Don’t tell mom

Versions of the fast-food scene and the one of the three kids eating giant sundaes in the back seat have certainly appeared in our family timeline. I’m not proud, but the kids providing a mouth-full mumble of “OK” cracks me up each time I watch this video.

Commuter Daddy… mommy blogger?

Good news: Heard from Boston.com today, and Commuter Daddy has been added to their list of New England blogs.

I asked. They granted. It was that simple.

Even better news: Commuter Daddy was a featured blog today… on the Boston.com Moms site.

Forfeiture of my Man Card might be required now.

I’m kidding, of course. I appreciate the love. A link from Boston.com is SEO gold for a low-profile blogger. Two links are even better. I’m also in good company: Meredith O’Brien’s Notes from the Asylum, Appalachian Mountain Club’s Great Kids, Great Outdoors, and my cousin Liz over at Eat, Drink and Be Mommy (hey, Liz, keep posting!). The rest I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

I do get some safety in masculine numbers, thanks to the company of other Dad bloggers: dadtoday, Dadventures in Beantown, and The Education of a New Dad. But we are few. The Moms are many. Other Dads need to step up and take advantage of Boston.com’s equal opportunity indexing.

Blog on, fellow Dads, and let sites like Boston.com know you’re out there.

While we’re at it, though, let’s not focus on what divides us from moms, and simply share in the parenting experience. As I’ve written previously, “Proper teamwork with your spouse simply means doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. The two pitfalls? Waiting to be told to do it first, and keeping score, of course.

Let’s not keep score while blogging either.

Tales from the cycling trail: Dollars from heaven

I’ve recently been trying to extend my cycling mileage, increasing from what had been a heavy dose of half-hour 8-mile rides to the Sagamore Bridge into 17-mile rides to the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge and back.

The main inspiration — aside from my aforementioned goal to ride 1,000 miles this year — is training for an upcoming fund-raising ride: The Coast of Hope ride in Ipswich, which this year is part of the festivities for that town’s 375th anniversary celebration. I and a couple of other cycling dads decided a fine way to spend part of Father’s Day weekend would be to spend a couple of hours riding 37.5 miles, and then gather of our families afterward for a cookout.

I am looking forward to it, as it will be the first group ride in which I have participated. For most of my cycling life (and that extends back to pre-high school days), I’ve ridden solo or with one other partner.

Of course, the last thing I want to have happen on June 20th is to get to mile 17 and have my body decide it is done. So today I ventured beyond the Cape Cod Canal path, and headed for Cataumet.

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It was on a whim that I decided to push beyond my normal bike-path ride today. The first inspiration was the realization that I was only a month away from the upcoming ride. The second was the good-natured, unintentional challenge tossed out by another cycling friend who pointed out I was only riding on relatively flat land lately. His comment was burning in the back of my brain. He was right. I needed more hills in my cycling diet.

Despite the weather — spitting rain and a crosswind across the canal — I was not faring too badly as I neared the Bourne Bridge. I felt energetic, and my asthma was at bay thanks to the nearly 60-degree-and-rising temperatures and my relatively steady pace. I decided I could get no colder and no wetter, so why not?

Well, I was wrong about the wetter part. The rain picked up its pace almost as soon as I hit Shore Road, but it wasn’t bothering me nearly as much as I thought it might. I just kept pedaling, with no real goal in terms of mileage or time. Shore Road intersected with County Road, and County Road intersected with Route 28A, and it was at that point I decided I better turn around and head for home. I had forgotten my phone, so not only had I not told the family that I was going to stay out beyond my recent pattern of 17 miles in just over an hour, but I also could not immediately call for help should I tire out.

I regained momentum just beyond the Beach Plum Bakery, and was looking down, which I had been doing throughout most of the ride to shield my eyes from the rain. All of a sudden, a $5 bill flashed through my vision. What the…!? I almost kept going, but really, how many times does one find a $5 bill lying by the side of the road? So I stopped, turned around, and retrieved it, all the while thinking it must be some sort of cosmic reward for pushing myself today.

