Letting Life Lead
At only two years old, my daughter told us with a confident nod, “I want a doggie.”
How adorable! How sweet!
Five years later, the statement has turned from cute assertion to a nagging, whining plea in stereo from two mouths.
“When are we getting a puppy?”
“Are we going to get a puppy this weekend?”
“You said we were getting a puppy.”
“How much longer? Can’t we get one now!?”
A time existed when I could squeal in delight at the mere mention of a warm, furry thing tripping over its own feet. I love animals after all. Several four-footed and winged creatures enriched my life over the years. We have two cats. I even loved my husband’s neurotic tabby who would hiss at me if we passed in the hall too close on a hot summer day. The same cat that ran from the second floor all the way to the basement to hiss and growl at me when I stubbed my toe because I had ruined his nap with my banshee call. The cat that left me distraught when he disappeared one night and never came home. The house felt soulless.
Something happened to me when I had kids and entered my forties.
The kids say dog and I hear, “more shit to do”.
There it is. I said it.
Our cats are confined indoors and I’ve become the sole person cleaning the daily stench. I clean the toilets multiple times a day just so I can do my own business because my son has not learned stream control. How hard it is to lift both seats and pee into to the giant, porcelain hole?
My kids brush their teeth and blue mouthwash and sparkly tooth paste end up in a Jackson Pollock smear on the counters, faucet and mirror. This doesn’t happen when I supervise by the door and don’t blink. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, picking up, and wipe downs.
It never ends.
Cute puppies need food and shelter, bowls and bedding, and have fur to brush. I imagine big hair balls chasing cat fur dust bunnies. I see pee puddles and landmines and walking and training and refereeing.
I predict a few toys will not make it through the teething stage despite a million reminders to put them away. I would worry about my shoes if they weren’t already falling apart.
Guess who is going to channel Doc McStuffins to glue and sew together the tragedies.
I don’t want a dog.
I don’t want to wake up in the wee hours to let it outside. I don’t want to walk it in the rain or when it’s hot or when it’s cold. I don’t desire to get a backache bathing it, to wrestle with brushing it, or to work up a sweat trimming nails. I don’t want to poop scoop. Okay?
Yet, I find myself sighing and agreeing and listing to my husband what kind of dog we will not be getting. Not bigger than medium sized and not long-haired. It can’t be so high energy and intelligent that we risk returning home to a hole chewed in the microwave. If I could get a dog that behaved a bit more like a cat, I’d be on that faster than you can say squirrel.
It’s not because I’m a cat person. Cats just take less looking after and I’m mighty tired of all the things that need looking after.
I know the reality is inevitable. It’ll be a long road of messes and frustrations. The dog we pick will grow bigger than anticipated and I’ll be doing the majority the daily drudgery. And that puppy will wheedle its way into my affections with its baby wiles and warm pink belly. It’ll get underfoot and steal my dinner (Dakota you still owe me those boneless ribs you opportunistic mongrel). I’ll buy the high-grade food, replace dog toys, and train the lump of fur. I’ll love it and one day mourn its passing.
That childhood ignorance and glee left me a long time ago. That is the price and the burden of experience. The road is traveled and the obstacles anticipated.
I don’t have to June Cleaver or Donna Reed my way through the day. I’ll get slimy kisses on my face and warm heads in my lap even if I endure daily chores with a grumpy attitude — and I’m not talking about the future puppy.
I don’t need to love the things I do for the ones I love.
And, that’s okay.
(40 years in the making)
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