Crankiness in a week of thanks

Nov. 29, 2013 @ 12:48 PM

I blame it on the Metamucil ad in my Facebook feed.

The fiber supplement showed up the other day, right before Thanksgiving, and I got to thinking about how the advertisements that appear in the feed are most likely inspired by links and the content of status updates shared by users.

Have I really started getting old now, I wondered? Even on Facebook?

I remarried in March. Six months ago, we got a child. Since then, I’ve done so much less of the things that would have resulted in advertisements for gadgets, computer games and movies.

I felt a pang of untimely regret; a selfish twinge of remorse. This came right on the heels of my utter failure with National Novel Writing Month, which got off to a decent start – but my climb up the literary mountain didn’t make it past the first base camp before demands at work and home effectively shut me down.

I can’t remember the last time I stayed up for hours into the night, writing or playing a video game. I used to catch a movie a week at the cinema. Sometimes, when I felt especially daring, I’d catch the first midnight showing – even if I had to work the next morning.

Those days are gone, I thought. I’m a *parent* now. So much of my existence for the rest of my life must be invested in raising this little boy into a strong, capable man. That’s a lot to ask from someone whose previous experience on that resume amounted to raising a puppy into a warm-hearted-if-neurotic-about-weather family companion. Someone  used to doing what he wanted, when he wanted.

In a week when I should express thanks for all the blessings in my life, instead I felt cranky.

But on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day - as I watched John Michael try mashed potatoes for the first time and saw him stroking the ear of a friend’s dog, as I listened to him giggle that sharp, barking, gurgling laugh of his when I tickled his belly - that crankiness dissipated like this week’s chance of snow on my roof.

I’ve made a choice about the type of father I want to be.

I could be the guy who comes home, seals himself in his office and does his own thing while the wife does the work of raising the child. But that’s not how I’m wired. I don’t want to miss anything with this child.

I understand that these days with John Michael, as his personality takes shape and he grows increasingly independent, are finite. His teeth are popping through his gums. He’s learning to sit up. Crawling’s not far off. Before long, he’ll walk and talk.

And when he’s ready, we’ll sit together on the couch and play video games. We’ll be movie buddies at the theater – maybe in time for “Star Wars: Episode VIII.” I’ll get to do the things that I enjoy once more, but I’ll share them with him.

Also, the more I thought about it, the more I realized: I have it so incredibly easy, under the circumstances. My wife Catherine and I have great in-home day care during the week from Annie, a lovely woman who adores John Michael, allowing us to maintain full-time jobs.

I don’t know how single parents do it with just one child, let alone two, three, four or more. Those are the real miracle workers.

Ultimately, I’ve got nothing to be cranky about and a whole lot to be thankful for, including leftovers.

Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.