Because Dog: The Cat Person’s Guide to Mentally Preparing for a Dog in 79 Easy Steps

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Step 1:  There is no way to mentally prepare yourself for a dog, especially if you’re a cat person, and even if you are already a parent of humans.  The End.

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Ok, just kidding.  Here are the steps that don’t actually work to prepare you for anything but you could read them anyway if you want: 

Step 1:  Be a cat person for 40 years.

Step 2:  Realize that life is short.  Boys and husband have begged for years, so let them have a dog.

Step 3:  Regret this decision immediately.  

Step 4:  Remember step 2.  

Step 5:  Repeat steps 2 and 3 multiple times.

Step 6:  Do not give local shelter your first born child.  WTH is that all about?  We have three healthy boys and three healthy cats!  I’m pretty sure we know how to take care of living things.  No one did a home visit before we left the hospital– “We’re sorry, your house does not yet have socket protectors or a baby gate, you cannot bring your child home.  Also, we need to call three people who know you and also have children to see if you will be fit parents, as well as a pediatrician who will release all of your other children’s medical records to us.  If these do not meet our standards, we will give your child to someone else.”  That place was MENTAL.  

Step 7:  Do not reinvent the wheel–go back to the wonderful shelter where you rescued your kitties.  

Step 8:  Visit several times over several weeks.  Become discouraged.  Repeat steps 2 and 3.

Step 9:  On the 5th visit,  decide to give a dog a trial run at home with the shelter’s “Pajama Party” program.  Watch the family fall in love over the weekend, and maybe do the same (but don’t tell anyone).  

Step 10:  Decide to keep the dog.

Step 11:   Panic.  Repeat step 2.   Panic.  And so on, indefinitely.

Step 12:  Become more broke than you already were because boys/kids.

Steps  13, 14, 15, 16 and 17:  Spend 95% of your time cleaning up pee and poop in the house, spend 95% of your time cleaning up poop outside,  spend 95% of your time washing dog-smell bedding,  spend 95% of your time saying “Good Girl!” (Freaking exhausting for this cat-person who believes in intrinsic motivation. Do you really need that much praise?  I mean, I like validation, but can’t I just remind her once in a while? And does she really need to follow me around all of the time?  Yes, I like you too, now stop needing me constantly.  Geezus, it’s like an insecure boyfriend who keeps asking if you’re mad at him), spend 95% of your time saying “Oh my God!! Drop it!  What the hell are you doing?! Where’s the dog?! Get down! NO! Leave it!! Don’t eat that!! DOG!!! And, OH MY GOD THAT IS DISGUSTING!!!!”

Step 18:  Nearly have an anxiety attack because holy crap what have you gotten yourself into and how are you supposed to function in life if this thing is causing turmoil all over the place and the poor kitties are scared to death and you have no time to even think let alone sit down.

Step 19:  Watch it get a little easier every few days.

Step 20:  Watch yourself melt when the dog shows you unconditional love and affection. (Deny it if mentioned.)  Realize that she really needed us.

Step 21:  Watch your boys smile, laugh, relax, and be comforted and understood by this difficult and adoring creature who has just thrown a giant wrench in your life. 

Step 22:  Feel completely overwhelmed and want to run away because boys AND dog.

Steps 23-76:  WINE

Step 77:  Watch your husband light up every day and brim with emotion because he has wanted a dog his entire life.  

Step 78:  Allow your ever-shifting standards to sway, step away and look at yourself standing in the center of the storm, and hang on for the ride.  

Step 79:  Remind yourself that change is the only constant–my ever-present undercurrent of consciousness.  Change is the only constant.  And man, it sure makes my heart happy to see my family smile.  Also wine.

 

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Zen Cheerios

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I wonder, if someone filmed me throughout my day, would it look like other mothers’ days? I wish I could SHOW you what it’s like.  I know we aren’t totally normal, but are we that different?

This morning, I managed to get everyone to the van with enough time to squeeze them to school mostly on time. I sent them all out to the van, came out, and of course no one was actually in the van.  That would be too simple. They were all wandering around outside.  Before I could say anything about why the eff they weren’t buckled in and ready to roll, Tuna announced that Binker had to poop.  Me: “Then why aren’t you inside pooping??!!”

So he slowwwwly walks to the door, Tuna asks where Binker’s backpack is (because that’s relevant at that moment), and Binker rambles up the steps to the house.  I tell him to “HURRRRYYYY UUUUP!!!” Seriously, how does it take three minutes to walk inside and sit on the toilet?

So the rest of us are waiting in the driveway….waiting….waiting….I check on him a couple of times…………..He is the world’s slowest pooper. He took at least 87 minutes just wiping. And we’re officially late.  We pull out of the driveway at 8:20–exactly when we should be arriving at school. I should start recording the number of times we’ve been late because of poop.

