Monday, January 21, 2013

Dogs Dogs Dogs

Over the years I have made an attempt to justify, rationalize, quantify or just simplify my love for dogs. I'm not sure I even get it. My relationship with my furry friends has been strained, stressful, exhaustive and intense. I've also experienced some of the deepest friendships I've ever had with my pups over the years. What follows is a brief and over-sentimental journey of my life as it has related to dogs. 

 My first dog was Buddy. He was an ugly and rat-like little terrier mix who I loved with all my heart. Buddy hated all things but me. My sister wrote a lovely eulogy for him and I'll just link up to it here. Buddy found me when I was 4 years old and passed away when I was 16. Needless to say his death was tough and his legacy; endless. 
I went many years as a single lady with no dog. 2 months after Dan and I were married we went online and picked out a pup together from a local rescue. Her name was Indi, and she became my best friend. Indi and I woke up every morning together and went running. She sat by my side when I was so sick with my first pregnancy and protected me when I was home alone. She was crazy but I loved her. Then we had Eli....and her neurosis became a little more pronounced. We worked and worked with her agression, anxiety, and territorial behavior. Then we had Sammy....two weeks later she bit Eli. It was awful but we had to let her go. Not just let her go but have her put down. I cried...a lot. I still think about my Indi-girl and how I wished we'd been able to help her out more. 
Next up was Scout. I got Scout 2 weeks after we bought our new house this last May. She was a tiny ten week old puppy and we had so much fun with her. But then she grew...and grew...and grew...and as she grew her energy level seems to double and triple. Pretty soon we had this horse lumbering around our house, chasing the kids, eating the chickens, and adding to the already chaotic atmosphere around here. I thought long and hard about it and finally decided we needed to find our gentle giant a new home. She's happier now and so are we. I loved her but just didn't have the energy to keep up.

And now here I sit with no dog. Our house has seemed so much more peaceful in the last few weeks...but I just have that old feeling like something is missing. I even made Dan take us all up to the humane society tonight to look at dogs but (sensibly) talked myself out of it. What I think it comes down to is I have this overwhelming desire for our kids to grow up with a dog. Also, Dan is gone a lot at night and I really love having the security and companionship of a dog around. 

So we'll keep looking for a dog. Not for many dogs, and not a crazy dog, but just a happy family dog. We keep striking out but I see so many other families with dogs I know it's possible, right? Dan thinks I'm crazy...most people think I'm crazy HECK I think I'm crazy but I do think we'll get another dog at some point and hopefully, just hopefully, it will be our forever family pup. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Mama At A Loss

I love being a mom. I don't mean to overstate things but I really do. There are, of course, challenges that come with motherhood. Some of these challenges are par for the course. Others require more thought and consideration. I'm dealing with one of those special challenges right now and would love some help or insight.

Eli is a good kid. And I mean that from everywhere in my heart. He is kind, soft, and loving. He plays well with others and is imaginative and thoughtful. He loves everyone around him and wants to be a part of everyone's lives he meets.

We are, however, dealing with some pretty tough problems with him right now and I don't know what to do. For most of his older life I've just classified these issues as standard toddler/little kid behavior. Things seem to be getting worse though and I'm getting completely overwhelmed with life. It could just be that we're first time parents and this is how all little 3 year old boys are...I just don't know.

Eli can get crazy...I mean like hyper to a point where we lose him. It used to happend infrequently but lately its been happening all the pretty much its all we get from him. He can be very task-oriented and does well if I give him a game to play or a project to work on. But as soon as he's not being completely entertained by me or a toy he comes unhinged. He yells, runs around, hits things, womps on Sammy, tackles the dog, throws things at me and creates general mayhem. When I give him 100% of my attention he's ok...if I divert for even a second I lose him.

Dan and I have read so many articles and talked for hours on how to best parent our little ball of love and energy. I am NOT a believer in holistic, 'natural', or pseudoscientific "cures" for hyper kids (no "essential oils" thank you) but I do think there is something more I can be doing to help Eli be happy and help our house not be a den of chaos 24/7.

We try very very hard to praise him endlessly for the good things he does and quickly and quietly discipline him for the negative...that's easy to implement in practice but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. I try to be patient but there is only so many times I can tell him to do something (like sit down at the dinner table, not yell at me, get out of the fridge, etc.) before I lose my patience. Today after coming home from a very long day at church (he flunked out of Sunbeams 3 times) I walked in the door to get lunch ready and he walked up to me and whipped my face with the metal end of the dog leash.  I'll be honest I did not get down and explain to him quietly why we don't hit mom with dog leashes, and put him calmly in time out. Nope...I spanked his bottom and hauled him off to his room. Not a great thing to do indeed but I do have a boiling point.

I love my little boy intensely. More than I can ever explain. He and Sammy fill our home with so much love and excitement. I want him to be happy more than anything else in the world but I am STRUGGLING learning how to communicate effectively with him. Dan starts school up tomorrow which means I will be alone with the kids a lot more in the next few months. I have been praying so hard for answers on how to be the best parent for my little boys. I just feel at such a loss these days.