Last fall, I visited Jessie’s first-grade class to talk about writing. During my presentation, I also discussed the importance of having a good attitude. I held up a picture of a glass half full of water. The picture’s caption read, “Positive Attitude – It changes everything.” I asked the students what they thought this picture meant. One boy gave the priceless answer, “It’s important that we drink lots of water.” I went on to explain that a person with a positive attitude would say the glass is half full, whereas someone with a negative attitude would say the glass is half empty.
Shortly thereafter, Jessie and I had a wonderful daddy-daughter date to a Christmas show at our local theater. Prior to the opening act, I waited for her outside of the women’s bathroom. I held her magenta, heart- shaped, sequin-covered purse, which didn’t go at all with the suit that I was wearing. I smiled and said “thank you” to a man who complimented my purse. Though his “Nice purse” comment didn’t bother me, I silently questioned, “Why am I stuck holding Jessie’s purse?” Then I thought, “Am I practicing what I preached about keeping a positive attitude?”
During the performance, I frequently glanced over to watch Jessie’s facial expressions. I’m not sure which was bigger, her smile or her eyes, as she listened to the music and watched the ballerinas dance. Suddenly, I felt like I was starring in a credit card commercial: Lunch at Cracker Barrel – $11, Two tickets to the Sunday matinee – $25, Viewing the happiness on my daughter’s face – priceless.
Of course, not every moment in life can feel like a commercial. As Jessie watches me tackle the highs and lows that each day brings, I wonder what attitude she sees. Am I passing on a half-full or half-empty perspective to her watching eyes and listening ears?
In a few weeks, we’ll sit around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving and reflect on the past year. It hasn’t been a perfect year, but I’ll focus on the positive and feel grateful. Our house, now on the market for over five years, remains unsold. At least, unlike two years ago, a tree didn’t fall on it. I received feedback from a respected literary agent that my book manuscript, the one I thought was perfect, still needs work. Yet she suggested how to improve it and invited me to send it to her again when it’s finished. We will be celebrating Thanksgiving without a special loved one who died this year, and missing my father, who we lost three years ago. However, we are grateful for the time that we had with them and that all of our other family members made it through another year.
The next time I stand in front of a women’s restroom holding a shiny purse, I’ll smile, knowing that the years for holding daughters and their little-girl belongings pass way too quickly. I will treasure every moment with Jessie, even if I don’t look fashionable. My glass isn’t half empty. My glass isn’t half full. My glass is overflowing. Until next month, have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember to cherish the moments.
Editor’s Note: This column was written in November 2012. Patrick’s house sold and settled in 2013. Currently, he’s working on two manuscripts, his monthly “moMENts” column, and another new column he plans to unveil in 2015. Patrick is also keeping busy raising a “tween” and being a full-time husband.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer (Twitter @PatrickHempfing).