With the $5 bill stuffed in my pocket, I resumed the ride up County Road. A couple hundred yards later, I suddenly saw a $10 bill lying by the side of road. What the…?! The brain kicked into overdrive.

“Seriously?! A $5 AND a $10 lying by the side of the road, waiting for me to discover them? How does that happen? Had a runner let them slip out of his or her sock? Had someone left their change on the roof of his or her car, and the money had just flown off when the wind from the moving vehicle dried them out and unstuck them from car?”

I stopped the bike, left it by a telephone pole, and walked back to the $10 bill. I started looking around for a hidden camera. Maybe this was a test? I put the $10 bill in my pocket, and waited for an ABC crew shooting “What Would You Do?” to show up and start interrogating me.

Nothing. Not even a car passed.

As I resumed my ride, it was clear to me that the $15 were in my path for a reason, so I decided right there on County Road that I was going to use the money to kick off my fund-raising effort for the Coast of Hope ride. Riders who register do so by also agreeing to raise $125 for Bright Happy Power, a charitable foundation inspired by the life of 9-year-old leukemia patient Jessie Doktor, who died in 2007 from complications caused by a bone-marrow transplant.

Should you wish to match or exceed the $15 I found today to help sponsor my Father’s Day weekend ride while raising money for Bright Happy Power, please click the button below to donate via PayPal.

I will compile all of the electronic donations, and write a single check to Bright Happy Power on the day of the ride.

Or if you’d prefer a less electronic method, please send checks made out directly to Bright Happy Power to Sean Polay, 176 Route 6A, Sandwich, MA, and I will hand them in on the day of the ride.

A third choice is just to head right over to the site, and check out the wish list of items needed for care packages for children with cancer. You’re welcome to donate to the group directly, especially if you are reading this after Father’s Day.

I am guessing at this point you are wondering: “Sean, why are you raising money for Bright Happy Power?”

Several years ago, I helped a friend coach his kids in Little League, and one of them had to stop playing after a year because of his own battle with cancer. He won that battle, thankfully, but obviously many children are not nearly as fortunate.

I’ve been reminded of that experience frequently over the years, both when I helped coach Sam’s Little League team a few years ago and now this year as I help coach Mason’s team.


Mason, who turned 8 today, is only a year younger than my friend’s son was when I helped coach him.

Our boys have been blessed with good health thus far. We’re fortunate for that and so many other reasons, and try not to take any of our good fortune for granted. Ever. May Sam, Mason and Benjamin continue to be in good health, and never need the help of an organization like Bright Happy Power. We celebrate our good fortune by donating to Bright Happy Power, and simultaneously hope to make some small difference for children who quite literally are fighting for their lives.

Bright Happy Power’s mission is to place hope, happiness and empowerment into the hands and lives of children and families facing life-threatening and catastrophic challenges. It’s an honor to contribute to that hope and empowerment. Join me if you can. No amount is too small.

Thanks, moms

I spent the day yesterday mingling with moms at the Detours and Onramps conference at Bentley University, where I had been invited to speak about running a successful online business.

First, for those that attended the session led by Boston Mamas‘ Christine Koh and I, here’s some links to items we discussed:

And now, a little about the experience for those who were no there. I was the only dad in the audience for a while. One woman passing by my table said, “Boy, are you brave!” I laughed, because it sure must have seemed that way to the casual observer.

Honestly, though, I was flattered simply to have been invited, and the fact that I was the only dad was among the furthest things from my mind most of the day. It was a pleasure to be with so many people striving for the same thing: Balancing a career with a healthy home life.

The only time I was acutely aware that I was the lone dad was when answers to audience questions took a turn toward the dark side of generalizations and stereotypes. Comments along the lines of dads not having to worry about the same interview questions as moms, men enjoying the game of negotiation more than women, and dads must unequivocally share at least half of the child-raising responsibilities with moms.

