An excellent start to the week: accidentally putting sliced bananas in my coffee instead of my oatmeal. I blame the 4:45 a.m. wake-up call from a certain miniature human.
Monthly Archives: March 2014
The Forgotten Children
The crying little bundle in my arms was making Artie anxious.
“It’s OK, buddy,” I said, as he frantically whimpered and jumped up to see what it was.
“Down,” I scolded, gently, but firmly. He followed me throughout the house, stopping when I stopped and rearing up on his little hind legs to try and catch a glimpse. Clyde, though nearly deaf, was curious as to what I was holding and stayed close behind.
“Try sitting on the couch,” Jonathan said.
I settled into the sofa and immediately, both dogs put their paws up on it, begging to be let up and sneak a peek at this mysterious little thing I was carrying around and handling with such care.
“Be sweet,” we said. “This is your baby brother,” we informed them.
Artie was the one we were worried about. We were certain that Clyde would, for the most part, ignore C.J. But Artie? There was no telling how his curiosity and jealousy would manifest themselves.
“Ok,” I said, tired. “I think that’s good for today.”
I turned off the crying baby app, unwrapped the bundle and removed the stuffed lion from inside the blue blanket, setting it down on the coffee table.
“Don’t let them see that it’s a stuffed animal,” Jonathan scolded, grabbing the lion and hiding it.
“They don’t know the difference,” I said, 30-something weeks pregnant and exhausted.
“Of course they do,” he said. “They’ve seen a stuffed animal before,” he said, pointing at their stuffed squeaking duck on the living room floor.
Oh, right. Guess he had a point.
If you’re wondering what the meaning of this absurdity is, let me enlighten you. This was our carefully concocted strategy for getting our beloved furry children used to A) The sound and presence of a crying baby, and B) The loss of our undivided attention.
We were determined to make this an easy, painless transition for them.
You see, I used to be obsessed with my dogs. Like really obsessed with them.
I never even wanted an engagement ring; instead, I wanted Jonathan to propose to me by offering me a puppy. (I ended up getting both — yep, he pretty much wins the Best Husband Ever award.)
When we left them behind for vacations, I’d request photo updates from the sitter several times a day and leave behind typed, detailed notes with emergency phone numbers and instructions to fill their water bowl with filtered water and ice cubes.
I was head over heels for Artie. Every night, we cuddled on the couch and stared deeply into each other’s eyes. True story. It creeped Jonathan out.
At dinner, friends would go on about their kids. “He gets so upset when I’m on the phone, not paying attention to him,” they might say. “He just starts acting out.”
I’d nod. “Oh my god, I know!” I would tell them, totally identifying. “Artie does the SAME thing!”
On the way home, Jonathan would tell me that I should probably stop comparing our dogs to other people’s kids.
“Whatever, they ARE our kids,” I’d say. We even had little steps leading up to our bed.
People warned us things would change when the baby came. “No way,” we thought. How could it? No one loved their dogs more than we did.
“I swear to God, if that dog barks one more time, I’m going to look into getting his voice box removed.”
Yeah. I’d say things have changed, alright.
It sort of happens without you even realizing it. This tiny human demands your body and your attention 24/7 and you don’t even realize there’s a sweet little Yorkie begging for your attention, or a sleepy little peekapoo who’s too old and grumpy to ask, but would love a pat on the head. When I was on maternity leave, there were days I forgot the dogs even existed unless they barked, in which case I became infuriated. There just didn’t seem to be enough energy or love inside me for all of them. Thank God Jonathan still loved them. And fed them. And took them outside.
Now that C.J. is 9 months old, we’ve come out of the fog a bit, and I make more of an effort to show both dogs a little love each night.
But every now and then, there are moments when we can’t believe how things have changed. Just the other night, Jonathan awoke to Clyde whimpering, laying beside his food bowl.
“Oh my god,” Jonathan said. “We are the Worst. Dog Owners. Ever.”
Turned out, we hadn’t filled their food bowls in about 24 hours. I thought he might cry from the guilt. Clyde was his baby, long before I even came along.
Things are slowly working toward Back To Normal. Artie and Clyde are getting used to C.J. We think they may even be starting to love him (either that, or they’re tasting him to see if he would make a good meal).
We hope that soon, when C.J. is running around, playing with them, his unconditional love and energy will make up for the changes they’ve experienced this past year. That they’ll grow to see him as part of our family, rather than a disruption to it.
Related Content: Welcoming Furry Friends To Your Home
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Every Friday, our daycare sends home a peppy little newsletter informing us of next week’s theme and activities. For example, March 2 was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, so Read Across America with Dr. Seuss kicked off that Monday, and Wednesday, Cat in the Hat paid the classroom a special visit. (According to C.J.’s daily infant report, he REALLY enjoyed Cat’s visit — I only wish I could have been there to see it).
I keep this newsletter on our fridge. Sometimes I read it, sometimes I don’t. One evening, while perusing the fridge for an after-work snack, I happened to take a peek at it and noticed that the following day was Pajama Day. I immediately got excited because A) Dressing a baby doesn’t get much easier than P.J.’s and B) Honestly — is there anything cuter than baby in a footed onesie? (Sidebar: Two years ago, I would have said, “why, yes” and pointed at my dogs.)
I had just the jams for this occasion: a brand-spankin’ new, bright blue number with lime green buttons, footsies and an adorable little turtle on the front. I de-tagged it, washed it and the next morning, we were ready to roll.
“I wish I could wear pajamas today, too,” I whispered to C.J. as I carried him from the car to his school. He flapped his arms and responded with his happy pterodactyl shriek. Seeing other kids amble up to the building with their parents, I deduced that Pajama Day was not a school-wide initiative. Lucky infants! I thought.
There were only two other kids in C.J.’s class so far. L, who was, as usual, red-faced and screaming, and J, who as usual crawled right up to C.J. and swatted his face. Neither of them was in pajamas.
Guess their parents didn’t read the newsletter, I thought smugly. I was impressed with myself; it’s not every day I’m so on top of my game. I got to work and IM’d Jonathan to give him my usual unsolicited report of how drop-off went.
Me: That little stinker was so cute in his little turtle jammies.
Jonathan: I know.
Me: L and J were in there, but neither of them was wearing jammie jams. Oh well.
Jonathan: You definitely got the day right?
Me: Yeah, it was today. I don’t really care either way. Rainy Friday. He’s cozy. Still stylin.’
Jonathan: Yeah, except it’s Thursday.
Me: OH [word I can’t say on my blog or I’ll get fired]!
Jonathan: Oh well—he still looks cute—but you are losing it.
I felt like a complete moron as several realizations hit me all at once.
I wasn’t sure which was more troubling: the fact that my child was likely the only one in the entire school wearing his pajamas, the fact that it wasn’t Friday or the fact that now his teachers — not just my husband — know I’ve lost my mind.
I had tried so hard to keep the crazy confined to my house. No one has to know that sometimes I absentmindedly toss dirty clothes into the trash can instead of the hamper. Or that once in a while, I run around the house frantically searching for my cell phone only to realize minutes later that I’m on it. Or that just a few weeks ago, I unloaded groceries and stored a box of trash bags in the fridge. Or that every so often, I yell at my husband for moving my phone charger, then later on, I find it in my laptop bag.
I contemplated calling the school and explaining myself, but I thought that might make me seem even more crazy.
So I did what any normal, sane human being would do. I laughed so hard I cried.