Life Is Always Half Full

Because of the tyranny of print publication schedules and my own relentless urge to be ahead of the game, I’m writing this in mid-August, and here you are reading it, like, six months later. Even though life has moved on, this is fresh on my mind so work with me for a minute, even though it’s old news to you.

I decided this year to not wait until the last minute to get school supplies. Even though no one wants to think about the return of school in early August. But I did (maybe my teenage daughter refers to me as Danny Tanner for a reason). I was blown away by my own planning skills.

I saw a note I had left to myself that said “look in bag in office,” so I stumbled into the office, found an unusual bag that had a note on it that said “school supplies to reuse for Grade 7”’. After cross-referencing the school supply list and finding that, much to my pleasure, I needed to buy a grand total of two things. Do I bother buying the second eraser and second fine-tip black felt marker or do I just wing it, and allow myself a summer of buying zero school supplies? I’d like to say I just wing it but the Danny Tanner in me didn’t allow that: I bought them.

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So what’s the point here? Leave yourself notes that you’ll forget about then read months later as if someone else wrote them, leading you around the house on a scavenger hunt of sorts? Well, yeah, that was weird and awesome and I felt pretty good about it. Be organized and do stuff early? Always, but that’s pretty lame and no one wants to hear it. Something about back to school? No, that was like a month ago by the time you read this.

My point is this; did I ever have a secret little smile on my face the evening this all went down. No one knew what I was doing, probably no one cared, but it was just…a win. Take ‘em where you can, I figure. As a dad—as a parent—you can go through long stretches without those wins. Not that life is a miserable slog, of course. But just that it’s go, go, go, and it can be an uphill battle sometimes.

But don’t dwell on that. I’ve been making the mistake of zoning out on social media a bit lately. Doing the hatescroll, just watching everyone be miserable and hate everything. I’ll do it for 10 minutes, snap out of it, and feel horribly embarrassed for wasting my time. My only takeaway is that there’s a lot of people out there seeing the cup half empty.

And no matter how hard life gets, no matter the struggles—personal, private, public, major, or minor—that we face as parents, I refuse to see the cup as half empty. Even during the hardest times life has to offer—housing issues, medical diagnoses, moments of defeat—I’ll stick that note somewhere secret to remind myself that there will be brighter days ahead. That note is metaphorical, of course; even Danny Tanner here has his limits.

I mean, there always are brighter days ahead, more victories down the road. And sometimes they’re just small victories. Sometimes it’s just reusing two orange duotangs from Grade 6 for Grade 7. But they were in great shape, man, and it almost made me pump my first in the air in victory.

And it’s not much, at all. By the time this is in print, I’ll probably barely remember any of this happening. I’ll be too caught up in whatever else is happening, whatever parenting ups and downs that have me by the throat at that particular point in time. But here and now, the orange duotangs are a reminder that there are always moments of victory to be found. You sometimes just have to work a bit to find them, and sometimes you have to make them happen yourself.

Greg Pratt
Greg Pratt
Greg Pratt is the father of two children and a local journalist and editor. His writing has appeared in, among other places, Today’s Parent, Wired, Revolver, and Douglas.