Taking care of Annie feels like mothering to me

I’ve been mothering my dog today. She has yet another ear infection, despite repeated home treatment. The doctor pointed to her floppy ears and said she’s a “poster child” for ear infections. Sunday, she started scratching her ears and shaking her head, sulking in misery in-between. I kept looking at her ears and couldn’t see the problem, but it was worse yesterday, so I called the vet first thing this morning. Out with the work schedule. Annie is more important. I have some things I should see my own doctor for, but not when my baby is hurting.

Annie is always happy to go for a ride, but as she began to realize where we were going, she started shaking. I drove with one hand and held her with the other. At the vet’s office, she ran up to the counter and greeted the receptionist. Then she leaped onto the padded seat to sit next to me, putting her paws in my lap and her head on my shoulder. She was trembling. I held her and tried to reassure her, especially when other dogs cried out from beyond the closed door.

Finally it was her turn. I told the lady vet about Annie’s symptoms and what I had been doing for them. I held my dog as an aide took her temperature and the doc swabbed gunk out of her ears to have it analyzed. I got instructions for medicine and ear wash, and we talked about Annie’s diet because my pup’s getting a little chunky. I’ve been giving her too much chow. Am I measuring her food, the vet asked. Uh, no. This diet is going to hurt me more than it does my dog.

Annie gobbled a few dog cookies, I paid the bill, and we walked out together, her tail wagging, my bank account bruised. I foresee a lot of difficult sessions getting medicine into Annie’s ears, but I will do it. I will let her shake goo all over my clothes, just as I let her lick my face and jump in my lap–all 81.5 pounds of her–because I love her, and it’s my job to take care of her.

If that isn’t mothering, what is?

Looking back at 2012 and ahead to 2013

Dear friends,
This is my last post of the year, so I feel compelled to offer some kind of wise analysis of the past year and guidance for the coming year. I wish I knew what to say.
For me, 2012 was a year when it became much easier to live with the loss of my dear husband, Fred. He died in April 2011. Soon I won’t be able to say he died “last year.” Attention from other people has dropped off. Several people who surprised me with Christmas gifts last year did not offer anything this year. I guess after a year, you’re supposed to be “over it.” But as with the grief of not having the children we wanted, the grief of losing a spouse never completely goes away. It just gets easier to live with. I find myself able to focus more on the happy times and less on the sad ones, to look at his picture and smile, and to enjoy the freedom of not having to coordinate my life with another human being’s. (The dog is another story.)
In 2012, I finally published Childless by Marriage, my book about not having children because one’s spouse couldn’t or didn’t want to have children. It started out as a journalistic/sociological study and turned into my own story, with lots of research included. The e-book came out on Mother’s Day, and the print version on July 7. In between the two versions, my stepchildren went ballistic over what I said about them. After many painful phone calls and emails, a revision followed. We don’t talk much anymore, and I feel bad about that. But Fred was the link between us, and he’s gone.
I’m writing a novel and a lot of poetry now, which shouldn’t make anybody mad at me. I’m still blogging here, as well as at Unleashed in Oregon . I’m also doing a lot of music, as much as I possibly can. I turned 60 this year, and I feel a strong need to do what I was sent here to do and not waste time on things that don’t feel right.
My dog Annie is almost five. Her favorite thing is to snuggle with me. I swear she likes it better than eating or going for a walk. I do feel like her mother and often call myself Mom. I don’t care if it sounds silly. I’m constantly watching out for her needs. This year, I’ve treated her four times for ear infections, and everyone at the vet’s office knows me well. My first thought when I have to go away is always: “Who will take care of Annie?” I raised her from a seven-week-old puppy, and she will always be my baby.
My friends are showing grandchild photos all over the place lately. Am I jealous? Yes. But more and more often these days, I’m finding myself feeling happy, thinking my life is good. I have my house, I have Annie, I have good friends, I have family even though they’re far away, I’m healthy, I live by the beach, and I get to do the work I love every day. I know it all could change at any minute, but for now, as Fred used to say all the time, life is good.
So what do I resolve for next year? To use every day as well as I can and thank God for my blessings. On the practical side, I hope to finally attend to several little problems that I’ve been putting off. But I’m not starting any new diets or anything like that.
Enough about me. What about you? What did you accomplish in 2012, and what do you hope to do in 2013? Will this be the year you finally make a decision about children or find peace with the decisions you have already made? Life is short. Look at the people who died last year from tragedy or illness who had no idea they wouldn’t be around for 2013.
My wish for you for the new year is to treasure each day and use it well. Love the people around you, including other people’s children. If something needs changing, stop putting it off.
I’d love to hear your comments.
God bless you all. Thank you for being here.