Who’s Your Daddyo? featuring Michael Von Bank

There are loads of Dad's out there. All of us came in part from one. All Dad's are bonded by the common factor of experiencing fatherhood. For some of us, it bonds us. Despite this similarity, most of us are quite different, whether it be profession, hidden talent, parenting style, etc., we all tick differently. This feature, Who's Your Daddyo? & What Does He Do? features a different Dad each time, each filling out and answering the same questions.

Mike has got two amazing kids and has really found his groove and voice. See what we mean in our Q&A with him below.

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Name: Michael Von Bank

Location: Richmond, VA

Blog: Cranio Dad

Current Gig/Job/Way of Spending Your Day: Business Analyst II Cost Containment for an MCO

Number of kids:  Two with one due late August, early September… so three! Oldest is Zoey (4), next is David (2) and the one who is on his way will be a boy, but we are not sharing the name until he arrives.

CranioDad and his kiddos
One word that best describes how you Dad: Voice.

As a dad I often have to stand in the gap and be the voice of reason, the voice of love, and the voice of understanding. Also, having a child with craniosynostosis, I have become a voice for the voiceless. There is also the interesting tonal changes that almost all dads go through when we go from warning, to nearing punishment.  Our voices tend to drop and as a bass, my angry dad voice is deep and booming.

What one thing (tool, device, accessory, etc.) makes your life as a Dad easier? 

Growing up a bit old school, a good knife is needed.  From pulling splinters, to opening those God-forsaken plastic packages that our kid’s toys come in (really…. Who is to blame for that?), there is quite a bit that a good knife can do.  However, living in this day in age, it might be shifting towards my smart phone.  Being able to snap a quick photo, or, when things are at their worst, pull out Daniel Tiger, or a video about trains can be a lifesaver.

What's your favorite thing about being a Dad? 

Honestly, being able to spend time with my kids, and watch them grow and learn.  I know, what a bland answer. But, the reality is that as I look around me and see many other ‘fathers’ I see a gap. I see a distance between them and their kids.  I am worried that there is this constant pull in the younger generation of fathers to not succumb to all things that make fathers dads.  Having attend Dad 2.0 and being part of the dad blogger network, I am proud to say that I see far more of men being dads.  See, any boy can be a father, but it takes a man to be a dad. Being a dad means giving up some of those whims and fancies (to a degree) and spending time with your kids. Being there for them. Watching them grow. So, for as bland of an answer that this may be, I hope that you see it for what it truly is… a challenge.

What every day thing are you better at than everyone else (doesn’t have to be Dad related)?

I feel that I am doing very well at creating a voice for the voiceless.  When my daughter was born my beloved bride and I spent months researching.  We found countless groups designed for mothers with children that have craniosynostosis, as well as the children.  But not a single one for dad’s. It is my effort, my task, my desire, to be a voice. Not just on behalf of my daughter, but also for all other dad’s out there. Letting them know what my life is like, so they can see that someone else has been through what they are facing. Someone out in this big crazy world knows exactly where they are, and wants them to find comfort. It is a small niche, but one that I am proud to be part of.. and hope I can make the others feel the same.

What do you do that makes your kids think you're a super hero/super dad?

It is my hope that my kids view me as a dad.  Though there are times I long for a superhero persona, I would rather my son see my actions and demeanour as what is expected of him when he becomes a father.  It is also my hope that my daughter finds in me the bare minimum in what to expect from a husband.  This does not give me an out from working as hard as I can to be the best dad that I can be, quite the opposite.  After all, my children deserve the best from me, since they are the best of me.

What centers you when the kids are acting up? 

Remembering that they are kids. Thinking, just for a moment, how boring my life would be without them, and yes… even their antics. Also, remembering that I did far worse as a kid, so I KNOW it could be worse.

What's your favorite way to unwind? 

Blogging. I know that my time here on earth will end someday.  I use blogging to not only to try to show how my job as a dad is a little different because I have a child with craniosynostosis, but also to capture moments. We live in a fascinating age where there is a chance for our kids to see themselves through our eyes, and in the moment. There are some things that I will never blog about, tis the nature of the beast.

There is also building stuff. Metal, wood, cardboard, bricks, dirt, etc. all mediums of creativity allow me to just forget the stresses of life, for a moment, and create.

What's your best Dad-related tip?

Live big, love bigger and be kind, always. Being a dad is one of the hardest things that you will ever have to do.  Unlike most jobs, there is no rhythm, rhyme or semblance of reason. Regardless of that fact, you have eyes watching you, taking in all that you are doing in a pure and unfiltered way.

We, as dads, should be doing all we can to live big. To show our kids the importance of reaching for your dreams, of getting up when you are knocked down, of trying to be larger than life.

We should also love even bigger. There should never be a moment that our kids doubt our love for them, they should know it to the core. They should see our endless love for our spouse. In the event of a divorce, they should never hear ill words about their other parent.  They should see that it is most important that we love ourselves, because the world can be a scary and nasty place.  But they should also know that it is important to love others in the same light.

Last, but never least, the importance of being kind should be engrained upon their hearts. It starts at home. Teaching your boys to be good men requires kindness. Teaching your girls to be fiercely independent women, does the same. Being kind to the people in your home shows love, it shows respect, it shows compassion. Being able to have that foundation in the home, allows them to apply it outside of it with a safety net.  Think of all the amazing ways that the world could be changed if we all lived big, loved bigger, and we kind… always.

What is your favorite Dad story? 

The first time I found my voice.  My daughter, Zoey, had a birth that was a whirlwind of worry and heart wrenching concern. Zoey was whisked off to the NICU minuets after being born. We did not know the world we were entering, and I was a mess. I was escorted to the NICU by a chaplain.  It was the longest walk I have ever taken in my life. When I was able to see Zoey, my heart exploded with a love that has never ceased. There was this moment when I was leaning over her crib in the NICU, the lights were low, I was crying and telling her that I loved her and that daddy was here. She reached over and grabbed my finger and squeezed.  This was her way of saying that we have got this, and things were going to be fine.

Eleven days later, a new doctor was skimming over the charts and telling us that we would not be going home that day. I squeezed my finger the same way that Zoey did and stepped forward, interrupting rounds and told him this was not acceptable.  I then went on a fairly calm (and most likely intimidating) 3 minute diatribe about the progress that my daughter has made, about the training that we have excelled at, about the support that we had at home, and that for 11 days my daughter has not had a chance to be a kid, and as her dad… I would not stand for this to be the case for one more day.

Shaking, out of exhaustion, fear and anger, I stepped back.  The doctors and nurses, some with tears, others with smiles, then shifted their gaze to the chief, who began looking at the charts again.  I reached into my daughters crib, and she grabbed my finger again, as the doctor stated that I was right and that we should prepare for discharge.

I found my voice that day.  The voice of a dad that was tired, scared out of his mind, but wanted to do the best that he could for his daughter.  And I have not stopped talking since.

Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _________ answer these same questions. Scotty Schrier

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