My kids want a dog. Really really want a dog. As in, “if we just got a dog, our divorced family would be complete and perfect, mom!”
A good yank on the divorce guilt heartstrings.
Recently I started considering it. Now that the divorce has forced me from my awesomely fabulous city neighborhood and into the boring old burbs, we have more space. We have a fenced-in yard. And I can work from home once a week.
It’s a good time for a dog.
Or is it?
I asked three friends to be dog references for me. One enthusiastically stepped up to the plate and easily won over the doggie rescue folks. They loved her so much it was scary.
But the other two friends independently called me and begged me not to get a dog.
They are too nice to say, “Madness, you don’t like dogs. You don’t even like my dog!” Or “Madness, you are a neat freak and would lose your mind if your dog ever smelled or messed up your furniture.”
Instead, they said, “This is your time to shine! You’re finally relaxed and happy! A dog will keep you chained to the house, and you need to get out there!” (Or something to that effect.) One bluntly told me that she was a stay at home mom, and even she needed her husband’s help at night with the dog. Then she started describing her dog’s “delicate stomach” and I imagined all my future rugs soiled and destroyed. My other friend asked me what I would do on my rare nights off from the kids: “What about the time when you went to work, got your hair cut, and then met me for drinks? You couldn’t have done that if you had to go home to walk a dog,” she pointed out. And then the first friend reminded me that dog walkers around here charge something like $25 a visit. I cringed. I could buy a lot of wine for $25 a day!
My friends are right. And it’s not really that I don’t like dogs. I like some dogs very much. (At least a few of them, anyhow.) And its not even my house. I think I could manage the mess, maybe. But it’s the commitment. I’ve spent the last decade or more managing the unmanageable: a mentally ill, addicted, serial cheater husband. Then I spent three years fighting him like a dog in court to protect my children. Now that I’ve finally escaped from him, I can finally begin to breathe for the first time in probably 15 years.
So I told my children tonight that we must wait to get a dog. They wailed, they sobbed, they made me cry. But I already have a full plate: I’m a single mom with primary physical custody who works full-time and constantly needs a break. Someone who couldn’t recover from the flu in less than ten full days. Someone who is now worried about pneumonia and what would happen to her job and kids if this comes next.
It’s my time to hang out in bed on Saturday mornings when my children are with their dad, to go to long yoga classes and meet friends for coffee afterwards. To go to the gym after work when my kids aren’t around and then to go out for drinks or dinner. To actually make it to a book reading or a museum instead of school fundraisers and mommy nights out. To pull together a life, independent of my children, for the first time in a decade.
I’m so sorry, but I made a mistake. I’m not ready for a dog. Not this, not now.