Room for more

We got dogs. Yes, that’s dogs with an “s.” If you had asked me a year ago if that was an option for our family I would have said absolutely no … freakin’ … way. A year ago I was drowning in tasks, all of them crucial to each day. My plate overfloweth. And on top of that, I was crabby about it on a regular basis. “Do I have to do everything around here?” I would gripe in my head until the same sentiment would eventually come out of my mouth in one form or another.

But that was then and this is now.

Telling my friends and family about the dogs elicited a variety of responses, but the ones I noticed the most were along the lines of, “Oh, because you weren’t busy enough already,” or “Wow, I would never do that,” or simply “Two? Two puppies?” followed by a quizzical stare.

“Yeah. They’re great!” was my answer each time. How could I quickly explain this journey that has lead us to a place where we are ready and able to expand our family? It reminds me of that show, Clean Sweep, where the experts come into a cluttered house and coach people through getting rid of all the stuff that’s not useful and getting in their way. It’s always a struggle to convince them to let go but then they’re ecstatic to have all this space to use in new and better ways.

Our clutter took the form of damaging behaviors based on old habits, patterns, and beliefs. And just like on the TV show, some are easy to let go of and others had to be gently pried from our hands (and, yes, a few remain in the closet that we’re still trying to part with). But the result is the same: space to grow and room for new experiences.

So I no longer gripe in my head about having to do everything, and the whole reason I could welcome two puppies into our family is because I no longer interfere with all the things my girls can do for themselves. We work together to take care of the puppies and they give us joy and create new memories every day. For us, I can’t think of a better way to use our new-found functional family space.

ps Although we are at a place now where two puppies don’t upset the apple cart, a couple of apples did roll off during the first week. One of them was Charlotte’s homework — not only doing it but also remembering to bring it back to school. Resisting distraction is a big challenge for Charlotte and the puppies are that with a capital D. After several days with the dogs I asked her, “So how are things going with your reading homework?” “Not good,” she said flatly. “I had to stay in from recess because I didn’t have my reading contract.” “Oh. Bummer.” After a long pause she said, “Mom? Can I go get my books and read to you now?” “Yes!” I said, and that night she did her whole reading list.

I am then supposed to write down what she reads and sign it and put the paper into her book bag. In the morning I did that and I thought, ok now I’ll put the whole thing into her hands so then she’ll take it right to her backpack. I found her in the mudroom playing with the dogs. “Here you go,” I said, “I signed it.” She took it out of my hands, did a quarter turn, and placed it on top of the newspaper pile. Then she looked at me. She knew exactly what I was thinking! I pursed my lips together to keep quiet, smiled and … walked away while Charlotte happily went back to playing with the dogs. I stood in the kitchen chanting to myself, “I will not interfere with the growth of my child, I will not interfere with the growth of my child…”

Ten minutes later the neighbor arrived to take them to school. “Bye mom!” “Bye!” They left and I peeked into the mudroom to see her reading folder still sitting neatly on top of the newspaper pile. My new mantra kicked in right away: It’s ok. She did her homework and that’s progress. She’ll get through the day and get another shot at it tomorrow. Meanwhile, I will be grateful to the puppies for providing a whole new way for her to practice resisting distraction. Now repeat all that three times, breathe, and move on …

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Miscellaneous

One Comment on “Room for more”

  1. Vicki Says:

    Love this. Love the way you thanked the puppies for their help in teaching your darling daughter about managing distractions.

    I also know that many of your readers are interested in life post Twelve Weeks. They want to know about the growth and the process and how the relationship with the girls is going.

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