Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Little on the Dog, on Motherhood & Life

So these girls can't really take their eyes off Rosie and I have to share just a couple scenes. According to the SPCA, she is 1 year and 4 months and is big as she is going to get, and I love that she still has a puppy look to her without the "puppyness."

The girls are soooo happy! Hearing Molly bellow out "bye-by Roheee" and Anna Cate play with her like they are made for each other is so fun to watch!

Rosie is settling in to her new life pretty well, too. She has managed to poop on Molly's white shag rug and pee on Anna Cate's pink one, but I still love her. 

Last night, after the girls went to bed, BJ said, "you know what I've thought about already -- when these girls have to say goodbye to her. Anna Cate will be a teenager and she will remember this day." Stunned, I said, "I thought the same thing already."  I went down emotional memory lane and I distinctly remember the night when Daisy died; I was 12 years old. It hurt so much, I was sick. I remember the thought that loving others comes with a lot of pain, but thought it was worth it.  I'm an old soul, always have been.  (Several years later, when I got the call that Duke was going to be put down, my brother was in Iraq so when my mother called me in hysterical tears, I thought it was Douglas so Duke's old life ending seemed like a relief to the alternative I'd feared.)

Daisy's death was my first glimpse of loss but for over twenty years, I've chosen the joy, letting myself (and my daughters) risk the pain and the poop. On this little journey of our family, I'm reminded how love and these life lessons outshine the pain... even in the face of inevitability.

I love this part of motherhood, the real stuff and the ways that both motherhood and love empower me in similar ways.  I've read that quote before about when you have children, you choose to have your heart walk in another's body and how true that is.  This morning in church, I embraced a mother for whom I pray daily in the grief of losing her son to cancer. (You can learn more about him here).  When we first walked in, scurrying to our pew (late because we had the first Rosie poop-on-the-white-rug incident this morning), this grieving mother flashed a genuine smile at Anna Cate.  After the service, she told me it made her happy to see young children, even to hear the hymnal drop (the awkward way it always plops in the most silent parts of a service), and to think about when her children were young.  Her genuine smile and this interaction embodied, in the most raw way, this real life lesson I'm talking about.  To be clear, I'm not talking about losing a dog.  I'm talking about loving our children.   In her smile and in her tears, I saw how joy and love trump.  

"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Our new girl....Rosie

I used to be  a dog person, and then I wasn't so I wasn't all together excited about the nearing of the timeline marker from my promise, "When Molly is 2, we'll get a dog."   My girls' day-care-provider and my good friend, Diana, has dogs and I felt like maybe having a dog there during the day was enough, but every time we were around dogs, it became painfully clear how much these girls (and their Daddy) wanted a dog.  In the conversations about it, BJ said once to me in response to my telling him my plate was full and I could not handle one more {damn} thing that "I don't see how your plate is that full. I help out a lot."

That is true, he is amazing and the most motherly, wifely dad/husband ever, but I must have been born with a figurative salad plate because the plate I was given was full. It sort of reminds me of when I was ready for a second baby and BJ wasn't and I convinced him that if we wait until we are ready, that might never happen and I can't imagine life without a second child. I felt our family was incomplete, and with Molly's birth we became a family. In the same vein, BJ kept telling me he didn't imagine raising a family without a dog; I said I didn't imagine raising kids in a home with TV or working outside the home!  You get the point --- a  lot of yah-yahing back and forth. I digress: point is my family was ready for a dog; I was NOT!!!

Last week, we went to the SPCA (free entertainment on a Saturday morning), and my eyes locked with hers.  BJ and the girls walked on and she just kept looking at me, wagging her tail. I even squatted down and looked in her eyes and asked her if she would destroy my house, and I think she said no.

I led them back to her crate, then we played in a room  and then filled out an application.  I kept thinking "this girl is perfect for us; I don't want any other dog but HER!"

