At 54, I’m a mother again. Yes, you heard that right.
We got a puppy about four months ago and I’m his mom. It didn’t start out that way. My daughter, Meg, was supposed to be his “mom,” but teenagers don’t make great moms. They’re too busy, self-absorbed and underfinanced.
So I had to take over.
This was definitely an unplanned puppy. But I have embraced him like I would my own child. Meg named him, a privilege she earned by being the puppy’s first mother. She calls him Willie.
Anyone who knows me knows I have avoided animals in my adult life. Those who have known me longer realize that I once loved dogs and in fact, was part of a family that owned two dogs.
After I got over the “yuck” factor with our new puppy, and there is a major “yuck” factor with dogs that I don’t need to detail, I recovered my repressed love for dogs.
Just in time, by the way.
I’ve been kind of fumbling along these last couple of years. Our two oldest, Jill and Bobby, are full-fledged grown-ups. My dear son Kerry went away to college and started his adult life while little Meg began high school and is preoccupied. In other words, my kids don’t need me as much.
My husband, FX, and I started a business, which has consumed a lot of our time. But I have a tendency to become too consumed and that drives my loved ones crazy.
Enter Willie. He doesn’t give a hoot about our business. He just wants to play, run with his dog gang, eat regular meals and be loved. Which is just like a child.
I loved raising my children. They’re so much fun and continue to be the joy of our lives. You live in the moment. You meet their parents and make new friends. You laugh a lot. Sure, challenges and worries abound. But for the most part, it is incredibly rewarding.
And so is Willie. We found him outside Pet Express in Stonestown on one of those “adoption” days. We welcomed him into our home knowing little about puppy care. Willie came to us with kennel cough and ring worm. We had to isolate him and keep him away from other dogs for a month. Torture for everyone.
Willie required so much time and energy just as the “FX Crowley Company” was starting to take off. There were a few weeks when clients were ignored, cupboards remained bare and the family struggled to get along with each other. Stress does that and a new puppy, like a new baby, demands a major adjustment to your lifestyle.
I read some books about dogs and we immersed ourselves into dog care and training. Things had started to pick up when we received an anonymous note from a neighbor complaining about Willie’s barking. And just like an insecure new mother, I cried and felt inadequate.
Then we got Willie neutered and he quieted down. We found Sigmund Stern Grove, five blocks away, which I only knew as a teenage hangout and venue for free and foggy summertime concerts. Who knew it was a dog park?
But we go there every day with Willie now and make new friends, reacquaint with old ones and watch Willie play like we used to watch our kids play at the park. My family has accused me of siphoning money from Meg’s college fund into dog toys and bully sticks. I hired a trainer who told me I hug Willie too much and need to make him earn his treats. I sing “Me and You and A Dog Named Boo” by Lobo on all our dog walks.
Old habits die hard.
I love being a mom again.