Oh the whining…the heart-piercing whining. When it woke me up for the third time—this time at 3:34am—I could do little more than roll over and moan, “What the #@!% have we done?”
It was the same feeling that washed over me when I first became a mom. After being tortured night after night with sleep deprivation, I wondered if we’d made a huge mistake. “Can we return to sender?” I’d joke with my husband.
BUT, just like when our daughter was an infant, the only thing this whining little bundle of love had to do was look at me with his big green eyes and I instantly turned to mommy goo.
“All right, boy, I’ll take you out AGAIN,” I said as I patted his head and tried to wrangle a smidgeon of humor as playfulness consumed him in the middle of the night, his puppy teeth needling my toes and pj’s on the way to the door.
What’s a mom to do, I laughed to myself.
Some might wonder why on earth we’d add the complexity–and sleep deprivation–of a puppy to our already-full lives. The answer is simple. For one reason, and one reason only: our daughter.
Just like my mom and dad let us adopt a dog when I was a young girl and Jeffrey’s parents did the same, we’ve given Olivia the gift of a slathering, furry, bundle of unconditional love so she can grow up knowing the joys and responsibility of caring for another living being.
As you might have guessed, we let Olivia name him, just like our parents let us name our dogs. Jeffrey crowned his Weimeraner with the name Harold when he was a kid, and I gave our brown mop of a poodle-ish pound mutt the name Brownie. Actually, it was far more sophisticated than that—Brownie Blue Green.
Every time I look at Doodles I think of Brownie Blue Green, and even more so my mom. No, not because my mom looked like Doodles, but because Doodles reminds me of all the things she sacrificed for me.
Let me take you back to when I was eight years old. With four kids, nothing was ever simple or calm around our house. Dad spent most waking hours trying to figure out how to make ends meet while Mom spent every minute of her day running our household, a job far more taxing than anything my dad ever did. From tackling mounds of laundry for three boys and a tomboy to grocery shopping, making school lunches, and mediating sibling disputes, she was at the center of it all. When she wasn’t applying band-aids or taking us to the ER, she was making dinner, sewing clothes for me or re-painting my room another shade of pink. I’m sure most nights she fell into bed exhausted. The fact that she would even consider adding a dog to this mix speaks volumes.
The only possible reason could have been her love for us kids.
When Doodles is demanding my attention at three in the morning and causing me to bumble through the next day in sleepwalking mode and pull me away from my writing, or when he’s chewing on my hand for the eight hundredth time in a single day, or wreaking puppy havoc on our garden, I’m going to take a deep breath and remember my mom.
I’m going to remember how her love and patience gave me the gift of Brownie Blue Green.
Brownie was a rescue dog who came with issues, but my eight-year old eyes saw nothing but sweet perfection. I adored everything about him, down to his stinky breath and matted hair. Every night he’d sleep on the end of my bed, often tracking muddy paw prints all over the delicate pink and white comforter my mom spent hours making. No doubt it drove her mad, but she never said a word, knowing I loved that dog more than I’d ever love a bedspread.
Even though Brownie tried to attack my dad every time he wore a gray suit (did I mention issues?), he was a lovable pooch. At bath time he’d always plop his scrappy-doo body next to the tub and keep me company while I washed away the day’s fun. And when it was time to practice my oboe, he’d sit patiently, his ears rising in pain as my squeaky music filled the room. Brownie Blue Green was the ultimate party animal, too. Be it slumber parties, dance parties or pool parties, somehow he always tolerated being dragged into the middle of the action.
I’m sure Brownie was a handful, but several decades later I have the selective amnesia of an eight-year old. I don’t even remember having to take care of him; somehow he was magically fed and bathed and his poop was scooped. My guess is that Mom was the one who pulled yeoman’s duty taking care of this rascal. For that I’m grateful because Brownie Blue Green gave me a treasure trove of childhood memories.
Now as I celebrate my mom–and her patience, love and strength (and hopefully draw upon it)–I know it’s my turn to pass this gift on to Olivia. No doubt Mom would agree, even if life was significantly less complicated before Doodles. She’d probably even tell me to let Doodles sleep on Olivia’s bed and leave muddy paw prints. After all, what’s a mom to
Did you have a dog when you were a kid? If so, how did he or she impact your life?