Parenting test #1

I got up this morning and stumbled downstairs to eat a bowl of cereal. I didn’t even turn the light on in the kitchen; I just grabbed my food and went into the living room where I read the news on my laptop while eating my Life.  I was a little congested but thought I smelled something, and I wondered if something in the trash had gone bad.

By the time Mr. D. came downstairs, I was done with my cereal. He was in the kitchen making his lunch and I trooped in to deposit my bowl and kiss him goodbye before going upstairs to shower. And that’s when I noticed why the smell — our poor dog, who was still in his kennel, had had an accident (poop) overnight.  He looked miserable and the smell suddenly became overwhelming.  We quickly shuffled him out the front door to relieve himself (he’d held his pee all night, at least) and then set to cleaning up.  I’m not a gagger, usually, but pregnancy has made me much more sensitive to smells, so I found myself pressing a handkerchief to my nose while I scooped his soiled bedding up and hauled it down to the basement to be washed.  By the time I got back upstairs, Mr. D. had bagged up the solids and put them in the outside trash can, so I set to the actual cleaning, with rubber gloves and Clorox in hand.

I got everything cleaned up (Mr. D. had to go to work) and the dog back in his kennel in fresh bedding, with the only (apparent) casualty a bleach stain on my lounge pants (dammit), and hustled back upstairs to shower. But when I got back downstairs, I found the dog had vomited up the remnants of his dinner, along with bile, mucous, and foam. (He’d also managed to scrape his nose pretty badly, so there was blood on the bedding, too. Imagine my relief when I realized where the blood had come from, though — for about 10 seconds, I thought he was vomiting blood, with the attendant terror that accompanies that thought.)

My heart sank. Once I again, I hustled the dog out of his kennel and back outside, where he promptly vomited up more foam and mucous before finally coming back inside. I hauled another batch of soiled dog bedding downstairs to the laundry room, and then hustled the dog into the bath.

The bath seemed to finally shake him out of his misery and while he didn’t immediately bounce back to his normal post-bath manic-ness, he definitely perked up.  And drank some water. And drank some more water. And now he’s bundled up in a blanket in the last clean dog bed in the house and I’m working from home so I can monitor him.

I’ve had to clean up dog poop and pee before, but the magnitude of this morning’s mess was really unique. (For our dog, not dogs in general. He’s only 17 pounds.) And having to clean up a mess twice…well, it’s been quite a morning. I know that in a few months, this will probably seem somewhat routine — I’m reminded of the line from Bossypants, about poop leaking up a baby’s back.  For now, though, I take away two lessons:  first, I am completely unprepared for parenthood and second, I know can totally handle it.


A girl and her dog

For the last few weeks, I’ve been letting the dog sleep on a doggie bed next to my bed. This is not the norm — he usually has to sleep in his kennel, which is in the other room. And before Mr. D. left, that wasn’t a problem.

But after Mr. D. left, he stopped wanting to sleep in his kennel. He wanted to be next to me. We’ve let him sleep next to the bed in the past, usually if there were thunderstorms (he hates thunder). But over the last four weeks, I’ve let him sleep there almost every night (and definitely every night since I got back from my grandfather’s funeral — I think Mr. D. leaving a week before combined with my boarding him at the vet for four days really bothered him).

Some nights, I’ve even let him up on the bed for a little while before turning the light out. This is actually not all that unusual — it’s certainly more normal than him getting to sleep next to my bed every night. He’s pretty good about hopping down from the bed when it’s time to sleep.

A couple of nights, though, I’ve also let him stay up on the bed after I turn the light out. This is unusual, a special treat. But even then, he doesn’t usually stay on the bed for very long — he usually hops off the bed after an hour or so and curls up in his own spot.

So now you know the normal state of affairs.

Well last night, he was in his bed next to my bed. And I turned the light out. And then I heard clicking toenails as he walked over to the other side of the bed, where I put a little ottoman that he can use as a stair to get up on the bed (short little legs). I rolled over and peered at him, and his tail was down and he looked very scared. So I let him up on the bed, figuring he’d stay there for an hour or so and then hop down into his own bed.

Nope. He stayed on the bed with me all night, cuddled right up next to me. And when my alarm went off this morning, he perked up, rested his head on my hip, licked my hand, and THEN hopped down and went off to his kennel.

I think he knows he’s going to camp tomorrow. And that I’m getting pretty sad about saying goodbye to him for six whole weeks.

Separation anxiety

To my delight, the days have been going by pretty quickly. Another week down! Only eight weeks to go!

Of course, to my horror, the days have been going by pretty quickly without me getting jack done. And that’s making me super nervous.  I need to keep going through stuff in our apartment — things need to be thrown away, other things need to be filed away safely, and yet other things just need to be found before the movers get here.

