I pulled around the building I couldn’t believe that my little Mustang was parked right there.  Talk about adding insult to injury. (Man, I was I little jerk!)

I slowly drove past it, when I noticed a huge banner that said Happy Birthday and it was full of balloons. (Yes, my childhood was directly from an 80s movie except way more countryfied.) I couldn’t believe it! I jumped out and jumped into the car. Actually, that isn’t totally true because the movie soundtrack playing in my head at the moment (probably something like Take My Breath Away…) was interrupted by my parents being unable to find the key. Still, though, I was like a movie star.  At least in my own mind.

I loved that car and I drove the crap out of it.  I went parking in that car. I cruised my town in that car. I grew up in that car.  It was my baby and I washed it by hand and never let it go through the car wash, since my God Father Rod told me that it would damage my paint job.

Eventually my senior year of high school I traded it in for this:

Although, I loved the feeling of the wind through my hair, I never loved my Cavalier like I did that first Mustang.

There is just something sweet about your first car that you can never recreate.  That moment of freedom you experience when you pull out of your driveway all alone the first time. Suddenly the world seems all yours.

My Cavalier was amazing and reliable. Until it wasn’t.  Although that was totally my fault.

I was driving down I95 between DC and Richmond when I blew that baby up.  Not because I was driving too fast, but because I didn’t maintain it.  The engine was totally out of oil and I was totally out of a car.

I look back to those days of being young and dumb and I am shocked at how much I took car maintenance for granted. I guess I thought my Dad would do all the work forever.

Now that I AM the Dad, I have traded my sports car days in for keys to an SUV.  I mean, how else is this family of five going to be able to get around?

I think of Asher getting behind the wheel and although that is at least 12 years away, I hope he will be more responsible than I was.

I had no idea that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is seen as the 100 most dangerous days for teen drivers.  I can’t say I am surprised though! I think of all the risks I took and I count my lucky stars. And that was in the days before the distraction of cell phones were even added into the mix.

With around 12% of the millions of accidents each year being attributed to tire issues I see that I need to do more to insure my family’s safety on the road.  I live on a four lane highway so, trust me, I see first hand horrible accidents every so often.  We have to make sure that our families aren’t part of them!

I check the tire pressure on my wife and I’s cars every Sunday afternoon.  That is something that my Dad has drilled into my head to do.  And I will make sure my kids do that as well. I need to, however, be more vigilant about the tread on my tires.

Often, we look for the best sale on tires, but there are certain things you can’t evaluate just by price. Michelin has been in the tire business for 125 years (say what!??!) and they are all about preventing the around 125,000 accidents that occur due to inexperience drivers having tire issues.

My #FirstCarMoment was amazing and I want my son’s to be as well! So I will trust only the experts with my tires.

After all, keeping these three safe is one of my biggest jobs as a Dad!

My babies! So proud to be the Pappy of these three. #blessed #joy #kids #father

A post shared by Michael Bryant (@thepurposefulpappy) on

  • Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Michelin for this promotion.  I have received compensation for my participation, but my first car memories are my own.

Dad Privilege? No Way!

I saw an article over at Rage Against The Minivan that caught my eye.  First, I want to say I love the website and it can in no way be called anything but Pro-Dad.  So, when I saw she was writing about what she called Dad Privilege, I was interested right away.

I encourage you to take a moment and click the link above to read her take.  It is interesting. But, I have to say, it lacks some understanding about what it is like to be a Father in this day and age.

It has been an ongoing issue that almost every Pappy on TV (especially in commercials) is a bumbling idiot that doesn’t have the common sense to take care of a child. I see my fellow Dads being shown as so stupid they oftentimes cannot change a baby’s diaper without some help from a woman.

So, yes, when people see a Dad alone with their child they are often complementary.  You see, as a Dad, I win as long as my kids make it through a day under my supervision alive. What she sees as Dad Privilege is actually simply people being impressed you aren’t an ignorant jackass or completely absent from your little one’s life all together.

Only recently have I noticed that a new trend has been coming into play.  I see more and more men walking around with Dad-positive messaging on their shirts.  I see commercials full of men who can not only change a diaper but they can do so without complaining about it.  I see more and more of my male friends with their kids plastered all over their Instagram feeds.  Men, in my opinion, are suddenly being ENCOURAGED to be good Dads.

Yes, it is absolutely insane that in 2015 we are seeing taking care of your progeny being a cool thing for the first time.  But rather than say, “Stop giving men easy compliments for doing what they should do anyway,” we should just be thrilled that the tide of fatherhood is changing.

I often go out of my way to start conversations with Dads who are out and about with their kids, and I usually start those talks by complementing their parenting.  You should see these big burly dudes almost tear up because no one has ever told them they are doing a good job.  Resources for Dads are amazingly scarce, so these guys feel like they are doing it alone, because they aren’t moms and it doesn’t always come as naturally!

So I cannot get behind the idea of Dad Privilege and I say, while I am at it, complement the heck out of every dad you see!  Let them know you recognize the fact that they are not babysitting, and that they are parenting and you think that is freaking awesome!

But, hey, complement the heck out of the mommies you see too.  Because this whole parenting thing ain’t easy.

Fatherhood is a Septic Tank

Yes, I am about to compare fatherhood to a septic tank, but stick with me for a moment because it all meshes together very well in the end.

I love to work in my yard.  Now that it is summer I am out there all of the time.  We just got a free trampoline off of craigslist and I can’t get my kid off it. Living out here in the middle of nowhere you have to create your own entertainment, and part of how I entertain myself is by working in my yard.  My flowers are blooming, the mulch is fresh, and my grass is green.  

To the side of one of the two huge trees in my yard, nestled beautifully in the shade, is a large patch of grass that is so thick and lush that it makes the rest of my yard pale in comparison. I love to cut that spot because when it is all the same size and free of clippings I can almost imagine my whole yard looking like that.

As I was cutting my back half acre, I kept pondering that patch of grass. Why is it so green? Why so thick? Then I realized…poop!

Living here in the country we don’t have city sewage, we have septic.  Now if you aren’t familiar with a septic system, and I will save you the gory details, but what happens is that your poop sits in a large tank while it is eaten by bacteria, then slowly leaches back in to the earth via your drain field.  

That patch of grass is in my drain field.

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I know you must be wondering where this is going, and no it has nothing to do with dirty diapers. Parenthood is a drain field. You take all the ickey, annoying, frustrating things about having a small human that depends on you for EVERYTHING, you process it through your experience, time, love, and compassion and pray that it makes the little patch of grass you created thicker, lusher, and happier than all the grass around it.

Like my septic tank, parenting isn’t always pretty. But in the end, something that isn’t always bright and shiney will have a part of creating something beautiful and lasting.