This is an angry post. This is a frustrated post. This is a defensive post. This is a sad post. This is a post with a world of hurt under the surface. No one should take this post personally. That sort of shit really bugs me. I don't have the energy to tread lightly today.
This is a human post.
This is also a memorial for a dog.
It didn't start out well; Mondays almost never do other than this week I didn't have to get up at 5:30 and drive 3 hours in some of the most horrific traffic ever to get to work which is what the Tech Corridor in Fairfield County has become according to the people who tell us about traffic patterns in the US. THAT I truly appreciated. It got the day off to a pretty good start given the circumstances. There's no point mentioning tired because that's a given state of being (I'm working on working on that, I'm just not sure what it looks like but I think it has something to do with perception. I think.) and I'm not sure there's any point mentioning defensive because that's been there at least close to 27 years but sometimes it's closer to the surface than other times. On Sunday it was a blind rage.
I almost don't want to go into this because it's not the point of the post but if I don't at least offer some explanation I'll be leaving a mac truck swallowing hole in the middle of an eight lane highway. I hear that's distracting.
Child rearing. We're a self-righteous bunch. It's like effing religion around here. My way or the highway and the rest of you are going to hell if you're not doing it my way or at least you're going to eff up your kids beyond belief and I watch as every single sub-species (myself included) collects evidence like Fundamentalist Christians proving the point. At least the Jews and the Mormons to some extent (after their year on walk about) quietly turn away and get back to it. Anyway, Child Rearing. You've got your Radical Unschoolers, your Home Schoolers, your Helicopter Parents, your School of Benign Neglect, your Raised by Nannies, your Daycare by 6 Weeks Because We Must, your Daycare by 6 Weeks at Choice, your Dad at Home, your Mom at Home, your Community Raised (really, that's a Thing), your Part Time, Flex Time Uber Involved Mom and a whole lot more. EVERYBODY has an opinion and like my first accountant was fond of saying, like assholes and they all stink. I can't remember the context exactly but it had something to do with self righteousness blah blah blah.
I'm defensive about choosing to work. I didn't always have to. Hell, I don't have to do what I'm doing now and I could unmake the choices I've made and our lives could look very different. I could also stretch myself a little thinner, eliminate some personal things from my life (I hear, based on the current child psychologists it's the right and apparently only thing to do and if I don't make these choices I'm damaging my daughter for life... blah blah blah) and give Elizabeth a lot more attention (before she becomes an axe murderer or worse, doesn't reach her full potential).
Do you see where I'm going here? I'm not actually making this shit up. Seriously. I am not.
And I have my own judgments. I do. I just try to keep them mostly to myself and I do try to consider the possibility that there are as many ways to raise children as there are possible religions and political beliefs. I'm defensive and angry and apparently enraged. Who knew?
So I wasn't having a good night and I fight to keep my home in a state of equilibrium. Sometimes I want to scream but, like crying sometimes I'm pretty sure I'd never stop. Yes, there are a million articles written out there proving that I'm doing it wrong just like there are a million (OK, not a million, probably a select few but they're in my face or the existence of them is in my face) articles proving that my bi-polar II is crap and so is Cielo's Fibromyalgia.
Fuck off. All of you. For both of us. I'm not giving up my meds and neither is she. I just wish hers worked as well as mine do. It sucks watching her cry pretty consistently. Until you're literally sitting in our bodies and minds experiencing what we're experiencing, please back yourselves off a short cliff. Slowly. We love you, we really do. But...
Anyway, I can't always control what happens in the sanctity of my own home (can any of us? REALLY?!) and this is absolutely my own fault. I don't communicate well enough. I don't have the bandwidth to train my dog the way she ought to be trained. I run out of energy fighting the members of my own household (THANK YOU, CLETUS FOR THE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR THAT CLEARLY COMES FROM MY BAD PARENTING WHICH IS WHY YOU LET THE DOG ON THE COUCH WHERE SHE DOESN'T BELONG AND I HAVE TO UNDO THE INCH SHE GOT AND THE MILE SHE'S TAKING. Thank you.) and that damn dog whisperer has raised the peta people to new levels of frenzy.
The dog is not a person. We'll start there. Not even an extended member of the household until she's earned it. The dog, however, deserves kindness and to be protected from herself.
I'm judged just as harshly by the school of thought that says, give her what she wants even though she pushes the envelope as I am by the people who say, she should respond obediently to the snap of your fingers by the time she's two and you're a bad dog owner since you've failed that (THANK YOU, NUMBAH ONE SON FOR YOUR SCATHING JUDGMENT OF MY LACK OF DOG SKILZ. YOUR JUDGMENT AND YOUR WILLINGNESS TO SPEAK TO ME IN THAT PSEUDO TONE IS CLEARLY A RESULT OF MY BAD PARENTING AND THE FACT THAT YOU WENT TO DAY CARE AT 6 WEEKS).
Yes, I am an abject failure as a mother, employee (I left work at 6 to fulfill my car pool duties and I wasn't done yet - 10 hours wasn't enough yesterday), and a REALLY bad dog owner.
