I’m Italian. I was raised in the Catholic Church.
Ergo, guilt is my middle name.
When my kids were little, I learned all about “mother guilt.” I got most of my exercise by beating myself up over what I did or didn’t do for my kids. I was too strict, or I let them get away with murder. Guilty!!! I was overprotective. But I didn’t watch them closely enough. Very guilty!!!
Dinner was…gasp….frozen pizza. Take away my mothering license!
Then the kids grew up. None of them are serial killers. All three are productive members of society.
I kind of let myself relax.
But now…I am suffering from a profound attack of momma guilt.
I’ll tell you why.
Two years ago we adopted a sweet little crazy pants puppy who we named Lennie. He was good company for our old dog, Tucker the Wolf King. All was well.
A year ago, though, old Tucker crossed that rainbow bridge, and Lennie was left with no one to play with except for Papa and I, two toddlers, two “cousin” dogs, a great neighbor dog and the occasional friend met on a walk.
We felt sorry for him. Also, if truth be told, we were hoping that a second dog might run off some of his boundless energy. So we reached out to some of the wonderful rescue groups out there, and we looked at a bunch of dogs. We thought we’d open our house to another canine in need of love and attention.
This time around, though, we had at least some idea of what we were doing, so we set some parameters.
“No more puppies,” we said to ourselves. “And no more hound dogs.” We had learned the hard way that puppies chew everything from your slippers to the living room rug. We knew that hounds would run away and not come back if they caught the scent of an animal outside. We were determined to avoid the mistakes of our pasts.
A few weeks went by and we started getting messages from a dear friend about a sweet, adorable, loving little labrador/basset hound mix. He looked so cute! He really needed a home.
We decided to adopt a hound puppy. Best laid plans and all that stuff.
His name is Bentley, and we have been in touch with his foster Mom for a couple of weeks. She’s crazy about him! We’ve been so excited to meet him. Two weeks before his arrival, I bought new toys, a pretty new collar with his name and our phone number. I even talked about him to Lennie.
I thought that everything was great until last night. I went to bed thinking, “Tomorrow we get to meet our little Bentley! Hurrah!”
Then I had a dream about Tucker. My sweet, beloved Wolf King. I dreamed of him so vividly that I could smell the familiar scent of his head. I could hear his mumblepuppy voice, and feel the soft soft fur of his ears.
I woke up, thinking, “Oh, Tucker! We aren’t replacing you! We’ll always love you! You were our boy, our Wolf King, our best friend.”
I laid awake for at least an hour, wracked with guilt.
Finally I fell asleep again, but awoke a little bit later wondering what that sound was in my ear.
The sound was Lennie, sleeping with his head on my pillow, breathing right into my ear. I turned toward him, and he licked my cheek in his sleep.
If we brought a new dog home, would Lennie feel less loved? Would he wonder why we thought we needed another dog, if we already had him? Would my sweet boy feel inadequate as a pet and need years of therapy to get over the betrayal by his Mom?
Guilt. Guilty McGuiltington. I barely slept.
This morning, early, we headed off to meet the transit van that was bringing Bentley to New England. Lennie was left at home to wonder what was up. Tucker was in my heart, looking at me with big brown accusing eyes.
There was a lump in my throat.
But there we were, committed to the new guy. He got out of the van, waddled his way over to us, greeted us with a huge doggy grin and shook his long velvety ears.
My heart turned over, I fell in love, and some of the guilt slipped away. The rest would be up to Lennie.
We made our way home, Bentley snuggled in my arms, and introduced our boys to each other.
And holy hound dog. Whaddaya know.
Within an hour, they had sniffed each other’s butts, bitten each other’s ears, shared the same water bowl, chased each other under various bushes, wrassled on the bed and the sofa and fallen asleep side by side.
I think it’s going rather well.
Now I look at Lennie and I feel guilty that I didn’t get him a baby brother months ago.
I tell ya, as a mother, you just can’t win.