A Little Person in a Dog Suit

That is what my aunt would say about dogs ad nauseam.

If that is true then, Hobbes was a grumpy old man who wore his coat all the time because he was always cold. With bat ears.

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When Hobbes made my aunt dognap rescue him from a neglectful situation, it was pretty much his master plan. He knew she would bring him to me, His Person. There was no luck or fate. There was doggy intuition and cunning that overcame every obstacle. As my aunt got to know him, she decided that maybe he wasn’t a good fit for me and my apartment as he had major separation anxiety. The howling was formidable. It was decided he would be better off at my country living mother’s house. Hobbes would hear none of that, and to obtain his goal of going home with His Person, he yanked a leash from my uncle’s hand so that he could tear through the house and into my lap. And thus the prophecy was fulfilled.

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I stopped making fun of people who called themselves Mom and Dad to the dog because this was the first step in making a family of my own. I bought a crate and an anti-barking collar because the howling when I left him was epic. I bought a special dog seat belt. I piled blankets for a dog, who having been born in Texas, abhorred the Mid-Atlantic between September and April. I hid shoes and underwear.

I loved him almost as much as he loved me. I say almost because I do not think humans can love like a dog can, with pure trust and abandon.

When he met John, he decided to love him because I loved him. And because he let him sleep in warm spots like his crotch.

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The same could not be said for the kids. They changed his life too drastically. When I was pregnant, I remember him putting his head on my lap, and then looking up at me incredulously, like he heard what was going on in there, and he couldn’t believe I had let that happen. He did not appreciate vying for my attention, and he knew that on many levels he had been downgraded. But I was still His Person, and his doggy love remained pure. I gave him what I could.

Here is what I think he thought of the situation.

Then the kids turned into petters instead of ear-pullers. They could cuddle. They were warm. They cooed to him (even if he was deaf for the last year or so.) I hope that he felt better.

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And then he didn’t. He stopped eating. He stopped moving. He just stopped.

When we made the vet appointment, we knew. I think John had accepted it more than I had.

The vet found a lump in his abdomen as we suspected she would. Dogs know when it is time. They let us know. They stop being themselves. They let go and accept far sooner than we do.

So we made the decision, and I held him until he was gone. It was the closest I have ever come to to loving him as much as he loved me.

If you don’t count the short-lived hermit crab, this is the first time the kids have had to deal with death. We talked about it a lot, about the possibilities of Heaven, that Hobbes was better off because he wasn’t sick anymore. Yes, everyone dies, but usually not for a very, very long time. Hobbes was very old for a dog.

And even though it has been a month since he passed, the giant-earred void in our lives is still there. Out of the blue, every so often, one of the kids will say, “I miss Hobbes.” I always reply, “So do I.” 10428071_10203918941835159_6118262120554082651_n

 

Fear and Transition

Here is the typical night in the Batzer house. Kids are put to bed between 8:30 and 9 PM. Some time in the wee hours, the kids stumble out of their beds into ours. Most of the time it wouldn’t even wake us up. It was the way everyone seemed to get the most sleep, so it became habit.

I will wait while whoever needs to gets their judging out of the way. (Come on, I don’t care how much we all say we don’t.)

However, the kids aren’t cute, little toddlers anymore. They are cute, big preschoolers, and they take over the bed. Too many nights, recently, John or I (mostly John) would end up sleeping in CJ’s room. So we changed the rules. When they wake up at night, for now, they may come get one of us, and we will help them get back to sleep in their rooms. Eventually, they will have to try it on their own. It’s a transition thing. You can call me a wimpy parent if you want to, but I had enough scary moments “sleeping” alone as a kid, that I can’t go the suck-it-up route.

Leila is adjusting to this pretty well. I can pretty much turn her towards her bed, tuck her in, and she is back asleep. And she is waking up less often.

CJ not so much.