So I got home in a state of exhaustion, mostly emotional, dropped the groceries in the kitchen, please understand it was 8 PM and I had 30 minutes to make dinner and another 30 to spend with my girl... walked into my bedroom and found a lake in the middle of my bed. I stripped back the down comforter, quilt, bed spread, sheets and mattress pad and was once again thankful for keeping the waterproof pad because of the once upon a time cat who used to get mad and pee on my feet in the middle of the night.
I started crying. I'm the coldest person in the household. I had Elizabeth take the blanket off the guest bed and the wool blanket off Cletus's bed and it still wasn't going to be enough without the mattress pad and one more but I don't have one more. Elizabeth offered up one of hers. I cried a little harder.
Terriers are about as vindictive as they come. They have a way of saying fuck you that no other breed I've ever worked with can match. They don't recognize human as alpha. It's an amazing thing. It takes about 5 years before they grow up and I haven't spent the time I should be spending. The best I've been able to do is keep her from getting herself in trouble. I also realized she's crossed the line and gotten up on my bed (never mind emptying her bladder). She knows better about the bed. That ends her out of the crate period for quite awhile. Give a terrier an inch, especially a ratter, once removed from a Jack Russell and they will take about ten miles in the negotiation for dominance. Had I known I wasn't going to need a rat catcher after all, I would never have done this.
I have never been able to make a non-pet dog person understand this.
OK, Jules, here it comes.
I chose to raise and train a farm dog in a suburban neighborhood. His job was to protect the livestock and the family at all cost. At one point he went after a small child, a four year old. I'm not entirely sure why but the theory is that he was teased by the neighborhood kids as they passed our front yard and he was loose behind the invisible fence. The four year old was the son of friends coming to a dinner party. We opened the door and Simon was in the kid's face, no hackles, no growling, but aggressively in his face. The kid turned and ran. Simon chased. The kid became prey. Simon, unfortunately was collarless because he had a hotspot. I screamed for Numbah One Son to help me as I ran after my dog and eventually tackled all 220 pounds of him with my 130. I laid on top of him sobbing. The four year old's father scooped up his son and praised him for running. I glared up and bit my tongue. Wrong move, buddy. I built a fence and locked Simon away from people forever. Simon became less socialized and more aggressive.
Last October Nomans in fit of guilt or to prove me wrong came to the house bringing contractors who came in and out of the house. On the first day only Nomans was in the house and Simon couldn't figure out whether he should eat Nomans or not so Simon lost his mind and covered the floor in St. Bernard slobber and fur. When I got home that night I found a 220 pound dog shivering on the floor of my bedroom and every floor on the upper level crusted with dog fur glued down with slobber. I called Nomans and asked what happened. Nothing. He was happy to see me. How do you know this? He greeted me. Where was his head? Where was his tail? Did he bark? Where did he stand when he greeted you? Did he come forward, did he back away?
(I was wrong. It was in August.)
I don't remember.
I was home when Simon went over the coffee table in one solid leap (it's a big table) toward the large living room window at the contractor on the ladder climbing up to the roof. I used the voice. He stopped in his tracks and the 2x4 slammed me against the wall.
Elizabeth does not have the voice.
I can't stay home for a month to protect the contractors.
I can't lock him in the garage; they'll be working there.
I can't lock him in my bedroom; they'll be climbing past my windows.
They will walk into the house. Someone will knock on the door. Elizabeth will open it.
I have a time bomb.
I have a choice. I called the vet in tears and I believe I took him in that afternoon. I had a few hours and a lot of photographs. He got in the dreaded car with me willingly because he would have followed me into the pits of hell.
It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life and his food and water bowls are still in the up tray in the back corner of the kitchen one year later with his leash and his St. Simon Collar.
Some things I cannot control. In some cases I have made egregious errors and terrible choices. In some cases I've ended up with temperaments that just didn't work.
But mostly I'm just plain enraged at a judgmental world that has decided it's OK to inflict it's beliefs past personal boundaries. A 220 pound St. Bernard IS NOT A PLUSH TOY! A 16 pound Rat Terrier who screams like a cut pig when she doesn't get what she wants is a problem child and we don't give problem children ice cream when they're screaming. Ever. There are a whole lot of other things we can do but that isn't one of them.
I'm responsible for that too for failing to communicate appropriately.
I had a very bad day yesterday. I cranked the heat in the house and slept in sweats. I was perfectly OK. I cried myself to sleep and woke up in one piece.
I made dinner because I had to make dinner. Elizabeth offered. It's just another way to be together.
Oh, this is lovely (I mean this). She couldn't find her stitch kit and had to sew back a ribbon on a pointe shoe. She said,
It's ok. Adapt or perish, Mom. I have dental floss and the large needle. I'm fine. And she took care of her shoe while I cut up vegetables, put together a plum sauce, marinated chicken and then stir fried the whole thing. Dinner was really nice.
That was disjointed. I got it out though and I think I'm OK now.
The thing about the Big Dog you should know. If they'd killed him the hard way it would have been brutal and awful and just unimaginable. As it was it took forever for him to die. Elizabeth and I laid on the floor with him for nearly an hour waiting for it to work. We held him. I held him. In my arms until he was gone. I don't know how many years it's going to take before I stop crying.
I failed my dog. My dog never once failed me.
So now you know.
Lastly, shut up world. Each and every one of you snivel and whine too. I've heard you. I've sympathized with you but for my lack of compassion, because it has happened, I truly apologize. I'm sorry, you didn't deserve it.