Also, my dog goes to “camp” in less than two weeks, and that’s filling me with dread. He’s been dealing with some separation anxiety lately, I think.  Sometimes he’s fine — sticks to his routine, happily goes to his kennel at night, happily plays fetch — but other times I can tell he’s confused and insecure. Last night he really did not want to go to his kennel to sleep. He wanted to sleep with me, either on the bed or on one of his dog beds right next to the bed. And while I allowed either or both of those things a couple of times right after Mr. D. left (more out of my own neediness), I really don’t want him getting used to it. Especially not right before he goes to camp. (Camp is staying with Mr. D.’s parents, who have never before owned a dog. They like our boy and he stayed there for two weeks at Christmas when we were out of the country, but it’s still not something that’s totally in their comfort zone.)

So last night after taking the dog out and pouring myself a water, I told him to get in his kennel. Instead of dashing to his kennel and bed, though, he continued standing at the door to the bedroom, looking at me expectantly. When I repeated the command, his tail went all the way down (and his tail is only 2″ long, so that’s a feat), and he veeeerrrry sloooooooooowly started to slink towards his kennel.

I eventually got him in his kennel (I tricked him — I let him lay down on the dog bed next to my bed but when he got up to get water, I followed and then directed him to the kennel, which is near his water bowl). But he rattled the door of the kennel for 15 minutes, hoping to be let out.  (I did not succumb!)  Anyway, he seems fine this morning and was curled up among his blankets when I went to take him out this morning. So I’m thinking he is no worse for the wear — and he probably doesn’t remember why he was so reluctant last night anyway.

At any rate, I am really trying to keep things very normal for him over the next couple of weeks, because being at camp will be another shock to his system. At least he’ll be there for a while. It seems strange, but I think his being there a full six weeks means he’ll have a good chance to get relaxed and comfortable and feel secure and happy instead of feeling insecure and disrupted. And nothing ever changes at my in-laws’ so there won’t be anything to shake him up. And there will be squirrels.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to enjoy the last two weeks in this apartment with all of our stuff. We’ve made a very comfortable home here — everything works in its place so well and its so, well, comfortable. And for two weeks I’ll be living here without any stuff and it won’t be very comfortable. I’m not really looking forward to that. I’ll also be without a TV or cable service — though I’ll have the internet, of course — which is going to limit how I can spend my time. I’m planning on watching a lot of Netflix instant streaming and I’ll probably hold out the Buffy Chosen Collection so I can watch that too.  Maybe I’ll rewatch BSG while I’m at it.

So there it is. Two weeks of normal — or, as normal as possible without Mr. D. — followed by two weeks of pretty bad. Yeah, I better enjoy normal while I’ve got it.

Unexpectedly poignant things

Our movers come in just about two weeks to pack us up and take our stuff out east so I’ve been doing a lot of stuff this week in anticipation of that. Surprisingly, a lot of these things have been sort of emotionally fraught for me. Which is weird. Less weird for some of them than others, of course.

Less weird:

  • Telling our dog walker we’re moving and what our last day will be.
  • Making a list of my necessities for the six weeks I’ll be here after the movers come.
  • Making a rental car reservation for the trip to my in-laws’ when I’ll drop the dog off for six weeks.

More weird:

  • Changing our address for our car and renter’s insurance.
  • Arranging cancellation of the cable (mostly because we have a few special shows recorded on our DVR that have been there for three years that will go away when the box does).
  • Setting a stop-service order on our electricity account.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve done all of these things, well, TODAY and they are only emotionally heavy in combination. Whatever the case may be, I think I just want to get past it all and be excited again.


We said goodbye to my grandfather on Saturday. The services were lovely — my grandfather was well-loved by not only his family but also by his community, and both turned out to celebrate his life.

Mr. D. was also able to make it and I was so glad to see him. It made the whole separation easier, too — seeing him so soon made the time apart so far just seem like a business trip, a short interval — and it’s making the time ahead feel the same. Skype helps with that.

So all things considered, I’m handling both of the upheavals of the last 10 days pretty well. Except I’m kind of not.

First, I’m exhausted from the weekend — I slept in four different beds in the four different nights I was away. I drove the Texas triangle — San Antonio to Corpus to Houston and back to San Antonio — over a 60 hour period. I, of course, attended a rosary and a funeral and a graveside service and a wake (more or less) and a reception; I also went to a wedding shower and several family dinners.

Drop all that on top of plugging away at the work assignment that never ends (I just keep chipping away at it and it never goes away), living in an apartment that is apparently hot sh!t (landlord’s been showing it nonstop since last week — thankfully I was out of town for most of it), ferrying the dog back and forth to and from the kennel, and worrying about general (though mostly temporary) financial constraints and you have a recipe for total weariness.

I have three weeks, more or less, until the movers come to pack me up and take my stuff (and my dog, who is keeping me sane right now) and I’m hoping to spend those weeks regaining my sanity — keeping organized and tidy and rested and healthy. The weeks after that are going to be rough, but if I can get into a good, balanced place first, hopefully it won’t throw me into a complete downward spiral.

I leave you with one tired dog. He looks like I feel.

It’s like fording a river

I go back and forth on the upcoming ten weeks apart from Mr. D. Not back and forth on whether it’s going to suck — it is, undoubtedly — but on how bad it’s going to be.