Before all of that, my house wasn’t the vision of three angel children getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, putting on shoes, and going to the van. That’s ALL THEY HAVE TO DO.  Those simple steps.  That’s IT.  I have seven million things to do.  They have FIVE things to do.  Why in God’s great Universe do they not understand, after years of school mornings, this simplicity?! I have charts, timers for when it’s time to get shoes on, timers for when it’s time to go out the door, I even remind them every step of the way while I’m doing my stuff (making lunches, sucking down coffee, putting out fires…). They can’t find the right socks, they are fighting with each other, they are playing with Legos still with bare feet…and this morning Binker was constantly whining about how he didn’t feel well enough to go to school–over and over and over he whined at me while I was trying to think!  Whined at me while I sprayed him with Mucinex and shoved Tylenol down him–You’re going. to. school. damnit! (He was totally fine.)  It’s SO hard to just THINK when three little boys need a million things–things that they don’t even need–right NOW.

The hardest part is keeping my cool.  I have challenged myself to keep it cool for four days in a row.  So far this week (it’s Tuesday) I’ve reset my challenge twice.  So much for that.  How about three?

Then Squishy and I have our day doing this and that (Today. Other days are crazier), going here and there, accomplishing things, playing…and then it’s time for pick-up. Armor on. Enter whiny tired Squishy after the day and the playground, talky talky talky Binker, grumpy hangry Tuna…all talking and whining and fighting with each other over the stupidest shit in the Universe, all at the same time.  It’s great fun. Not headache-inducing at all.  We get home and Squishy has a three hour long meltdown about Angry Birds, Binker gets emotional about his old bed that we sold, and Tuna is about to pass out because he couldn’t sleep last night. I really don’t know how I managed to feed and bathe them (help from Latefordinner).  Falling asleep didn’t take long, thank all of the Gods of this great Universe for that.

So, with three angels slumbering,  I sat down at my computer to do my homework, and realized that this blegh post was in order.  Seriously. Because there has to be another parent out there who deals with the intensity, who deals with the morning rush, who is late because of poop. It’s a major challenge for me–to keep my cool when poop makes us late.  To keep my cool when Binker is on the top bunk with Legos when he should be putting shoes on.  To keep my cool when the cat gets on the table and eats Squishy’s cereal. To keep my cool when Tuna wants to discuss the meaning of life before coffee–every single day.

Your lessons will continue to present themselves until you learn them.  These effed up days are not about my kids learning how to get ready on time (well, they sort of are, but not completely).  These days are about ME learning how to find that center of the cyclone while lateness and distractions and poop are happening around me daily before coffee. I have three days left this week to rise to my own challenge of keeping my cool.  I really hope I don’t have to reset again tomorrow.  This is a tough one, because I think that these smart boys should just get it.

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I have memories of sitting on the heater vent in the winter mornings, my mom throwing my clothes at me, telling me very nicely to get dressed. Man, I don’t remember her yelling at me like I do at my boys. I remember watching the last remaining cheerios in my bowl move toward each other, making shapes out of three or four circles together. I would make a ripple in the milk, and they’d re-form into new shapes–faces, animals, boats…  It was like cloud-watching in a bowl.  I wasn’t thinking about the clock. I had no concept of time or school bells. I was cold first, then having a warmer zen moment with my cheerios. I am constantly disrupting my kids’ zen moments with these stupid deadlines.  I tell them “I didn’t invent the clock.  We all just have to follow it if we want to succeed in this world.”  How does a little dreamer child even come to understand that?  The kids need to learn, yes, and the adults need to REMEMBER. We are all born dreamers, the clock is man-made. Maybe I’ll meet them in the middle–they will learn the clock, and I will re-learn zen cheerios.  I should at least try, and probably harder than they do.

Maybe each household’s morning looks different, but these kids are probably pretty similar. If you struggle with your routine, I hope you can try with me, to not be quite so normal. I hope that some of us can remember that what some consider “different”, is actually closer to where we began–little cloud-watchers outside of time.

Man, I hope I remember that tomorrow morning when I have to get them out the door again.  We can look at clouds on the way.

There is no busy

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I haven’t had many bleghy moments lately.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been ridiculously busy–not my favorite way to be, but how do you manage the lives of five people without being ridiculously busy?  I might need a personal assistant when all three are involved in activities.  Good thing they are available for people who can only pay them ten bucks a month.

Ridiculously busy is not my natural state.  I start to forget things, and do things like leave my debit card in my pants, rather than my wallet, and think I’ve lost it and can’t even find the pants I was wearing because I actually put them back in the drawer.  I also back into curbs (in my defense, I was late, the curb was invisible, and I am secretly trying to wreck the Storm Trooper anyway).

But I once read this facebook meme (which I pronounce “may may” because it’s more fun that way) that said  “Stop the glorification of busy.”  I love that, believe it to my core, and yet am still so very busy.  My creativity lovvves to NOT be busy.  The summer was a success, in my opinion, because I did not plan much at all for most of the summer.  We did just about nothing, minus our super-awesome-action-packed-adventure as the summer’s finale.  Our summer was the equivalent of a lame-o fireworks display with a surprise  FANTASTIC finale.  But why is lazy and unscheduled “lame-o”?  It wasn’t.  We slept in, played outside, ate some food, went a few places…and the kids were happy.  Why is slow considered boring?

