Honesty, Heartache, and Husbands

Sometimes it takes me longer than I like to admit to process things. Thoughts fester a while, eating at me until I feel like my insides are going to burst. I say nothing, but my body language gives me away every time, at least to the one who knows me the best, DW.

I was frustrated with DW for several weeks for making the comments that we didn’t walk Chelsea enough, implying that we weren’t the picture perfect pet owners that I liked to think. His comments felt personal, not general statements about our whole family’s need to re-prioritize and spend more time outside together. It felt like a stab against my parenting ability. So I held a grudge for weeks.

Over that time DW started loosening up about adding another family member and the girls have gotten excited about a puppy. A long list of names sits on the kitchen counter, as each family member gets a vote. The girls and DW have started making jokes about our new pet.

“What do you think about the name Ella, Daddy?”

“My vote is for WOM.”

“WOM? What kind of a name is that?”

“It stands for Waste of Money,” DW says with a grin as all three of them start laughing.

The biggest quip between them is about the dog’s size.

“Look, Dad, we got our puppy new bowls!”

DW looks around the mud-room as if he can’t see what they are pointing at on the floor. Then he pretends to gasp when the girls pick up the tiny 2-cup bowls to show him what they are talking about.

“OK, ” he bellows, “tell me the truth. You aren’t really getting a dog. You’re getting a rat, right?”

So, of course, now her new nick-name is Rat Dog.

However, even though DW had given me the go ahead, it was more of a surrender than a decision. I was feeling resentment about his statements against our abilities as dog owners, but I also felt resentment that he didn’t want what I wanted. Foolishly I expected him to have a change of heart, not just a change of mind. But my eyes were opened this weekend to the truth. My heartache was clouding my perception. This epiphany started Thursday night while we were in bed.

“The Tortoise and The Hare seem to be really excited about getting a puppy, ” DW stated.

“I agree.”

“You seem really happy about getting a puppy, a little guarded, but happy.”

“Yes…yes I am.”

“You know…I like it when all three of my girls are happy. It makes me happy.”

Thus the beginning of my understanding that his heart was indeed mending. But I still felt resentment. Why? He had never said no to another pet. He simply left the decision in my hands, and I had made one. Yet, I still felt like he wasn’t on “my side”.

On Friday, the girls and I went to PetSmart to start buying supplies. The breeder says the puppy should be ready to come home in about a week. Each of the girls picked out a sweet stuffed animal and a toy. We found an adorable bowl, leash and harness. While we were in the food isles, a rep for the premium dog food engaged us in a long conversation about the health benefits of holistic dog food. She was a nice lady, but as soon as she started talking about cancer and how her all natural dog food could help prevent cancer, the only thing I heard was “my Chelsea died of cancer and she didn’t eat this food.” The girls heard that message too because they were adamant that we needed to get a natural dog food. We compromised and bought Nature’s Recipe. Not because it was hugely less expensive, mind you, but because their sales rep hadn’t just upset me.

That evening, before falling asleep, I finished reading a book on house-breaking. (I am a big researcher, if you haven’t figured that out by now. I like manuals, instructions, schedules, etc.) Even though I didn’t need to, I read the section on “Aging Dogs”. It just added more fuel to the fire.

Saturday morning found me alone in the bathroom, the shower running, steam filling the room. Every hair on my body seemed stiff and on guard. Waiting for attack. Waiting to justify myself. DW came in to sneak a few grown-up moments alone. I couldn’t get it together – I couldn’t seem to really be there for him.

“I know it isn’t terribly romantic, but I have something I need to tell you.”

“Ok. You have been a little strange lately. Is everything alright?”

I am so blessed to have this man.
“No! Everything is not alright, ” I started to cry, “I was a terrible dog owner. What if you were right and we aren’t a good dog family. I should have fed her better food, and I wasn’t patient enough when she started having accidents in the house, and I let her eat scraps from the table…” It all came pouring out now. I had never been mad at DW. The resentment was my own guilt that had been building, my own demons I had not worked out – DW had the maturity to say how he was feeling out loud from the beginning. He had been honest about his heartache.

He held me tight and let me cry a little.

“You were a good mommy. Right to the very end. Without question.”

8 thoughts on “Honesty, Heartache, and Husbands

  1. nice story about understanding yourself and those around you.

    But I also see the grief over what you “should” have done for Chelsea. Please, let that go. Yes yes, much easier typed then it ever is to do, but remember you did what you thought was best with the information you had at hand. Would she have lived longer if you had fed her a better food from day one? You can not know that!! It is a shame that the rep said her food can prevent cancer. They don’t know that. I’m sure there are many pets on that food that get cancer!!

    Just as humans can eat healthy and die young and others can eat junk and smoke and drink and live to 100 (George Burns anyone?) genetics play a lot into it. By feeding optimal nutrition, you help the body deal with the stressors in life, but they are not eliminated and by no means are a cure for cancer. All pets die eventually (yes, it is harsh to say that, but it is true) and you have to realize if it wasn’t cancer, it would have been heart disease, diabetes, kidney issues, etc. You would have had to deal with something, as very few pets live long happy healthy lives then just don’t wake up one day.

    Chelsea was well loved, had a great home with people who loved her and a soft place to lay her head. She was so blessed for the life she had (especially considering what happens to so many companion animals in this world) Please don’t mar those memories with manufactured “what if’s”

  2. What I see here is that you were in pain and so was your husband and he processed in his way (the immediate blurting out of what was in his head) and you processed in yours (the more slow and painstaking thinking, feeling and just being with the feeling until you were ready to fully process and let it go). Seems you both handle the situation the way you need to and you also respected each other in the process. Very cool. I found you on She Writes and like your honest blog a lot. I blog with my grown daughters. Maybe you will too when yours are older!

    1. Thanks for the very clear description of our personalities – yes, we are very different people. Thank goodness! I’m glad you found me – SheWrites.com is so neat, although I am still trying to figure out how to best use this resource. I look forward to reading your blog this morning.

  3. ask the people at petsmart about a dog food called Biljack/when i got my new puppy i decided to not buy commercial dog food.after alot of online research relating to dog foods i decided on Biljack.petsmart carries it//.that’s where i buy it..also,don’t forget to get a petsmart discount card.i love petsmart and Biljack dog food.well..the dog eats the food..i don’t.but you know what i mean/.

  4. It may take you longer to process, but you got there in the end. And, in the mean time, you didn’t lash out at your husband or cause a scene in front of your children. Sounds like you are both pretty mature to me!
    It’s nice to read about couples handling their issues in grown-up ways (as I often do on your blog). I work with some people who seem to think that marriage is a constant exercise in one-upmanship.

    1. Thank you so much! I know how lucky DW and I are and think we handle things well. Mature communication is key. We definitely both enjoy a little healthy competetion though – like when we play sports or games together. Certainly when we work out together!

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