It has only been a month since Chelsea died. Thankfully the girls have been home, making the house less lonely. But there are times that I still burst into tears at the dumbest things – a peanut butter sandwich crust that I had to throw away because she wasn’t there to eat it. I miss her. The girls miss her. DW misses her.
However, the girls and I were ready to start talking about a new baby more than a week ago. DW, well, not so much.
“Okay, so if not now, when? When might be a good time to start thinking about adding to our family?” I asked, thinking maybe it was just too soon for him.
I was dumbfounded, “What? Seriously, when?”
“Seriously, not at all,” he said. “I don’t think we walked Chelsea enough.”
End of discussion.
This is where as a stay-at-home mom I really struggle. I don’t bring in the paycheck, so I feel like a haven’t “earned” a say sometimes. I let it go, but the kids kept asking me, “When? When?” A few more times I tried to broach the subject with DW but was shut down with the same response. It pained me greatly to think that the whole decision to have another dog was resting on the fact that Chelsea was not walked enough. I can’t argue that point with him, honestly. We are an active family but in sports and music. It is not a regular practice for us to go for a walk. It should be and we are trying to make that a priority this summer just for our own cohesion and health. But there were so many other ways that we showed love to our four-legged family member. She lived a happy and comfortable life – daily walks or not. There really had to be more to this than what was being communicated. Guilt? Grief?
Monday night The Tortoise had soccer try-outs. While sitting on the sidelines, I noticed a beautiful brindle puppy being carried by a sweet little girl. The pup’s name was Lucy. The Hare was with me and noticed her right away too. As we sat there, we couldn’t help but over hear that this puppy needed a home. My heart skipped a beat, just a little. Of course I had to go over and see her in person. Touch and nuzzle her – smell her puppy breath and let my face be kissed by that baby tongue. Yes, I know, it was as dumb a decision as sitting in an ant mound smeared in grape jelly. The owner and I talked for a few minutes, the other soccer moms kept egging me on to take her home. But she was going to be big – a Coon Hound, Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, Retriever mix. The Hare started begging me to call DW and see what he thought.
I knew what he thought.
But I called anyway.
“Hi sweetie, you got a minute?”
“Sure, how’s the try-outs going?”
“Ummm, good, I think.” I hadn’t really been paying attention.
“What’s wrong? Everything okay?”
“Well, yes. But there’s this puppy here and…”
“Do what you want.”
I really hate that kind of answer. It feels like a trap.
“But what would happen if I bring home a new puppy tonight?”
“I won’t divorce you, if that’s what you’re asking.”
I wasn’t laughing. It was clear that this was an emotionally charged situation and that I shouldn’t make any decisions based on this gentle face staring up at me. The man was very nice and gave me all of his contact information. I told him I needed to sleep on it.
The Tortoise made the team as a goalie and we all went home. DW walked through the door about an hour after we did, put his bag down and stood in the middle of the kitchen in silence. He waited for me to speak first, I think, but I just floated around the kitchen getting his dinner together.
“Where’s the dog?” he finally asked.
As I scooted past him to the dinner table, he grabbed my arm, looked me in the face and said, “Are you mad at me?”
There was no way to contain myself. The tears welled up and my voice started quivering immediately.
“No, ” I answered, “I’m not mad at you. I’m just sad that you really don’t think we should bring another life into this house.”
“That’s the point, Em,” he said, hugging me tight. “It is a life we would be bringing into this house. This is as big a decision to me as having another baby.”
I jumped back. Now I was crying hard. The word “baby” was piercing and painful.
“Exactly!” I shouted, “and you made that decision too! I wanted another baby and you said no and now I’m too old to have another baby and now you’re telling me I can’t even have a puppy!”
And there it was, the crux of my depression. I hadn’t moved on from wanting another child and Chelsea had become my last baby at home once the kids were in school full-time. She was the last one left I felt still needed me and now she was gone. I was going through the baby blues. DW heard me loud and clear. He could see my brokeness and his shoulders lowered, his arms reached out to me. His eyes seemed a little misty.
“I’m sorry, ” he whispered.
Now the girls and I are talking about puppies openly. I’m almost giddy at the choices. I did call the soccer dad back and let him know that we are not interested in his puppy because we have decided on a small lap dog. I’ve never had a small dog. My childhood dogs were a Springer Spaniel and a yellow Labrador Retriever. Then of course, Chelsea was a Golden Retriever. There is so much conflicting information out there about mixed breeds too, that it can be overwhelming but I think we have narrowed it down to a Maltese Shih Tzu mix. There is a wonderful couple that own a small dog salon near us that also work with breeders in Michigan, kind of like a puppy broker I guess. They have a very good reputation in the area and gave me an hour of their undivided time yesterday. The Hare and I were thoroughly impressed with the amount of information we got and enjoyed meeting the owners’ dogs as well. In fact, the meeting went so well, that they are bringing a little girl Maltese mix to the shop by the end of the month for us to meet.
And where is DW in all of this now? Helping us pick out a name.