Thursday, January 27, 2011

Goodbye, Old Friend

‎"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

The above photo is of our very special cattle dog mix, Sydney, who I spoke of almost exactly two years ago here.  She was in her prime, around three years old, and newly transplanted from the Texas plains to the incredible beauty of northern California.  She'd make that journey with us back and forth across the same four states twice more, and travel to many cities in between. 

This was our girl today, (at the ripe age of sixteen), enjoying one last trip to take in California's beauty, though in a much quieter manner.  Instead of hiking with us across difficult terrain as she did in the photo above, this time my friend was given her own set of wheels: her beloved boys' radio flyer wagon.  

It all began with just she and I back in 1996. I, a senior in college who was feeling more than a little bit lost after losing my previous dog to a tragic accident; and she, a rescue who had been graciously saved by a woman who'd found her chasing cattle on a ranch near her home, and taken good care of her while waiting a month for a spot to open at the local no-kill shelter.  Eight years later we'd find the buckshot that remained inside her...evidence that a stray, cow-chasing dog in rural Oklahoma is not exactly a welcomed guest.

Today, it ended.  Again, just she and I.  We quietly rolled across the dunes and walked a tiny portion of the beach, (her legs would no longer allow anything more), and then two old friends sat quietly until it was time to go to the vet's office, watching the waves crash and retreat.  Crash and retreat...

I whispered in her ear over and over and over again, until I was sure she could no longer hear, 'I'm here.  I'm here.  I love you.  Thank you.'

My heart is a tiny bit broken.  Fifteen years is a long time to share your life with a pet.  We fought like sisters and consoled each other like best friends.  She was the smartest dog I have ever known and I hope that even in my worst pet-owner days that I still did somewhat right by this dog who loyally stood by my family for so long.

You're an angel now, Syd.  We will miss you always.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hopeful Parent-ku

I'm over at Hopeful Parents today with the following entry.  Be sure to click your way over to their site and sit down a spell!

Alright, let's get real here for a minute.  I have admittedly been a wee bit lax on regular blogging, which in turn means a laxness here at Hopeful Parents.  As I've said in my own blog, it's not that I don't have things to say, it's just that I realized that my state of mind recently is such that all my blog posts end up sounding whiny and bitchy.  I'm not a smoke and mirrors, everything-is-just peachy-when-really-it's-not kind of girl--quite the opposite--but it still doesn't feel right to me to look back on my reflections and to only read negativity.  I very briefly tried to hold myself to a weekly entry called 'thankful Sundays.'  My family does not attend church, so reflecting on what I was thankful for on a day traditionally held for church-going, I thought  was good practice.  Yep...didn't last very long.  The gripes took over way too often and made me feel false in my attempts to try and come up with something cheery.  (yes, this is all probably good information for a therapist or the zen teacher I probably need to start seeing)
So with that, I decided that today I wasn't going to bitch and whine.  No, sir, we're going to have a little fun here today, and I do hope that you'll join me!
Back when I lived on the mother ship, (that's the great state of Texas for those of you who don't know), I was a member of a lovely virtual community of mothers.  One such mother has her own fabulous blog called 'Haiku of the Day,' which I highly recommend you read.  Kari's pretty damned funny, and her haikus are, too, even though life is certainly not always a bowl of cherries for her either.  It's quite therapeutic to come up with your own haiku when things are seeming a bit shitty in your life, so I think today is a perfect time to come up with a few of my own.  They don't always have to be funny, and they don't always have to be sad; they're quick expressions of your feelings or current situation.  I find that leaving them as they are on my first take is best.  I honestly don't ever remember revising a haiku upon second reading as you might with other poetry styles.  Here's my quick take on a few haikus for today.  Share some of yours in the comments section!

Shower, elusive
My hair's still in a clip
Oh, wait, that's the dog!

Diapers at seven
Not quite what I imagined
No pee on the floor!

Little brother big
While bigger brother little
Confuses me some

 Parenting is hard
Nobody warned me of this
Where's my manual?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Winning Numbers

I tell people that B, my youngest who just turned four years old, is my lottery win. As with all things that attach themselves to a mother's sense of guilt, I do feel the need to qualify this statement by saying that this does not in any way lessen my love for M. M is his own beautiful being, but if I said that I did not have hopes that his (and my) life would go differently, I would be lying.

Now that that's out of the way, onto those winning numbers!

I don't talk about him enough here and I realize that I should. For he is my little beam of light, as frustrating as he-like many preschoolers-can certainly be.

I naturally had to 'guide' him on not chucking the sand he was digging into the wind, whereby it would then end up in his brother's and the dog's eyes.

