When Dave is on the road, life gets more complicated for us. I have a toddler who lives by a schedule of sleep and is loathe to be confined within the 500 square feet of our apartment. I have two dogs who need to go out, to walk, to sniff, to run and always be leaning on some part of my body. Getting everyone everything they need in terms of nourishment, affection and exercise for days on end is no small feat.
The truth is that it’s often easier to play down the difficulty of this task. Because the reality is that it has to be done, there are people who do much bigger things with much more difficult lives, and no one likes to hear me whine. I love the special time I get alone with my girl, with my pups, because I know this time has contributed to the incredible bond I have with all three of them. They all three love Dave dearly, they all three go out of their minds when he returns home, they have a special daddy obsessions. But when they are scared, hurt, upset, sad or out of sorts, they often come to me. The source.
I take my job of caring for these three very seriously. It’s exhausting but fun, tiring but hilarious. It involves a lot of sweating and hoisting and tugging and pulling and, on occasion, swearing. There is a reason why the phrase ‘Damnit, Falcor’ is in my child’s vocabulary. But seriously, is that dog trying to kill me by way of leash-tripping?
I get them all out, all together, a few times a day. With V in the stroller and the dogs on the double leash. With V in the Ergo carrier on my back and the dogs on their own leashes. With V on her own two feet while we walk around the block…one tiny block in 45 very long, very slow minutes.
Sometimes the walk ends with me feeling relieved but satisfied, everyone behaved relatively well, we all made it home, no worse for the wear. Sometimes it ends with me exasperated, everyone pulled me in every direction, no one had a particularly good time and the freshness of the air was mitigated by the dampness of the mood.
But sometimes, just sometimes, it all comes together. Just perfectly. Everyone walks where they should, sits when I ask, listens to my directions. Everyone has a great time, no one cries for chocolate or lunges at a shih tzu or tries to eat rotten tidbits off the sidewalk. We all laugh and run and we take our time going home.
In those moments, during those walks, I really feel like I’ve done it. I’ve parented the shit out of this moment. Not just that I’ve fed us, dressed us and abated our cabin fever, but that I really had fun doing it. That V was so pleased with our adventure. That the dogs feel content. Because as much as I love parenting and dog ownership and all of this family life, sometimes the needs of others feel less like a privilege to bear and more like a burden to carry.
But not this day, not on this walk. On this day, on this walk, we were the happiest foursome in the world. We took our time, looked around and really saw what there is to see, were a team in highest sense of teamwork.
Also, I think this sign is trying to tell me something.