At 12:45 AM last night, he came over and got me and insisted he could not fall asleep in his room. And he proved that until 3 AM. He would doze off for maybe 10 minutes or so before he was back, begging to sleep in our room. I finally laid down with him until he fell asleep around 3, and he managed to sleep until after 4 before he was back. At that point, I was too incoherent to stop him curling up next to me.

Here is were the parenting gets tough, not just by actions, but on an emotion level. Because it is hard for me to blame the kid. I still hate sleeping alone. Even when I was single, I had a dog and cat that slept with me. A big, empty bed is not appealing to me. I toss and turn. An empty house means that I fall asleep with the TV on because my imagination won’t let me sleep otherwise, especially now that the only dog in the house is deaf.

So I understand the kid’s issue. I understand that shadows can look scary and that in the dark a toy speeder bike looks like a rat. I am both impressed and frustrated by his ability to stay in that twilight sleep and not give into exhaustion.

And, yes, I know that this is partially a power play, but really it comes down to mostly fear. A fear that I fully understand.

So somehow we need to find CJ’s version of getting a pet or leaving the TV on. Neither of which will work for him as a four-year-old at the moment. He needs his comfort in the dark, and it needs to not be Mommy or Daddy.

It’s extra hard to make my kid face a fear when I share that fear. It feels slightly hypocritical even as I understand why it is necessary. I mean, most nights I don’t have to deal with it because, hello, John sleeps next to me. CJ just wants the same comfort, and that makes me feel bad even if I understand why he can’t have it.

Eventually, I know we will stumble onto the magic feather that will get CJ sleeping through the night in his own bed. I just hope it is before his parents exist completely of caffeine as we try and help him through this process.

 

Tipsy Lit Prompt – Around the Tea Table

This is my first submission for  Tipsy Lit Prompted. I hope you enjoy.

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“Drink.”

There was the rustle of linen against lace as four demitasse teacups patterned with delicate pink roses and faded green vines were put to lips and the contents of one sip of tea were consumed. The cups were places quietly back on the table, and hands were folded in laps as the ladies waited for a long moment. A slight breeze played across the veranda, making the wisteria whisper.

Then the hostess, a tall thin blonde in pale blue reached forward and spun the lazy susan around until it was dizzying to watch. She say back and let it come to a rest on its own.

Each occupant of the table perused the selections of twenty identical, white porcelain teapots.

“Missy, I believe it is your turn to choose first,” the blonde said.

A tall brunette replied, “Yes, of course, Kitty. Thank you.” She arched her neck slightly as she tried to make a choice. “I have to say that the green tea I just had was a little weak. I hope I may find something stronger and more flavorful this time.” She leaned forward and breathed in deeply, her head moving back and forth slightly as she tried to parse out the aromas.

“Oh, then, I hope you get the one I just had,” said another blonde, bonier and shorter than Kitty, who tried to make up her height with an elaborate coif. “It was a black, almost as strong as coffee.”

Missy arched an eyebrow. “Is that what you hope, Kelly?”

Behind Kelly’s smile was a smirk. “No, not really.”

The last lady at the table, raven haired and regal, spoke. “Manners, ladies.” Her eyes roved around the table. “Missy, this waiting is coming close to being rude.”

Missy’s cheeks pinked just slightly. “Yes, of course, Tabby.” She reached out her hands, paused a moment, and then chose a teapot three back and slightly to her left. Once it was down on the table in front of her, the three others were quick to make their own choices. Each then poured a small amount into their cups.

This time Missy said, “Drink.” And again, each raised a cup and swallowed a sip of tea. Before the cups were even placed back on the table, Kelly started clutching at her throat. Her breath was coming in gasps, and her lips were turning blue. Her eyes rolled back in her head, foaming spittle erupted from her mouth, and she slumped to the floor.

Missy looked down at her body and said, “If wishes were fishes, dear heart.”

“Missy,” Tabby’s admonishment rang out sharply. “Gloating is so unladylike.”

