Pouring Grief into a Puppy

I know my Mom is looking down from heaven and thinking, “Are you crazy?” Yes, I finally caved and got the dog my two youngest children have been begging for. I’m sure she also thought that when I told her I was pregnant with my fourth child.   I wanted that child (who to my surprise, ended up being a girl after three boys). I didn’t want a dog.  We had a dog when I was growing up, so I knew how much work it would be.  My siblings and I loved the dog but my parents were not big fans.  Before my Mom died last month I told her I would be getting a dog.  When I asked her why she had gotten one, she said, “It was a moment of weakness.”

If you’re not a dog lover, isn’t that why we all give in?  We kind of want to give our kids the childhood they want, which in their mind includes an adorable dog to play with.  Oh, and they promised me they’ll take care of it.  Yeah right.  I’m not exactly counting on that.

So why did I cave? I received a call from my kids’ sleepaway camp saying they wanted to draw blood on my 9-year-old daughter to test for a thyroid condition.  She was hysterical, so I used “incentive-based parenting,” as my sister calls it. Yes, I bribed her.

“Naomi, if you do this, I will get you a dog.”

Her sniffles miraculously stopped.  Motivated by the prospect of a puppy, she dug down deep and consented to having her blood drawn.

When I told my husband what had happened, he said, “Really? A dog?”

“I thought you wanted a dog,” I countered.

“Well yeah, I did but I was kind of over it,” he replied.

Oh well – when you’re the mama fielding those calls, sometimes you just have to make an executive decision.

I know this will be my dog.  And once I made up my mind to go for it, the idea that I could pour my grief into loving a puppy became kind of appealing.  A big distraction from my grief, for sure, but also another way to think of my Mom all the time.  My childhood dog loved my mother and followed her everywhere.  The guy who picked up and delivered the dry cleaning (yes, in the good old days) used to chat and flirt with my Mom; our dog hated him for it.  I will miss sharing my experiences as the “dog mom” with my mother; I would love to compare notes with her.  Like how the dog follows you all around the house, just wanting to be near you.  Laying on my feet as I wash the dishes.  Hanging out while I fold laundry.  A little companion for the daily drudgery.  Or share a laugh with her – when I was telling one of my son’s friends we were getting a dog, he asked if we were adopting it.

I said, “Son, unless I gave birth to the dog, it’s adopted!”

He’s only been here a few days and it’s like having a newborn.  I know this phase is temporary.  I have a lot on my plate what with a disabled son who is medically fragile.  I will rely on my other children to take care of the dog when I have to care for my sick son.  When the dog is yapping from 3 to 5 am, I have moments of thinking, “THIS is why I didn’t want a dog,” but they are fleeting.  It gives me an excuse to stay close to home, since he needs the company as he acclimates to our family and he needs to be walked frequently.  Home is where I feel like being now, six weeks after my Mom died.  I can tend to running our home life and contemplate a world without my Mom in it.

I think the puppy will help me manage through the “ruff” times, don’t you? Image

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3 thoughts on “Pouring Grief into a Puppy

  1. The dog is adorable! I loved your “incentive parenting” technique. Totally guilty of the same and may soon find myself the caretaker of a hedgehog (which I’m hoping my kid forgets about).

    Thank you for sharing your blog. I’m hooked!

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