What has got me so emotional right now? Could be 100 things. Could be the fact that I’m listening to a long, slow cover of The Monkee’s Daydream Believer. Suppose it could be something about the lyrics.
I could hide beneath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings.
The six o’clock alarm would never ring.
But six rings and I rise,
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes.
Could be the heartbreaking realization that my beloved dog is not getting any better. He’s blind now. He spends his nights panting and grunting. Pacing. Begging for more food and more water because the drugs he’s on make him more hungry and more thirsty than his usual ravenous self, which means he has to go to the bathroom ALL THE TIME.
I carry him down the stairs. I carry him up the stairs. At 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. I’m outside with bare feet guiding him to a tree so he can pee. Sometimes this reminds me of when he was a puppy and I used to carry him down my apartment steps because he was still too little to do them on his own.
I remember his first night, how he cried, how he missed his pug siblings, how he must have missed his mother and father. It tore me up then and it tears me up now. I felt guilty for snatching him away. And now I can’t imagine having spent such a formative time in my life with any other companion.
I was 22 years old when I got Cubbie and 1,200 miles from home. Two months prior to plucking him from a litter in Bradenton, I had been in New York with my litter – my siblings, my mother and my father. No one had snatched me away. I had left of my own volition, but it hurt like hell just the same.
I never lived anywhere but home. My parents never moved us from house to house or town to town. I slept in the same bedroom from infancy to adulthood. I never went away to college. I commuted, sensibly. I graduated from Buffalo State and immediately moved away, ready for a new adventure. Ready to grow up and do something with myself.
I saved my first paycheck for the purchase of a pug, which my parents advised me not to do. They said I worked too many hours to care for a dog. I didn’t have a yard in which he could run freely. They worried I wasn’t prepared for the responsibility.
My family never went without a dog and I wasn’t about to break tradition.
I snatched Cubbie away from his mother just as I snatched myself away from my mother.
As a mother, I now realize the gravity of this move, how my parents must have cried when their first-born with her crazy-ass dreams and youthful determination, packed her bedroom into a 1985 Honda Civic and drove away.
Change can be a beautiful thing.
And a terrible thing.
I took Henry to preschool today. It’s his first day. It’s no big deal. It’s a joke really. He’s going twice a week for four hours a day. Eight hours a week of preschool. How on earth is this making me sad? I can assure you it’s not the time apart that’s vexing me. I’m totally fine with that. Since Henry was teeny tiny he’s spent whole nights away from home. He’s had babysitters. He goes to my in-law’s house once a week. My mother just spent four days with him while Joe and I were at a hotel across the bay. We told him we were going on vacation and he asked, “Be back soon?” And we said yes, so he was cool. He had a blast with my mother and never cried for us.
I’m attached to my child as most mothers are attached to their children. I relish time away from my child as most mothers relish time away from their children.
It’s not the separation. It’s the change.
It was because I took down his baby monitor. I dropped him off at preschool and I took down his baby monitor. He’s been asking me to do it for a week. It’s a fancy video monitor – a gift from Joe’s parents. He said he doesn’t like that I’m watching him sleep. Apparently at two he already feels like I’m invading his privacy.
Cubbie was in the room, presumably lost. I catch him in random places now, stuck in corners, veering off course, bewildered.
It was one of those heavy moments that hit you like a Hallmark commercial when you’re on your period.
I saw myself driving away from home. I saw my car loaded down with clothes and books. I saw my parents in the rearview mirror. Then I saw Cubbie as a puppy. I saw Henry as a baby. I saw myself as a mother. All of this felt like it happened 10 minutes ago.
None of it happened 10 minutes ago.
And that’s when I started crying. I sat down at my computer, turned on my stereo and this is what I heard: Cheer Up Sleepy Jean. Oh what can it mean?
So I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and wrote this post.