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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Moms, Dads and Puppies

I've been married for 15 years, have had children for 14 years, and a puppy for 1 week. I think being married has been the easiest thing on this list.

The puppy reminds me about motherhood all over again, but in a different sort of way. For some reason, this little 9 week old ball of fluff has attached himself to the oldest daughter, who's 14. She wanted him, she loves him, but he's wearing her out a little.

He follows her around. He perks up and jumps for joy when she walks into the room. He barks when she leaves the house and he can't follow. He actually throws himself at her closed door and howls little puppy howls when she shuts him out with the words "I just need a little break from you!"

This little scene reminds me of being a mom for the first time.

I wanted that little baby my whole life. I went to college and started a career so I could take care of myself and my future baby. I traveled a lot to get it out of my system before I settled down. I took my time choosing the daddy, to make sure I'd get smart, funny and beautiful children. I didn't get married until I was 27, even though my mom said "I had all four of you kids by the time I was your age!"

And when I finally got that first baby in my arms, I was so happy. She was everything I hoped and dreamed.

I just didn't know she'd change things so much. I knew my life had always been all about me, and that eventually I'd grow up and change. But having the baby made it happen over night. It was just so sudden. It would never really be about me again, no matter how much I pretended, and I didn't even care that much, because I finally had my baby.

The baby made me tired and cranky, but I loved her. We'd spend hours watching her sleep and poking her chubby little arms and feet and making her laugh. We fought over who got to hold her. I quit my job and stayed home with her. I just couldn't bear to leave her.

Now that baby is 14, and she's got a little puppy following her around night and day. He wears her out, I can tell. But she still loves him, even after a week of the non-stop following. He's helping her grow up a little more each day.

She wanted this puppy. She did the research and printed out pictures. She lobbied hard for him. She begged for a Papillion and showed us movies on You Tube to prove how adorable, smart and sweet these puppies are. She could barely believe it when we said yes, and drove out to the country to get him last Sunday.

When we walked in to that little house in Redmond filled with the menagerie of dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, birds and chickens, she sat down on the couch and welcomed that little dog into her open arms. He licked her face, wiggled around, wagged his tail and curled up into her lap for a nap. She was smitten.

He loves us all equally, I tell the other kids; he just follows her because she's the oldest child, and he follows dad because he's the top dog, I say. It's his instinct, it's a pack thing. It doesn't mean he doesn't love us. Because he does, he really does.

But there's something about those first moments between mommy types and their babies that can't be explained. There's something so sweet about being wanted and needed so desperately by an innocent little creature who adores you, and something so delightful about knowing you can make them smile or wag their tails. And when you do, you're surprised by the joy that bubbles up from inside your own self.

That's why I had two more babies after the first one, after all. And why I would have had even more if my husband hadn't said no, we were too old for this kind of thing, and he needed to start sleeping again.

He did let me get a big dog 7 years ago, when I started lobbying for another baby. I promised I'd do all the work and take care of her. He knew he'd end up being him doing it all, eventually.

He knew he'd end up training this new puppy too, and that by saying yes to his daughter, he was committing himself to another 15 years of taking care of one more creature who so desperately needs him. But he loves that girl so much, he'll do what he can to make her happy.

Because it's still all about her, and the other two, and always has been, since the minute they were born.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Goodbye Miss Jen

Jen got married. You can go to her blog to see her new husband: but I thought you might enjoy this little picture of the Princess Bride. Here she is, on the night before her big day. Congratulations, Jen and Scott!