“There will be one time when I pick my child up it will be the last and I won’t even know it.”
A thought like this could quietly light the fuse that quick burns and blasts me into a deep state of depression. Were I not 41 and entirely used to it, a thing that could render me unable to move for a number of days. Instead I shrug my shoulders and bear the brunt force of it, keeping it to implosion vs explosion.
In millennial terms “I can’t even.”
These moments of motherhood insist on daily mini heartbreaks. Sadness and joy, gratitude and cuts-to-the-bone all canoodling about on a regular basis.
A simple gesture, the way a hair falls out of place, the serious protest in a specific tiny face, the gait of a walk are all things that are so full of hope, a love so unlike any other, the way a mom sees her kid. It’s crushing and beautiful.
Time lapses around these little hints of My Child is where life is magical and fleeting.
It’s ground dividing into two – gratitude or emotional death. There is no in between. These moments are what give me life.
If my children, no matter how big, were injured of course I’d immediately snap into some kind of super hero strength to carry them as far or as long as required. This, however, is not the same kind of carry that is habitually toting them on a regular basis.
The first day I was alone with Puppy wasn’t nerve-wracking. I had been here before but with baby humans.
Any parents who try and make it seem like a puppy isn’t remotely the same thing as a baby is lying to you. If you want to dip a toe into the waters of parenthood then a puppy is the perfect place to start.
Over the months this tiny alien furball who existed only to nap on my lap gave way to a bigger puppy. In the beginning, my hands are able to reach the keyboard and work for hours without disrupting the puppy snoozefest occurring on my lap. Unable to understand his growth and my lap’s lack of, Puppy began huffing and shifting frustrated at the inability of his body to fit. It was both heartbreakingly adorable and heartbreaking.
I guess there was a last time Puppy lap napped and I don’t remember it because it never happens anymore.
When Puppy was xtra-small I awakened at night to whimpering and received visceral flashbacks of nightly disruptions, a nod to the stringing together of 4 years of pregnancy and nursing.
During this time, in light of day I was back to a modified shuffling zombie experience, the distant echo of full-blown newborn motherhood. Through this I earned the feelings of elation gifted to me when waking up to a romping little innocent baby dog, cuter than I could imagine. Another level is reached (still) when I see my children-formerly known-as-babies, now have an alarm clock of puppy licks to their faces.
If I could bottle up what it feels like to drop a puppy onto my kids’ beds in the morning I’d deal it out, you’d all be hooked for life and I’d be rich.
And although the shop’s been closed for years, when I see mothers and sons I know there is a specific experience there that is lovely. Aside from the fact that he is not human, having a boy puppy does stir up a different feeling for me.
My kids embrace the tasks of caretaking and adore their little dog-brother. The children don’t balk at taking him out or feeding him, they weirdly LOVE picking up his poop and entertain him for hours. If only I had their help with themselves when they were babies.
Puppy is turning into a good little dog. It is clear that when he reaches adulthood and beyond he is not our protector at all. He can’t Dog in that way. As I watch him sprawled fully on his back, torso exposed, heavily sleeping through any knock on the door it is clear that we will have to look out for him.
Puppy is a cuddler of the tallest order, pressing his compacted strong fuzzy body into my stomach when he sleeps, the upper half of his drowsy body crushing his human-sisters’ laps while we watch TV. When this happens and the oldest kids is bursting with pee she insists on transferring Puppy’s body to a stunt double lap because “mom, you can’t ever move away when a puppy is sleeping on you.” Puppy regularly puts his face in ours looking for kisses and hugs and never not lazily pees on his own foot.
The nuances of each individual puppy (or child) are reminders that even though it can feel like we are worthless, invisible and un-affecting in the mass chaos the evidence begins to stack that all those feelings are kind of a lie. In our lives each of us have a great impact on those who know us, for better or worse. Motherhood is a moment-to-moment reminder of this. With bright shiny eyes watching and tiny hands in ours we have to be things we maybe feel impossible to be.
Yesterday Puppy was fixed, had a baby tooth extracted and a benign lump on his neck removed. He was gone the full day and as I worked my anxiety bubbled just beneath the surface. When we picked him up the staff at the vet’s were doting on Puppy and in sweet voices told us what a good boy he is.
As the instructions for post-op care were given, my mom-auto-pilot clicked in. It is a gear I am forced to use often.
Introversion, social anxiousness plus a whole bunch of other shit – it turns out – are things you can shut down if the situation is deemed important enough.
When it comes to my children I have said and done things unfathomable previously. All fears and reservations are dropped if it means helping, protecting or simply giving my children experiences that I deem valuable in all life realms. Anything from real deep learning moments to doing something FUN (I’m lookin’ at you, theme park ride lines) are on the menu regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me.
Aside from knowing I’d without hesitation literally have my arm cut off with a rusty, dull Swiss Army knife for my kids I seem to forget the last time my arms were able to carry my own overgrown unhelpful tendencies.