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Slow is beautiful.  Simplification is beautiful.  In this life we’re in–which is not in a hut on a tropical island where we wake slowly and go for a dip in the morning, but rather immersed in the American midwest among minivans and Starbucks and travel mugs and yoga pants–slow means only choosing two activities versus all seven Tuna is interested in, and only one for the little ones.  Slow means setting timers on screen time and forcing them to actually play with their toys, or each other.  The definition of busy has been modified.  Slow means eating together as a family at least three times a week, rather than every night.  Just as my standards of cleanliness have changed, so have my standards of busy.  For alone time, I can get now get by on a trip to Target without kids every other week. (Exaggeration there–I totally need my workout classes with the free childcare.)

During the summer, I had my bleghy moments because my mind slowed down enough to see them in my day to day. Like the Matrix, I was able to manipulate time and space to see the bleghs in between. There is no spoon in the summertime.  Now all I see are spoons, and suddenly, and all freaking shiny.  Perhaps the key to stopping that glorification is to see those moments even during the busiest times.  Ideally, we may be jetting from one busy to the next busy, and still see the space in between breaths.  I think that that’s what it means to stop the glorification of busy–see the space between, no matter how fast you’re moving.  Deep breaths, and you may be slow whenever you wish, no matter what’s going on around you.

My favorite from Thich Naht Hahn’s “Peace is Every Step” is:  “breathing in, I relax my body. breathing out, I smile.”   

With this, there is no busy.

Fire and Empathy

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Latefordinner goes to job 2 on Sunday afternoons until the evening. Also, the neighbor kid who is NOT COMPATIBLE with my kids comes to his grandparents next door every weekend. They don’t know what “not compatible” means, only that they’re kids and neighbors and that means they should “play”. Their play is mostly fighting, because they exclude Binker. He tries to play with the big kids, but he is just four, and not quite there yet. I do my best to stop him, but he gets really pissed off and even offended when I try to create activities with me and Squishy that are separate from them. So short story long, I spend Sundays putting out fires between asshole neighbor kid and my boys. I send that kid home at least four times a weekend. I actually (sort of) slammed the door in his face when he rang the doorbell during dinner. I am that bitch neighbor mom who doesn’t let my kids in his house because they smoke inside and he can’t share his skittles with my kids at 9:30 a.m. (WTF?!). We ARE building a fence. Boundaries, man. It’s time.

There was a short explosive period of time today that I need to talk about. I had called the boys in for dinner (early, just to get rid of that kid). I had nuggets and fries in the oven (Don’t judge. We also had brocoli, ok?) Tuna was playing the piano, which is awesome, except he started to freak out about forgetting a song from the winter and couldn’t find the music and needed me RIGHT THEN to help him find it and THEN after I found it he needed help reading the music because the notes were NOT RIGHT.

At the same moment, Binker yells that he needs Squishy out of the bathroom where he is pooping. I am ready to talk about how we need to show the baby how we go potty, etc. when I find this scene: Squishy is sitting in a puddle of urine because apparently Binker did tuck but, the pee came out between the bowl and the seat. Squishy is sitting and splashing in Lake Binker #247. I strip and wash both of them, and the floor (I made him wash the stool, for those of you who tell me to make him clean it), and the oven timer goes off. I leave both babies naked in the bathroom, tell Binker to flush and wash hands, and go to the kitchen. As I take out the nuggets, four of them fall to the bottom of the oven and one catches on fire.

Seriously?

Tuna is still playing the piano loudly throughout this scene.

Naked Squishy comes running into the kitchen. I manage to get the tongs out of the drawer and beat the nugget fire out with one hand while holding the baby back from the oven with the other. (No joke, I did that. I was a ninja.) With the fire out and oven still open, I grab him and secure him behind gate number 1, which keeps him in the living room. Back to the kitchen, I fish out the other nuggets, and Binker starts yelling “MOMMY! I NEED CLOTHES!” over and over and over. Meanwhile, Tuna is still asking for help with his music, then figures it out (phew!)

Finally, I manage to get us all to the table with hot food and cold water. Tuna is the only one with clothes on.
Then he says, “Why do I feel like I want to cry right now?”
And I stop everything, look at him, and say, “Well, I think you are feeling me. I am feeling very frustrated right now. That is called Empathy–when you feel someone else’s feelings.”

I took a big breath, and realized what a unit we are, even when everyone is flailing. We are seemingly out of control sometimes, and the need for me to be in multiple places at once is overwhelming. I did feel like crying. But, our connection as a family is growing as they grow, and my boy showed such emotional maturity tonight. I am so very proud of him.  I have greater hope that our family bond will outweigh the fighting.

My sensitive boy then said, “Well, I love you, and you’re the best mom ever, and I hope that makes you feel better.”

And it did.

 

 

I realized a few things tonight:
1. I hate Sundays.
2. In order to not hate Sundays, I have to take the boys on excursions from now on to keep us busy.
3. The circus monkeys that drive me crazy also bring me peace.
4. My Sunday cyclone started with flaming nuggets, and my baby’s words were the center of the storm.
5. Never underestimate the power of your words (something I have been teaching him for a long time, and he re-taught me tonight)
6. Never underestimate the power of a child’s awareness.