I did not stand up for men everywhere, mind you. Generalizations and stereotypes do not get created out of thin air. I did, though, briefly feel the hairs on the back of neck stand up in a “Hey, wait a minute… I’m sitting right here! Don’t you know what kind of father I am?” moment. Thankfully, the angel on my shoulder reminded me that my lead-by-example vocational management style — or the way Brandy and I approach parenting together — are the best remedy within my power to counteract such stereotypes.

I enjoyed direct conversations with Carol Fishman Cohen of iRelaunch, Lisa Adams from Monster.com, Jennifer Fraone from Boston College’s Center for Work and Family, and several others. I was entertained by more than a few overheard conversations of folks I did not get the chance to meet. The conference facilities at Bentley were fabulous, and the sessions I attended were very well thought-out and superbly presented. I especially enjoyed the “Looking the Part” fashion session led by Ginger Burr of Total Image Consulting, even if I didn’t agree with her admonition of yellow as a fashion color choice. I am glad I was not alone in my disagreement, especially given that I have four different yellow shirts in my closet.

All in all, the day made me realize how lucky Brandy and I are for the work situations we have — especially given the state of the economy. We’ve worked very hard to achieve and maintain our balanced life. It hasn’t always been this way, and it’s not without its daily challenges, but we continue to work hard — personally and professionally — so we don’t have to return to the days of two commutes running us ragged and enforcing minimal amounts of time with each other or the kids.

There were a lot of moms at the conference yesterday in the same boat Brandy and I were in four years ago. The fact that they attended at all yesterday spoke volumes about their dedication to their families and their motivation to improve themselves and their situation.

May the force be with them!

Join Commuter Daddy at Detours and Onramps on Wednesday, March 25

I’ll be among a few dads attending the annual Detours and Onramps conference for moms at Bentley College in Waltham, MA on Wednesday. Founder Meghan McCartan came upon Commuter Daddy in her virtual travels, and recently invited me to participate, both because of my blogging experience and my day job at Ottaway.

I’ll be joining Christine Koh of Boston Mamas, a returning presenter at this conference. We’ll be suppressing our inner geek (who am I kidding… my geek is very outward!) while leading a breakout sessiobn at 11:40 a.m. titled, “Not Just for the Geeks…Running a Successful Online Business.”

Here’s the session description from the agenda:

Starting a business online can be a great idea – minimal start up costs if you plan it right – but what does it take to “get the word out”? How can you distinguish yourself from your competition? And how can you “monetize” your website? Hear from some “small but mighty” online entrepreneurs on their thoughts for success.

The agenda is jam-packed with information and networking for moms — and dads… there is equal opportunity for us in the program — who are considering going back to work full-time after having kids, or never left, but are trying to make their career work for them AND their family. More from the Web site:

Whether you’ve got a great idea for your own business, or want to help someone else with their big idea…whether you’re looking to be able to spend more time with your family while maintaining a professional-level career (or even perhaps interested in spending LESS time with your family in a professional career!–especially if kids are getting older) this is a day that you should spend with us, focusing on yourself.

Created by a mom for moms, with an ever-changing and regional roster of speakers who are mainly moms themselves, this is a day that offers ideas, insight, and inspiration. And it’s a built-in network of great like-minded women. And lest you think we forgot–dads, there’s great sessions and applicability for you, too, so we encourage you to join us if you’ve been home for a bit and want to get back–or if you’re sick of working 90+ hour weeks and want to know a bit more about this elusive “work life balance”.

Bonus: Friends of Commuter Daddy get a discount! Readers of Commuter Daddy can receive a $25 discount off of the day’s $125 registration fee (which covers the days sessions, meals, and a “Goody Bag” of books, magazines, discounts, and more). Simply enter “commuterdaddy” on the registration page where it asks “Where did you hear about us?” and you’ll get a $25 credit within a day of registration.

Please make sure you find me there during the day and say hello. I’m also going to take advantage of the networking opportunity such conferences afford. Ottaway is on the lookout for a few good bloggers. Don’t miss the chance to chat me up!