November 29, 2005 ~ Fierce, Unrelenting, Wildly Protective Love
Nine months with no illnesses whatsoever, but here I am days from my due date and I've come down with a cold all of a sudden. I was going to go to work anyway, for it is really just more of an annoyance than a hindrance, but then realized, "If I go into labor tonight having not tried to sleep this off, I will really regret it." Please, cold, please clear up before I go into labor...
I'm trying to enjoy this last chance to simply take care of myself and pamper myself while sick, because I know it's going to be years and years before I can do this again. Mommies aren't allowed to be sick. This'll be my last illness with only myself to take care of.
Of course, then Monty threw up on the dog bed, and Rose needed to go out to pee, and then Monty threw up again, thus I had to do two loads of laundry... So scratch that. My last chance for no responsibilities but taking care of myself ended long ago, I fear.
The dogs really have been great preparation for a having a child. There are the obvious ways... The month of twenty-four-hour constant care that Monty required when we first got him and all of the worry and heart wrenching decisions and setbacks his injury brought with it. The slow destruction of our home as we had known it by a puppy who loves to chew on anything and everything and an unbathable dog who couldn't help how bad he smelled. The sleepless nights with a very sick dog. And the messes, oh the messes. The vomit and the diarrhea and the smelly urine and the poor, poor rugs... The getting into things (like chocolate cakes...) that are very, very bad for them and the panic and worry that ensues. The impossibility of figuring out what is wrong with a creature who can't just tell you, can only cry or act a little off. The house-training. The unexpected expenses.
But those things are obvious. They took a ton of hard work, but, slowly, most of those challenges have gotten better, have settled into manageable, cope-able patterns. (As the challenges of taking care of a newborn will too).
No. What really hits me most? The love. The overwhelming love and protectiveness. Monty and Rose are family. It shows itself in the smallest things. Starting awake in the middle of the night and, first thing, reaching out to make sure they are still breathing. (I still do this with Morgan, too...). That red surge of protectiveness that wells up immediately if I feel that they are being threatened in any way. It's knowing that they don't have anything but me and Morgan between their innocence and the harsh world. It's that incredible trust that they have placed in me as their alpha that I'm still not sure I deserve.
But mostly, it's the waking suddenly in the night and immediately making sure that they are breathing. It's that wailing grief that boils beneath the surface that would break through and seize me in a nightmare windstorm were anything to happen to them. Fierce, unrelenting, wildly protective love.
And discipline. The other day, Morgan was preparing "dinner chicken" the nightly ritual that sends both Monty and Rose into excited ecstasy in their anticipation of it. I came around the corner and found Rose peeing on the living room floor. It had been ages since she had had an indoor accident, and my heart immediately sank. "NO!" I growled, taking her by the collar and lecturing her, Alpha fashion. And I held her while Monty ate his dinner chicken in front of her, and she had none. The worst punishment in the world, in Rose's eyes. Morgan sternly led her outside to have her pee where she is supposed to, give her a chance to redeem herself. And then, only then, did the gruffness fall from my face and voice, I sank down on the couch, and I cried.
It was the contrast between her joyful ecstasy of anticipation and the horrible completely depressed disappointment when she realized she would not be having her dinner. Joy squashed and killed, turning to frantic desperation and disappointment instead. And the necessity for Morgan and I to do that. We can't just let her pee on the floor. She has to learn. But oh how awful a feeling it is to be the alpha, the one who must squash joy and turn it into sadness, a lesson not soon forgotten. How hard a thing it is to be a parent, with that weight of lessons taught hanging on your shoulders. You want to see only joy in their eyes--your heart swells when you see it--yet at certain times you cannot permit it, you must take it away.
She came back in, Morgan praising her excessively, for she had peed where she was supposed to. Sensing that she was back in her alpha's good favors, she raced into the kitchen, tail wagging furiously, grin on her face, hope and expectation back in her eyes. Morgan fed her and all was well. But that moment, after the discipline, crying on the couch for having to watch the joy fade from her eyes... That was the moment that my memory grasped on, thinking, "This is only going to get harder."
And it's all because of that fierce, unrelenting, wildly protective love.