Missy bowed her head. Tabby continued, “Well, I believe it was Kelly’s turn to host next month. Since she will be somewhat indisposed, I will take her turn. Ladies,” she said as she stood, bowed her head ever so slightly and swept out the door that led back into the house.

Exactly What Do I Do?

In our society, we like labels. They help us put people into roles and more define how we see them. This can be helpful and completely the opposite of helpful because all of us at some point do not fit every aspect of the labels we are given. Labels are rigid boxes instead of flexible spheres.

The absolute go-to label is that of occupation. When we meet someone new, “What do you do?” is almost always the second question after “What is your name?” We are very much about being defined by our careers. Once upon a time the answers were usually easy. Doctor. Fireman. Milkman. Businessman. Homemaker. Nurse. Teacher. Now? I am the manager of the software and web development team for an international multimedia conglomerate does not roll of the tongue. Because we like simple and boxes over spheres, the answer becomes, IT Manager.

Homemaker has morphed into Stay-At-Home-Parent for the most part. (Nothing against anyone who manages a household minus the parenting part.) Which on the surface seems like it fits that simple formula. Even when we acknowledge it is not an easy career, it is a simple idea to understand. It’s a tidy, neat box even if the house you work in is not.

After my son was born and I chose to be a SAHM, though that label didn’t fit perfectly. I worked very part-time as a babysitter in the Y’s Childwatch and several days a month at a public library at the reference desk. Still my children were the focus of my career. I enjoyed the time outside the house. I liked what I did at the library, it was rewarding and stimulating, without making me feel like I was juggling, and I liked the free Y membership.

Both jobs ended in July 2013, and I started a new position that now clocks in at 24 hours a week.

So how do I answer, “What do you do?” I am no longer a SAHM, but I do not consider my job, my career. I still think of my family as my career. I want mother to be my career even if I do a job outside the home. I want to contribute to the financial stability and savings for my family, but I do not want to be defined by the activity I do towards that goal. I want to be defined as a mother, wife, pet owner, watcher of My Little Pony and Scooby Doo, reader of Harry Potter, art critic of Crayola No Mess masterpieces, catcher of pool jumpers, snowman building supervisor, bugkiller, Amigurmi aficionado, friend, and occasional novel writer.

There’s no box for that.

So I say librarian. And maybe as someone gets to know me better, they start seeing all the other things, the important things. The things that are me and not just what I do.

Stealing the Random

I haven’t written here in a while, and I want to keep more up-to-date. I’m having topic block though, so I thought I would steal from my husband and throw everything at the blog and see what sticks.

* I miss my dog. (He will get his own post soon, but I am not ready yet.)

* My kids miss our dog, and the honesty of their grief is almost overpowering.

* John misses our dog and has managed to be strong and honest and wonderful.

* The kids are going through a major defiant streak. There should be a CrossFit move called Carrying the Preschooler to Timeout. All you have to do is carry a limp punching bag around the room and place it in the corner.

* Despite workout out a lot and recording my calories (and trying to keep them under a certain level), I am not losing weight. The doctor is concerned. He gave me two months to try and change things up and see if the weight comes off before we try any tests or medication. He wants more cardio and suggested no “carbs” for at least a little while. So I have been severely limiting my bpp (bread, pasta, potato) intake. And, fuck it, it is working. But FUCK IT. I hate it. I am not one of these people who will happily post pictures of the mashed cauliflower and spaghetti squash dinners they are loving. I want some mac and cheese stat. I will always want garlic bread. Hamburgers should not be eaten without fries. And I will live by that creed even if I weigh 120 lbs.

* Also it is really annoying that my current obese weight is the healthy weight for someone six inches taller. Sometimes I hate the Greek genes.

* I got my notes back from the editors at Bannerwing whom John hired as a Mother’s Day present. I have also met with them via Facebook chat. I am overwhelmed and energized by rewrites all at the same time. I am really hoping to have a publish-ready manuscript by the end of the year.

