Friday, April 20, 2007

So Long Loyal Friend

I have heard it said that quality of time is more important than quantity of time, and that has never been more true than in the life of our sweet Gus. Gus was the perfect dog. We brought him home from the pound 6 months ago, and he changed our love for the canine species completely. Many people joked that Gus was more of a prop than a pet, because he loved to curl up at your feet and would not move for hours. He would let Kate crawl all over him, and he protected Emma from other animals at the park when we played. He loved going for long walks, and he is the only lab I have ever known that I could walk easily while pushing a double stroller. I never once heard him bark. He was the best family pet I could have ever asked for. Gus' life was not the best. Before being dumped at the pound, he had been used as a breeder, and spent the majority of his life in a cage that he could not stand up in. Because of this he was very leary of humans, but he bonded with our family in a way I could not have hoped for.

Yesterday, we lost our sweet Gus. I took him to the vet and never imagined that I would not be bringing him back home with me. He had been going down hill for the past two weeks, and the vet discovered yesterday that he had cancer in his liver and in his spleen. She suggested it was kinder if we put him out of his misery, so that is what we did. Our whole family was there, and I sat with Gus as they put him to sleep. It was an emotional thing, explaining death to my daughter for the very first time. Even the death of a pet. And it will forever seem strange that he will not be greeting us at the door when we arrive home any longer. So long, loyal friend. You will always be missed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Mother's Musings: From Diapers to Goldfish


Being a mama is most often under appreciated and unglamorous work. When you become a mama, your life is no longer your own. You are on call forever, no questions asked. Being a mama means being a servant, a nurse, a referee, a chef, a teacher, a toy mechanic, a disciplinarian, a laundress, and a personal assistant. Sometimes, all at the very same time. When viewed in this light, motherhood might seem a bit overwhelming and downright scary, but being a mama is all I have ever wanted to be.

I do not remember the first time I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to be a mama. My own mama believes the mothering instinct was ingrained in my soul, long before my birth. She recalls a time before I could even walk, when I lovingly rocked the laundry as if it were my baby. As a young girl, I remember crying when we had to go on vacation, because I worried about who would take care of my baby dolls while I was away. Even as a teenager, while most girls daydreamed about make up, and boys, and the prom, I dreamed about having a large country home, a white picket fence, and a supper table filled with babies. And in my dream we always lived happily ever after.

I would like to tell you that my dream has come true, and in many ways, it has. I do not live in the country, but I do live in a very old farmhouse. We do not have a white picket fence,  but we are building a nice, brown, privacy fence this summer. And while I do not have an entire houseful of babies (yet), I am the proud mother of two toddler girls who keep me busy and laughing.

Yet, while I am most definitely blessed, I often wonder about the happily ever after portion of my dream. I wonder about this, because as much as I love being a mama, motherhood is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. In my dreams, being a mama was like playing house! No one ever told me about the hundreds of diapers I would change a day, or about the endless months of sleepless nights. No one spoke of the stretch marks or love handles that would permanently transform my figure, or the fact that parts of me would never look the same again without professional help. I never knew that spit up would be the only accessory I could count on wearing every single day. I didn't think about sticky little hands ruining my furniture, and I certainly never thought about the amount of worry that comes with being a mama. Not to mention the actual process of bringing a child into the world! Being a mom is a tireless job that never ends, no matter how old our babies become.

But even knowing what I know now, I would not change a thing about my life. Caring for and molding the little people in my care is the most important job in the world. And as I walk through this diapers and goldfish season of my life, I try to remember to savor every moment. I remind myself that it is simply that, a season. Before I know it, the leaves of my life will change and my babies will no longer be babies. They will be grown women and all I will have left, will be a lifetime of beautiful memories. And perhaps, if I am really lucky, a few goldfish crumbs, too. I am a mama, and I will never be the same.