Long story made short: we have a dog and I love her just as much as the rest of them (although I want to keep this pleasure to myelf so I can "milk" this as much as I can -- you know the "salad plate full" working-mom arguement). Tuesday, we found out our application was accepted on Valentine's Day so Anna Cate changed her name from Trinity to Rosebud Rosalina, rose themed for Valentine's Day.

Ladies, gentlemen and posterity, I introduce "Rosie" on her adoption day as we welcome her to our home.

Yes, we met our match.

Waiting on the paper work gave us the chance to revisit the "visit room" and remind us of how why we chose her.

She got her microchip, we made an appointment for getting her spayed (If you need any convincing about the moral and economic reasons to go through the SPCA, ask me. I'm a fan!)

We walked her out to her new life.

Her new life, and ours.

She is good to all of us; Molly and she like kissing each other. Anna Cate and Rosie play. BJ loves her presence. I can tell she is my girl because I don't think pictures do her cuteness justice.

Today, I'm a dog person again.  I've got a little tear in my eye thinking about Daisy and Duke, dogs of my childhood, and how much I loved them, how they were a part of my family. Rosie has reminded me of why I want the same for my girls.  Funny how life works out.  Well, not really funny as much as sweet and special and grand. Prolific.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole.  -- Roger Caras

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pop-Ups of Love

Mothers are instinctive philosophers.  - Harriet Beecher Stowe 

On the eve before this holiday devoted to the saint of love, I can't help but reflect on the love I'm experiencing as a result of being a mother. So many vignettes of pure joy are wrapped up in my bond with these girls, each uniquely crafted as my spirit connects with hers in the ways we relate, the ways I try to teach, and more often the ways I'm learning to be more human, to love more purely.

I find myself fascinated by these relationships with Anna Cate and Molly in their newness to me, but am also comfoted to be connected to humanity by this primodial experience of motherhood.  I know I'm but a spec of humanity experiencing this maternal adoration for the zillionith time, yet I'm excited with its freshness to me in the form of my dear girl's spirits, their faces, their souls.

Anna Cate is a people pleaser and finds such satisfaction in pleasing me whether it be cleaning up after dinner, impeccably organzing the play room from top to bottom or a Saturday morning snuggle. Molly is not exactly externally motivated, but experiencing her love is as satisfying. Our quality time is in the evening is when I "rock" her, which isn't really rocking at all as she is not the cuddler her sistser is, but rather our visit in the rocking chair.  She calls it rocking, but it is really singing, giggling and reading. Last night, she gave me a "good hug," and as we held each other arms-in-arms, we swayed face-to face and she grunted and giggled in a toddler rhythmic symphony of sweet sounds. After a deep breath of release, she said ahhhmen.  Amen, indeed my sweet girl.

This bedtime routine inspires me in more ways than one. Thankfully, all four of us enjoy our story time.  Yesterday, our friend Marian shared this fabulous pop-up book, Brava Strega Nona, which tells of the secrets of a Grandma who knew all about people, healing them, helping them. 

Her secrets:
 Family, A magical life begins with Family.

Eating together brings joy.

Remember your friends and they will remember you.

(This is a picture of Anna Cate with Marian, whom she calls Mum Mum.  As we began reading the book last night, she said, "is this story about Mum Mum?" I said, it sounds like it could be and was touched by her emotional perception about the goodness in the character in the story and in her life.)

Patience is not always easy.

(Molly is in the "I do it" phase. Everything from putting on her diaper, fastening her car seat, putting on her shoes and reading her own books.  It takes patience.)

The most important celebration is life itself.

The ingredient segreto- secret ingredient. Always share your love and it bring you a magical life.

Just as this intricately crafted pop up book awes the reader of this sweet story about a woman who knew the secret to life, times with family and friends pop out at me with exquisite reminders of beauty, grace and love.  My children's precious spirits and our family's moments of glory even in the routine give me much to celebrate on the feast of Saint Valentine. 

"Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition." -Alexander Smith