* I wish I could think of my writing as serious and not as a hobby or something that takes away time from things I should be doing.

* In August I leave my husband and kids behind to attend a wedding in Napa Valley. On one hand, I am thrilled for a get-away to a place I have not been with family with whom I do not get to spend much time. On the other hand, I am going to wine country without John. On a third hand, I am glad the kids will be with him because then I don’t have to worry as much about what is going on at home. I know he’s got it. It would be different if we had to leave them with another family member. So less worry, but no romantic wine tastings. I am conflicted.

* Our trip to the beach can not come soon enough. Four weeks seems so long right now.

 

 

Catch Up Haikus

I have to admit that these birthday haikus are not as easy as I thought they would be. Thus, I have put them off and then forgotten to do them, especially when there is a stretch between birthdays. Add that I spent a day trying to get pictures to load to an SD card for a digital frame present, and you see how I am just not getting around to my sister and Anne. It doesn’t mean I love either of you any less. It just means I am not creative, organized, or sharp-minded.

Alex

She’s small but mighty

Always cumblebeets aware

We are so lucky

 

Anne

Red wine makes giggle

Tasty gluten and dairy free

Only her cooking

 

Once Upon a Time I Was a Reader

I always had a book with me growing up. Any free time at school was filled by reading. Even in high school, I would rush to my next class to spend the extra transition time reading. I read while I watched TV. If I was into a book, I would stay up until 3 A.M. because it would be impossible to put it down. While in college my pleasure reading was diminished, but I at least always had a book I was reading that was not for a class.

This continued into adulthood, but somewhere in the last couple of years, it has changed.

I have lost my reading fervor. I can’t tell you the last time that I was preoccupied with a book to the point that I would pull it out at every possible moment. I don’t feel drawn in like I use to. I have a stack of books and electronic books in my Amazon account that I start and stop and start again, unable to connect enough to the story to make picking it up after the kids are in bed worth the energy. Plus, there is no staying awake no matter how interesting the story is. I borrowed The Maze Runner electronically from the library. It is definitely a page turner, fast-paced with a good mystery at its heart. It was automatically returned yesterday. I was only halfway through. In two weeks, I could only read half of a teen book. I am now 24th on the waiting list. If this happened when I was 14 or 15 or even 20, I would have had to buy it. Now? I can wait.

And I just keep asking myself why?

I think partly it is there is so much more to fill up my brain than there use to be. There just isn’t room for the preoccupation of a current story. And my passion has gone to other things that require all my energy and attention. In my youth, I had so little responsibility and demands on my time, my mind could live with fictional characters at great length with no detriment to my real life interactions. Plus? I was not popular. If I didn’t have a band thing or a Shakespeare Troupe thing, I didn’t have a thing. Fictional characters did not judge me based on the height of my bangs or the label on my jeans. I could pretend that Mr. Darcy would totally find me pleasurable to look at even if high school boys thought I looked like their kid sisters. Characters didn’t know about my parents’ divorce and the awkward situations my friends might see if they came over. And as a young adult, I had a long commute and evenings in an apartment that needed very little attention with a dog who just loved to curl up. Now? None of those things are part of my life anymore. My time and even my thoughts are hardly ever my own. My real life is now worthy of all of my time and passion. Which is wonderful. I love my real life.

But I know my story passion is still there as I do get enthralled in audiobooks. When I can get into the story while doing other things like driving, work-outing, cooking, or cleaning, it is easier. Motherhood thy name is multi-tasking.

But I miss the printed word. I miss giving the characters my own voice. I miss curling up and not multi-tasking, giving something my attention for no other reason than it pleases me.

Ultimately, it comes down to this…. Dance of Dragons bored me to the point that I haven’t even finished it.

I think the world of reading, for me, has been forever dulled.

Well, maybe not forever.

If Tyrion rides a dragon to The Wall, stopping by King’s Landing to turn Cersei into ash along the way, my pilot light might be re-set.