B is smart. He has his father's quickness and my gift for gab--combined traits that both amaze and annoy me. But above all else, he is kind and thoughtful. He can seemingly Eddie Haskell you, but it's genuine--really and truly genuine. He knows just the right moment to come over and rub my back or plant a huge kiss on me and tell me, 'You're the most beautiful Mom ever,' or 'I love your heart.' (my personal favorite)

He didn't ask to be brought into a family where special needs loom over us day in and day out.  I realize that he knows no different, but I do believe it will serve him well in later years.  I'm sure most of us parents thrown into this mayhem believe this of our typical children.  

One thing that has increasingly been difficult for me to hear from my little man is his desire to have 'a three year old sister one day.'  I have heard this statement no less than five times a week for the past several months. I think he believes that a sister might talk and play with him; might not pinch and grab his arms when he tried to interact or did what little brothers are supposed to do and took away his big brother's toy.  (That's a bit more tricky when said toy is an iPad, the only 'toy' in which big brother shows ANY interest, day in and day out.)  Regardless, he tries so hard with his big brother, trying to please him by bringing him his favorite 'chewie' when he's out of sorts, or mimicking our words to try and get him to perform self-help skills or the like, when he says things like 'Use your fork, M!'  He does his very best to include a boy who seems to not want it.  And for that, I am greatly appreciative.

I desperately wish I could give him a more typical playmate, but if I may be honest here, I am petrified of trying to get pregnant again and have definitely closed my mind to that possibility.  I don't believe the other half thinks it would be a bad thing to attempt, but as the one who would carry the baby, I know that my current stress level would be a detriment to creating a healthy being.  And then, of course, there is that genetics thing.  See?  This is why I call B my lottery win.  And no one wins the lottery twice...

But back to my amazing boy.  Because this is my diary and I want to read it in later years and remember the wonder of him from this time--I need to do a better job of reminding myself of all those funny things he says and does.  Maybe I should create a running list on an entry I don't publish but once a year to memorialize those seemingly small phrases and gestures that he performs that tug at my heart or make me need to stifle a laugh in order to be the grown up I'm supposed to be.  For example, and I realize there are some readers who won't find this in the least bit funny, the other day (after having had an amazing birthday weekend complete with a visit from an out of town grandma and two cousins) he was feeling a bit pouty and clearly needed to try and hurt me.  So he looked at me with one eyebrow furrowed as much as he could, and a hand on his hips to say, 'I had a bad fucking birthday.'
Oh, my stars, I could not believe he said that!  I turned around for a split second to get it together and then turned back to him to appropriately reprimand him for saying such a thing.  I suppose this is one of those situations where the phrase 'Do as I say, not as I do' comes in handy?  Hopefully we won't hear anymore f-bombs come out of his beautiful little mouth until he's an adult :)

B has a great love for animals.  Until July of 2009, we had five pets:  three dogs and two cats.  A young woman in college and shortly thereafter does not consider the fact that adopting five animals in a relatively short time period means that all five will become senior citizens around the same time.  Nor does she consider that there may be any extenuating circumstances in her life that may make caring for five aging pets that much more challenging.  Nonetheless, I do hope (and believe) my love for animals has somehow rubbed off on my youngest child.  When we were close to losing the first of our five pets, our beloved Daisy dog, B would sit for what seemed a long time in the world of a then-two-year-old, petting her and loving on her and saying, 'Aww, poor girl,' as she laid quietly beside him, the cancer growing within her.  And though we'd talked very openly about Daisy's death and where we believed she went afterward, I was unable to tell him that I had made the decision last March to have one of our cats (Jade, aged 15 years) put to sleep because, despite not finding any medical reasons why, our least social pet was peeing so badly around our home that the boys could no longer sleep in their bedroom until we replaced the carpet.  He asked many times where Jade had gone--she'd had a habit of sneaking out from time to time and being gone for days on end despite being an indoor cat--and finally about six months after the fact, I *may* have told him in passing that she was in heaven.  Though I don't believe he had much of a relationship with Jade either, as recently as two weeks ago I overheard him telling an elf at a children's Christmas show (of all people!) that he had a cat once, named Jader, and she was in heaven.  Oh, this beautiful child who never forgets a single thing!  He amazes me!
And now, our oldest dog, Sydney, is very, very close to our needing to say goodbye.  At 16, she, too, has cancer that has spread to her bones.  And like with Daisy, I am open and honest with B about her.  Not because I am one of those Moms who gives her young children a little too much information, but because I know that he has that 'thing' within him to make heads or tails of it all when it comes to beloved pets.

So to my boy--the one who screamed for the first 18 months of his life and scared me into thinking that he'd be that way forever--you are my sunshine.  Really and truly.  My life is immeasurably better each and every day because of you.