A few of you have wondered where I have been lately--and if I could pinpoint the reason (and ironically, the overarching theme of this blog), it’s that I am generally overwhelmed with life. And also, that we got a dog.
To recap: Mike did not want a dog, while I have felt that our family Christmas photos have been lacking something furry. And you know how this goes, furry wins, because who can deny the power of adoption Saturday at PetCo? Not I.
Sloane (the dog) came with a lot of promises and soul-selling, mostly along the lines of doing everything she needed and not involving my husband at all. That’s not exactly how it has played out, but my intentions were GOOD. Not to brag or anything, but I can probably cure feline AIDS with my intentions.
So, Sloane arrives, and she is the sweetest thing EVER, and we fall in love with her--but are also, instantly invested in her bathroom habits. After seeing four children through diapers, there is a certain amount of irony involved in sweet talking sh#! out of a dog. But that’s the thing, the longer you live, the more your life is likely to become an Alanis Morisette song.
I take dog ownership very seriously, mostly because our last dog developed diabetes, and I didn’t really notice--but in my defense, I was neck deep in toddlers for a few years there. So I spent days searching for dog collars, and second guessing my choice of fabric for dog beds and arranging the dog kennels (one for the laundry room, one for our bedroom)--and on the first night she was here, I went to bed with that anxious feeling that I had with newborns. You know, that this might just be one, gigantic, sleep-deprived debacle.
She went quietly into the bedroom crate. It went pretty smoothly actually, and at some point, I drifted off to sleep, until about 3 a.m., when she stood and shuffled and turned herself around a few hundred times, and resettled herself. I figured she needed to pee, but I waited to see how it would play out--and then I started to think about monogramming fourth of July shirts, or something stupid, and BAM! It was 5:00 a.m. and the dog was still fast asleep and I was mentally picking imaginary paint colors for the bathroom. After two-hours of that BS, my brain exploded a little bit and I slipped into a coma.
Which explains why, exactly, I didn’t hear the dog awake at 5:30 a.m.
But Mike did.
The thing about Mike is that once he wakes up, he wakes up. He doesn’t roll over and will himself back to sleep for the next two hours. I do not understand this, it sounds exhausting.
He took the dog downstairs and let her out, and fed her, and then let her out again. And then he went for a run.
While he was gone, the kids got up at some point (the were WIRED like they were on crack, over this dog), and they plopped themselves on the couch and turned the television on. And then they watched the dog take a crap on the floor. And left it there for Dad to clean up, when he got home from his run.
This did not fly so well. Or, that’s the impression I got, when Mike woke me at 7 a.m. with fire shooting from his eyes. I’m pretty good with non-verbals.
I should probably tell you that our first dog didn’t ever *fully* master being housebroken. In hindsight, I think this might have had something to do with the diabetes. But in the car that morning, I asked Mike why he was so...on edge, exactly. Because we’ve cleaned a lot of sh#! in the past 11 years, so one might argue that we are well qualified for this.
“I’m worried that this dog is not going to be housebroken,” was his answer.
I told him not to worry about it, that she just felt out of place and that she needs to get used to our yard. It sounded logical, and I was hopeful. Not to brag or anything, but my hopes could probably end world poverty.
“No, I’m worried it’s US. You and me. That we don’t do dogs very well. That WE are the problem.”
Totally a fair observation. But I told him we are in a different place, that the kids are more independent, that I will be on top of it, that I will rewire my brain to sleep between the hours of 3-5 a.m. But also, that affecting the bowel habits of animals with our simple presence is kind of awesome and should not be discounted as a super power. Or a laxative. People spend lots of money on laxatives, I reminded him.
Needless to say, this put me on my A-game--and instead of responsibly altering my sleep habits, I’ve stayed up until midnight watching The Bachelorette and sleeping lightly, and waking up at 6 a.m. to take the dog out (as promised, with the soul-selling). And generally just not sleeping well. At. All.
Also, there is another part of this story, and it’s that I signed my kids up for two different swim teams (year round Club team and recreational summer swim team), and that I am usually driving someone to a pool at 7:15 most mornings. Also, it’s this gigantic math equation, having to figure out who needs to be where, at what time, and with what carpool, and if I can get 30 more minutes to sleep before I need to start spinning the proverbial hamster wheel--but damn it, there is not a chance, because I have literally been doing mini-van geometry for the past hour and now my brain hurts.
Also. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I paid money to wake up at 6:30 (really, 6:00, because, THE DOG), and go workout and do sprints and stuff. So there’s that. Oh, the irony, that I have raised kids who can make breakfast (translation: pour cereal) and not electrocute themselves without constant supervision--and yet our extracurricular activities make all of that a non-factor. I used to think I was teaching them to be self-sufficient on Saturday mornings; turns out this parenting thing is really about producing well-rounded kids, and that is a hell of a lot more work.
I know, I know, I know. I DID this. I signed up for 8,365,213 different activities that start before 8 a.m. and they all started the week I got a dog. I get it.
But here’s the thing. The kids are awake and chillin’ to “Crash and Bernstein” until someone makes breakfast--and from there we have a rule that everything electronic gets turned off. And there’s a lot of time to fill, because that’s the magic of summer, all of this glorious time that we never have enough of in the months between September and May. I’m all for fun excursions and bowling and paper mache--but there are a lot of hours and there is a fine balance between having time, and having too much time. We need a bit of structure or else we begin to resemble Jabba the Hutt.
Unfortunately, my kids are at the ages where the activities happen at three seperate times throughout the morning, and while it’s kind of a pisser, that’s LIFE. At least, it’s our life right now. Earlier this year, I resigned myself to the idea that this is what life looks like when you are in school full-time and playing a sport. I assumed it would be easy and fun, like eating snacks from a magically packed cooler on 70 degree fall days; it is more like quick dinners and traffic and sitting in humid indoor pools. My hopes and intentions for my kids are still the same though--it just looks (and feels) a lot more like a manic cocaine bender, all crazy and disheveled and what not. But knowledge is power--in this case, the power to adjust my expectations about what this particular stage of parenting looks like, and what it actually is. Having kids isn’t all ice cream and trips to Disney World; but it also isn’t entirely sleepless and vomit-covered either. It’s all things, and the perspective to understand them in a bigger context--and this season is much the same, just with more dog hair and driving.
Happy summer, friends.