Friday, January 20, 2012

Sudden Dog Syndrome

When I was old enough to start having babies, my mother told me this: if you accidentally get pregnant, don't even think about bringing it home to me. She wasn't trying to be cruel, but she was  letting me know that fuck ups of that nature would be mine alone to handle. The funny thing is,were I to arrive on her stoop with a squalling babe in arms, she was the last person to banish me to the Home for Unwed Mothers. She'd have thrown the kid in to whatever the mix was and kept on going. She has the energy of a thousand Huns.
Her warning did give me a sense of how important it was NOT to get knocked up before I was ready to take on the responsibility and have kids by choice rather than by unhappy accident, so I was rather vigilant about not making dumb mistakes in that department. I was acutely aware and relatively fearful of getting pregnant. Lots of people I knew did get pregnant, even if they thought they were being "safe". I was always particularly baffled by the stories about those girls who got a little hefty in high school only to unexpectedly give birth to a baby in a bathroom stall on prom night. Having been pregnant, twice, it made no sense to me that a girl could be that oblivious about her body, yet competent enough to maintain a decent GPA and hide the whole sordid mess from her family.
It continues to happen, once every few months there is a story on the news about a baby found dead in a dumpster. The lack of awareness is astonishing-denial is clearly not just a river in Egypt- but the shock, awe and sense of wanting to pretend it didn't happen? Yeah, I totally get that.....
You see, out of nowhere, based on some vague and entirely hypothetical conversation about the eventuality of getting one-we adopted a rescue dog last weekend( okay, so, really I got ambushed and was coming off a serious NO bender where I put the kibosh on a lot of stuff that I really didn't want to do, so I kind of had to say "yes" to this). Now, this may seem to you to be totally unrelated to giving birth to a surprise baby in a bathroom stall, but for me, it carries the same psychological wallop: I am now the extremely reluctant mother to a needy, smelly, whining, overly attached mid-calf high obese Beagle Daschund mutt that will remain the emotional equivalent of a two year old human forever (not my favorite age, frankly),who follows me around my once blissfully empty house all day, clacking his nails across the hardwood floors and licking his paws incessantly. I will never be alone again, and not in the good way. I can no longer leave the house after the kids go to school and stay out all day doing whatever I please. I can no longer plan a quick weekend family getaway without calling in a babysitting favor or spending more than the cost of our hotel room to board the dog at a local pet hotel. Welcome to dog ownership......
In the last five days, I have lost hours of sleep to barking, howling and whimpering. I have thrice cleaned up excrement from the rug in our playroom-one of the times was AFTER taking him on a freezing ten o'clock at night walk where he desperately tagged the sidewalk with pee. I have spent over three hundred dollars so far on the following dog related paraphernalia: an attractive enough dog bed(though he still needs to be asked to get the fuck of the sofa four to ten times a day), anti- shedding brushes (though my car still looks like Susan Powter shaved her head in the back seat), anti-smell spray(he began "scooting" almost immediately-otherwise known as wiping his ass all over the rugs in whatever room he happened to be sitting in), a stuffed squeaking duck(which he loves), a vet visit(had his impacted anal glands drained, bought expensive flea meds and had his weight checked),a portable water bowl and backpack for hiking(he needs to drop almost half his body weight,which makes me feel kind of thin by comparison, so it might be good for my self esteem to hike with him) and weight reduction dog food.
I am now a "dog person"- even though I don't really want to be one-much like those poor oblivious chubby girls are suddenly mothers. Everyone keeps saying "oh, you will grow to love him, dogs are great", and I hope that is true. I know that most of the girls that pee out a baby don't keep it, they throw it in the garbage, or hide it until it is to late. I have no intention of throwing away my new "baby". I am merely grasping at a little self preservation here, but I'm not a monster. I am not a teenager with my insecurities riding shotgun and expectation weighing on me like a lead X-ray vest. I am a forty two year old mother of two whose insecurities are back-burnered somewhere in a pile of crap I need to catalog right after I finish the kid's first year baby books and clean the garage. The only expectation I have weighing on me is that I will deliver what I promised to deliver: Me. Mommy.Wife. I am certainly mourning the loss of my former free wheeling daytime self, and probably feeling sorry for myself because I married  such a persuasive man with such a limitless amount of  love to give, and for  having raised two very persuasive, loving, kind children who really wanted to rescue a dog(as it clack clack clacks in to the room and rubs a nice smear of slobber onto my pants).  As we were about to adopt,we ran into a friend who also has two kids. I felt a pang of jealousy as she declared herself "too selfish" to get her kids a dog. Yeah, I am "too selfish" as well, but obviously also too chicken shit to back it up.
Taking care of things can be challenging and is extremely humbling, and I better get used to it because we can assume that at least one aging relative is coming down the pike.  Doing for others is actually quite important-it tends to force people to focus on something besides their own needs. Not that I haven't already been doing that for the past six and half years with the two incredibly adorable but  demanding children I already have, but I guess a gal can't have too much humility. Who knows, maybe the dog,whose name is Frankie,  will become my new best friend, and we will slim down together and enter the Mrs. America pageant. I can have dog obedience be my talent, and we can wear matching bathing suits while he pretends to roll over dead after I shoot him with my imaginary gun. Always wanted a dog that did that....