One parent's honest list of thanks
I got stuck with the Thanksgiving column. Again. I realized it about four months ago when I got an email from the editor with my list of due dates. Since then, I've been pondering what I'd write about that wasn't pure cliche. I've got a great kid, an out-of-my-class partner and a deep, supportive network of friends that would just make you jealous.
But this isn't the Hallmark channel. Also, I feel like I've taken advantage of this space recently with overly emotional posts. So to show my appreciation for all five of you who've stuck with me through those, I've chosen to keep today's "things I'm thankful for" list nice and light ... 'cause Lord knows many of you are in for a rough Thursday full of in-laws, questionable conversations and pretending to like Grandma's runny green bean casserole. Enjoy.
Obamacare. Yeah, I said it. Though Mack has been in daycare for a few months now, the whole Mr. Full-Time Dad thing may never have happened due to a preexisting condition that was able to be covered when I transitioned to my wife's health plan. So, yes, the Affordable Healthcare Act allowed us the financial flexibility to keep our son at home (and me unemployed) for over a year.
Privacy. When I get it, I'm thankful for privacy ... and in every sense of the word. The privacy provided by childproof doorknob covers on the bathrooms. The privacy of having a home where we can eat spaghetti without shirts on to simplify post-dinner cleanup. The privacy of bedtime tuck-ins when I get to sing to my son without judgy looks I sometimes get at stoplights.
The laundry chute. I fought hard against this little addition to our home, but my wife insisted, arguing that we might as well do it when we already had the contractor working on other projects. She was right. It's awesome. Especially with Mack, who thinks laundry is the greatest game in the world and is now willing to "help" with other household chores as a result.
Balloons. Before ice cream became a part of his lived experience, balloons were the magic cure to every sour situation. First it was helium balloons. Then Dad got cheap and realized a bag of 10 regular balloons cost the same as one helium balloon. Now it's a joy watching all 35 pounds of him attempt to blow one up with the same breath of air going in and out ... and in and out.
Costco. If you have a Costco membership, I can't imagine you not being thankful. For parents, not only is it a one-stop-shop for groceries, clothes, booze and 7-foot-tall stuffed bears, it's also free dinner for your kids if you know how to game the free sample situation. (Hint: if you've got a cute kid like I do, you can go back as many times as your kid is willing to flash a smile.)
Holiday traditions. While I play a good Scrooge, I do secretly love holiday traditions. With Mack, I love the fact that I get to relive, reshape and rekindle my favorite aspects of each season, holiday or otherwise. This time of year, however, gives me free rein to get completely nostalgic, spoil my son and generally be a little less adult and a lot more childish.
Macklin. A friend of mine once told me when I was arguing against the idea of having kids that there's nothing like the feeling you get when your kid runs up to you, throws his arms around you and squeezes tight while resting his head on your shoulder. Man, was he right.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. It's a strange time to be alive, which can make it hard to focus on anything but the negative.
If you're reading this, however, you're in a position to reflect on all the good in your life as well. So stop and do that, and be thankful.
Ben Hanson writes about being a new father and other very random topics at benhanson.areavoices.com and MrFullTimeDad.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.