Who among us dog-owning moms has not fallen into the cycle?
Kids beg for dog, parents provide a litany of responsibilities inherent in caring for a dog, kids promise to feed, clean up after, bath and walk dog. Dog is adopted. Novelty of custodial duties wears off. Kids need constant reminders. Fights ensue over who’s turn it is to do what. Mom, worn down and already a well-oiled feeding, cleaning up after, caring for living things machine, sustains dog’s life. Dog likes mom best.
Last night my husband and I came home close to 9 p.m. from a lacrosse banquet with our oldest son. I asked the other kids, “Did anyone feed the dogs dinner?” Notice in the last sentence the word dog was plural (we’ve entered the cycle twice).
I get that a good parent would insist at that moment her child stop whatever they were doing and feed the dogs dinner. But my kids have me well trained and I automatically went over to the dog food bin.
“One day if I ever go in the looney bin,” I said scooping kibble into the dog bowls, “someone is going to have to feed the dogs or they will starve.”
One of the kids yelled, “Not it!” followed without pause by two more not its.
“Not it?” Really? Have I taught my kids nothing about integrity? What about all those promises? Did anyone feel sorry for our helpless canines whose tummies were probably growling? Most importantly, did my allusion to the fact that I may be taking a vacation somewhere with padded walls not raise concern?
I clearly remember the day we adopted our little white terrier mix four years ago. Sally, seven years old at the time, laid out a party dress, tights, and party shoes on her bed. When I asked what the fancy clothes were for, she told me, “It’s what I am going to wear on the happiest day of my life. Because tomorrow we get Scrubby and that is going to be the happiest day of my life.”
Then, like morons, we got a second dog. A 140 pound drooling mastiff/ lab mix.
If I didn’t love my dogs and my kids so darn much, somebody would have to go. I am failing miserably at being consistent and holding my kids to the verbal pact they made upon bringing dogs into the family. They do help, but never without a reminder or threat.
There is only one more stage to make the cycle complete: When my one-day grown children become parents who enter a verbal agreement with my future grandchildren upon adopting a dog. That will be one of the happiest days of my life.
Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Visit her at JillFales.com.