Sometimes I think, It’ll be OK — I’ll make some progress on that article I keep trying to write! And I’ll probably eat less and more healthily. And I’ll fill my time with yoga and running so I’m not bored. When I’m thinking that way, it doesn’t seem all that awful.

But other times I think, I am going to be all alone. I’ll be watching TV by myself, I’ll come home to an empty house, I’ll only be making coffee for one person. I’ll have to get up early and stay up late every day to take the dog out. I’ll go days without talking to anyone outside of the office.

The reality will probably fall somewhere in the middle, at least for the first few of our ten weeks apart.  I may, in fact, go an extended period of time without talking to anyone (though hopefully we’ll be regularly Skyping, so maybe not). But I probably won’t be completely deprived of human contact — I will go to yoga once a week and I’ll have choir on Sundays and I’ll obviously being going to work every day. And I’ll have the dog.

At least for a few weeks.

Because, while those few weeks won’t be fun, at least I’ll be in our current apartment — our home, where we’ve lived for three years — with all of our stuff and the dog. But somewhere in the middle of August, the dog is going to go stay with Mr. D’s parents for a while and the movers are going to come and get all of our stuff.  And then I’ll spend two weeks in an empty apartment.

And you know what? Those two weeks won’t even be all that bad. I’ll still be in a familiar place, my clothes will still be in my closet, I’ll still be showering in my shower and cooking in my kitchen, albeit on a very reduced scale.

No, it’s the last four weeks that have me pretty much terrified.  I’ll be moving into a sublet, because our lease on our current place will be up.  I think I’ve found the sublet and, while it has a lot of pluses, I’m not sure they outweigh the minuses. It’s at least a wash.

The sublet is a tiny studio in an old building that looks like it was probably once a hotel — probably, in fact, an SRO at some point. The unit has its own bathroom and kitchenette, but the room itself is no bigger than our current bedroom. The hallways are dim and sort of depressing — long corridors with evenly spaced doors behind which the occupants do little more than sleep, bathe, and maybe eat.

There are some good features: it’s a block away from one of my good friends here, and three blocks from another couple of friends. It’s in a lively neighborhood with lots of amenities (including three grocery stores in walking distance). It’s a short walk to an easy express bus route to work. And it’s cheap, cheap, cheap. I mean, really really cheap.

But it’s insanely small. And a little dumpy. And I won’t have any of my furniture in it — just a mattress on the floor that the current tenant is willing to leave for me to use for the month, and maybe a small table she might also leave. I can live in cramped quarters if I have my personal touches, but a lot of my personal touches will be across the country by then. And I’ll be without my personal touches in this depressing, former SRO building.

I know I’ll get through it, past it, and there may even be things about the experience that will be good for me. Maybe I’ll be forced to be more social, to make plans with other people more regularly, to get out from behind my computer. And maybe I’ll lose some more weight because I’ll be cooking for one instead of two very differently sized people and living so close to a nice running path. And maybe I’ll learn to be a little more OK being alone.

But I’m really not looking forward to it. Right now, I’m really struggling with serious sadness, in fact. The kind of sadness that compelled me to buy the fixings for pimento cheese and make a huge batch of it. I know from experience that I can’t bypass this part of the experience — I’m going to have to get through it before I can come out on the other side of it. And once I do, I think I’ll be pretty much at peace with all this reality. The getting there, though…oof. Not fun.

What’s the opposite of “when it rains, it pours”?

So after months and months and months of back and forth and waiting and pestering and more waiting, Mr. D. has his dream job. A final offer for same. (OK, a verbal final offer for same, with the paperwork to arrive sometime early next week.)

Though I have known we were moving since I accepted my dream job last month, it suddenly just got real. Mr. D. starts his new job in four weeks. FOUR WEEKS.  In ANOTHER CITY. Suddenly all the planning and preparing and presenting of hypotheticals about how we would manage living apart for some period of time, what our housing arrangements would look like, and how we’d get our stuff from one city to another in two separate stages — well, suddenly all of that has to happen, like, NOW.

It’s a little stressful.

The good news (I guess?) is that Mr. D. will be between jobs for about two weeks, so he’ll have that time to pack up his stuff — the stuff he’ll be taking with him when he leaves, when he’ll be (probably) subletting or living in temp housing for a few weeks or a month. And he’ll pack up books, pictures, movies, other heavy stuff he can drive out there with him. And that’ll help me get our current place tidied up, since our landlord is putting it on the market.

But the bad news is that he’ll be leaving two months before I will be. And I’ll be on my own dealing with movers and the dog and finding my own short-term sublet (because our lease ends three weeks before my job ends) — and did I mention that I’ll be on my own for all that?

No, really, in the grand scheme of things, this is all very good.  Mr. D. has been waiting for this for so long and he deserves it so much. And he’s getting it right when his current gig ends (his contract is up at the end of the month). And did I mention it’s his dream job? For all my complaining, I’m actually pretty happy right now.