Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Woman Should Submit to Her Husband-- and Ignore Her Mother's Phone Calls.

We've had absolutely beautiful weather the last few day- so beautiful that little green stems are starting to shoot up in my garden-- and this has inspired me to spring clean. The problem with spring cleaning, however, is that I have to do it.  This means my inspiration died almost before it was fully born.  I have, however, started opening windows.  Fresh air blowing through a house just makes you feel clean, even if you're not.  But opening the windows opens the door to another set of problems-- well, not a set.  Just one.   

On a beautiful summer day eight months ago, a few days before my husband's 36th birthday, I received a phone call from my mother.  I wonder now how different my life would be if I hadn't answered the phone...  The first words out of her mouth were "Guess what I just did".  Knowing my mother, this could be any number of things-- but knowing my mother as well as I do, I was able to narrow down pretty quickly to "You bought a rabbit."  Nope.  Another chicken?  Nope...  A donkey?  I know you've always wanted a donkey...  Nope.  Not a donkey.  Your father would kill me.  (No, he wouldn't- -he would just roll his eyes, sigh, then proceed to make friends with the donkey.)  Just as I was beginning to think maybe I did not know my mother as well as I thought I did, I was validated.  "I got a puppy!".  And then she went into a detailed description (ie, justification) of this dog and why it was necessary, essential, humane, etc to rescue this puppy from the pound.  The justification began with "Jagen (her 13 yr old dog) is going to die soon, and Amos (her 6 yr old dog) will be lonely." It ended with "He was all alone-- his mother and siblings had all been adopted already, except..."

And here it was. The REAL reason she called.  Oh sure, she was excited and wanted to share her good news with me.  She knew that I, being her daughter and very similar to her in very many ways, would be thrilled at the idea of a puppy.  She was also relying on me to give her the courage to share the news with my father- because she's always convinced he's going to be angry, and yet I've never seen him react in any way other than the above-mentioned display.  In case it's not obvious, this happened many many many times throughout my childhood.  Chicken orders aside, there was Courtney, Scrumpy, Majesty, Jed, Jagen, Amos, Kayla... none of which had my father's pre-approval.  And now, Jasper.  Oh yes, she had the name picked out before he was officially hers.  (There have been a few approved acquisitions:  namely, Leiben... and, oh, my father was present for two kittens- Paris and Ashby, but I'm quite certain he was not present when the promise was made that I would get one cat (not two).  So, suffice it to say, if my father were asked, he only ever approved of Leiben.  And I think the original goat-- definitely not the herd my mother has had since then.   Obviously, my mother is doing something right, though.  JMahl would never put up with this menagerie.

But back to the phone conversation:  "His mother and siblings have all been adopted (and I've already been told the whole sad story of how they came to be impounded), except for one other little brother."
And there it is.  


I'll save you the specifics as to the conversation I had with my husband immediately following this phone call.  It started with "Mom got you a birthday present" and then was a mix of "NO" and various statements such as "you love dogs!", NO, "it's just for the summer, then mom will take it back", NO, "the kids need a dog", NO.  It then progressed to guilt-infested statements like "but I get so scared when you travel for business", NO, and "don't you think I deserve this"... still mixed with "NO"... then I actually went to "what are you going to do?  Leave me if I get a dog?".  That at least got a "No, but..." and false promises such as "you won't even  know he's here. you won't have to do anything!".  Still No.  I still have the email trail to prove it.  

Sometimes I wonder why I tried so hard.  He, at least, put up a good fight, and actually tried to bribe me with things such as "I'll say yes if you say yes to XXX".  And yes, that XXX is accurate, but I'm just as good at saying No. 

And eventually, I got my dog.  (Remember prior post? My husband never says No to me.)  Well, my dog by proxy.  He is technically my mother's dog, since she officially adopted him and the paperwork is in her name.  Therefore, she is technically liable- and can be blamed- for what has ensued over the last eight months.  Because a dog has ensued.  A dog who destroys everything he can get his teeth and paws on... my quarter-round trim, my black leather knee-high boots, JMahl's dress shoes for work, various other sneakers (never both of the same pair-- only one of each), toys galore... for a while I kept a list, then it became too time-consuming to keep the list up-to-date.  He's a destructo-dog. Nothing satisfies his urge to chew, to run, to chase, to wrestle. He's got more energy than I and my four children can put up with... or maybe the problem is that he has so much energy that the children can't do much with him.  Letting the kids walk him normally turns into a two hour tramp through the neighborhood, tracking a trailing leash, while nursing an arm that almost got ripped out of the socket.  The bright side is that when I'm torn between keeping or getting rid of something, I just leave it on the floor and let Dugan make the decision for me. 

And that brings me to today's post.  I sat outside in the beautiful warm sun this morning-- and all I could see was my dog's last eight months of destruction.  Holes pitted throughout my yard.  My flower bed nothing but dirt, my cherry tree dead and abandoned behind the house  Decorative border stones-- strewn about my yard and bed like they are nothing.  Pieces of sleds and bike helmets still laying where they died.  My lanterns-- all broken and toppled.  My wooden bench- chewed.  My grass.. dead. Dirt everywhere.  My yard looks like something out of a hillbilly movie.  All we are missing is a few cars on blocks.  A few chewed cars on blocks.  It's depressing.  Sad.  Almost hopeless.  But ahhh.. a few green shoots were struggling through the dirt where my flower bed used to be.  In the midst of the dirt and crumble, small green plants (couldn't tell you what they are) are persevering.  I will get a flower or two this Spring.  

After admiring the perseverance of my little flower bed I came back inside, bringing the dog with me.  Dugan, making his typical mad dash through the house to check on the status of food dropped by children and toys left on the floor- caught a scent on the breeze coming through the open dining room window--   and, with a bark, went right through it.  Luckily (depending on how you look at it) I caught him right before he made it all the way through the window.  It's a 10 foot drop to the back deck from here, and my screen made quite the clatter as it fell.  I imagine he would have made a similar bang.  (You can't blame me if there's a small bit of pleasure in the imagining.)

So I shut my windows, trapping myself back inside the winter-musty house, and sat down to write-- dreaming of the Spring flowers growing in my garden.  Until Dugan chews them to shreds, that is.  


  1. Oh the joys of life with animals... I am very familiar I myself have three dogs and three cats and two toddlers house that stays a mess even after it has been cleaned. Prior to the kids we also had (in additoin to the three dogs nd cats)three rabbits and two birds- my hubby does not know how to say "no". It is alomst a curse. (at the time we lived in a 2 bedroom 700 sq. ft. appartment) Good times! I love reading what I can realte too. Hope the kiddos enjoy the dog :)

  2. The kids (and my husband and I) all love the dog-- despite... well, everything! I'm glad you enjoyed. And glad I'm not alone in the constant "mess" of life.