Like most little kids, I changed what I wanted to be when I grew up at least every other day. I know firefighter lasted a while, and veterinarian lasted through middle school all the way until I hit chemistry in college. The constant though was mommihood. I never even considered not having kids. Even when I was going through maudlin phases, despairing of ever finding A Man, I had thoughts of sperm banks. In other words, it was important to me.
So when I got my dog, Hobbes, in 2000, let's say I was a little ridiculous with him. I never made it to Paris Hilton dog in the purse status, but I was close. This did not get any better when John and I started dating and lavished the same attention on the dog he bought, Snickelfritz. Then in 2005, my then stepmother made an impulsive purchase of a puppy for my seven-year-old brother. Cosmo, the yorkiepoo, spent about seven months in my father's home before he begged us to take him. By he, I mean the dog. Seriously, we visited one Sunday, and Cosmo tried to follow us out to the car. This pretty much sums up the care he was getting at home. So now we had three dogs, and since we were having trouble conceiving, he was added to the furry children substitutes. We dealt with a lot of dominance issues with three male dogs (Don't let anyone ever tell you fixing them changes that.), but just like with real children, we dealt with it.
Then the real kids showed up. And I became a stay at home mom for actual humans.
Two kids plus three dogs can be wearing. The dominance issues meant lots of barking that naturally led to interrupted naps. There was territory marking which became really inconvenient when my son learned to crawl. And while I know Cesar would come in and explain everything I was doing wrong, my time for dog training was limited.
As I pointed out, the purchaser of Cosmo is no longer married to my father, and he is living with a woman who has drastically changed the atmosphere of the household to the point that I started to consider sending Cosmo back to his original home.
That was a really hard thing to do. He was our dog now, mostly, though he still really loved my brother. Plus, I was starting to realize he really didn't like being a member of a pack. Yet the responsibility I felt for the little guy made me only thinking these things for a long time. Then the peeing, the barking, the jumping on the baby just got too much one day.
Cosmo is back with my dad. He's happy. We're happy. They're happy.
I still feel responsible and guilty. I couldn't do it all. I should be able to. Why do we seem to be hardwired to think we should do it all? Why should a solution that is working for everyone leave me with guilt?
I don't have the answers to those questions. Until I find them, I am just trying to breath deeply when the guilt pangs start and remember how much easier things are now. Then I text my little brother to ask about the dog.