Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A(nother) Big Reveal January 19, 2015

Excitement. Worry. Joy. Fear. These are an odd combination of emotions to feel all at once, but not necessarily at the receipt of any kind of big news. Not necessarily at the receipt of this kind of big news.

I’ve known it for a while, but opted to respect whatever timing element I did the last time around. That’s saying a lot as a doggie who wears his heart on his proverbial sleeve. I am usually pretty terrible at keeping secrets because I make it a goal of mine to be as emotionally present in the moment as possible. To me, that means sharing joy and all things blissful with anyone and everyone that will take it.

So the last few months have been pretty rough, keeping this news to myself. Especially given the impact it is having on my forever people.

I’m going to be a big brother! Again!

I honestly think I knew before mom did, just like I did with dear baby Carter. (Dogs have a sixth sense about these things). There was an almost immediate change in her heart rate, her smells, and her general persona. Joy. In a word, that’s what this secret contains.Big announcement!

This is big news. This is life-changing news. But this time, the news brought with it a little larger sense of fear and worry than last time. The idea of having two little people under two running around our forever home has its downsides. Those sleepless nights will return all too soon. Life will become a balancing act for all of us as the schedule is uprooted yet again. Money is already tight as it is – what will happen with another toddler in the house? And the diapers. So many diapers.

But then there’s the joy. So much joy. Family. Love. I’ve never seen my parents closer than they are since they brought home dear Carter, and I have no doubt another child will continue to foster their emotional growth. So what if it’s a little scary? These things have a way of working out. Besides, I’m just so excited to become a big brother again, and even more so for my little person to feel the love in this forever home of mine. Mom is home to me, and I know she will be home to the new little person. June 16, here we come!

 

 

Close Your Eyes December 21, 2014

It wasn’t the first time he said it and it won’t be the last. My dear forever dad made the comment today when he thought I wasn’t listening. It was one I’ve become all too familiar with hearing, especially around him. The Green Bay Packers were on television and I had assumed an incredibly comfortable position in one of my most favorite places in my forever home. To the average observer (and my dad, I guess), I was asleep on that cozy chair cushion.

“You sleep all the time, Wiles,” dad said, more for those in the room than for me. Or so he thought. Not only did I hear him loud and clear (as I always do), but it got me to thinking about the s0-called sleeping that I do. While I will admit there is the occasional bout of pure unadulterated snoozing, a lot of the time my mind is racing. Sleeeeeeep

I close my eyes and I see so much. I dream. I think about the future. I cherish the present. It seems like so long ago that I closed my eyes and saw my replacement doggie playing with mom and dad and little boy and girl there. Though it was jarring at first, I found peace with the concept of passing my legacy as the dog of the house to my successor. It’s a big job and I want to know that someday when the torch is handed off, it’s to someone I trust.

That image came to mind today as mom and dad shared what they thought was a private conversation. (See, I hear way more than they think I do). Mom was thinking out loud (as she does a lot) about when her and dad have another little person someday. She was saying it’s something she’s looking forward to, but finds herself stressing about more than she would have thought. “What if he or she is nothing like Carter?” she questioned. “What if we only had good luck with one, and the second one is all kinds of trouble?”

My ears perked up in anticipation of dad’s response. It’s a big question, to which he had the perfect answer.

“It’s not luck,” he said. “It’s how you’re raising him, Ty.” Wow. I don’t think he could have paid mom a higher compliment than he did with a mere handful of words. Here she was, babbling on and on about it and he says a grand total of eight words and brings the babbling brook to a happy and peaceful standstill. I honestly don’t think he could have said anything more perfect in that moment.

I would know, because it happens all the time. I hear all kinds of things when my people don’t think I’m listening. A lot of good things happen behind closed eyes. To me, as well as to those around me. I don’t mind if dad teases me about sleeping too much as a result. It’s worth it to witness moments like this.

 

Labor of Love September 1, 2014

It’s official. The cheese has fallen off my dear forever mom’s cracker. Truth be told, it’s been coming on for a while. Eight months ago yesterday, she was ending her torturous journey of pregnancy with the pinnacle of labor and delivery. Eight months ago, she and dad brought home dear baby Carter. Eight months ago he was a little 20.5 inches 7 pound ounces of a bundle otherwise known as joy. Eight months ago he cried all night every night for  weeks. And eight months ago it started.

All In the EyesMom wants another little person. She wants another teeny tiny snuggle bug. Eight months later, Carter isn’t so snuggly any more. It’s gotten worse since he’s been crawling all over the place and pulling himself up on anything vertical. Snuggles are a thing of the past for him, at least for now. I’m sure that’s not the only reason mom wants another little person (I think she has said something about the sibling relationship), but it seems too small a reason for me. Because dad and I think she’s absolutely nuts.

Sure, we’ve had it pretty easy with Carter. He slept through the night early, picked up a daily routine quickly and is generally in a fairly happy mood. Teething hasn’t been easy on the poor little guy, but he seems to be moving along with that as well as to be expected. But another one?

I think mom must be forgetting her battle bra royale (which continues on a daily basis), and the breakdowns about clothing and the back pain and the rib pain and all the pain she experienced throughout pregnancy. If she’s not forgetting that, she certainly must be forgetting the 16 hours she spent in labor to deliver dear baby Carter into the world. Or the painful recovery afterward, made more complicated by the incessant lack of sleep.

Or maybe not. Today I realized maybe she does remember it. All of it. Maybe that’s why she wants to do it again. For her, it was all a labor of love. For her, it is a labor of love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still with dad on this one. I think one little person is plenty around here. But I think I can at least acknowledge where she’s coming from. She’s thinking with her heart instead of her mind. She’s remembering the more effort you put into something the more you usually get out of it. The more it means to you.

I don’t know what the future holds in this regard. I probably won’t for a while. But I do know this is yet another reason to feel blessed that I have landed in the forever home I have. There is certainly no shortage of love around here. Even if it is a little crazy sometimes.

 

In Good Company June 16, 2014

It sounds incredibly exciting. But also a little terrifying. Today my people packed up dear baby Carter early this morning and did not return until late this evening. All to spend time with four girlfriends mom hasn’t seen in almost three years. And their families. That meant that in addition to the adults in the group, there were six babies three and under. That is a whole lot of babies, all on their own version of the eat, wake, sleep schedule. Six babies crying, laughing, giggling, and putting things in their mouths. Six babies crawling, running, sitting and standing. Life. From the ground up, that is what filled that three-bedroom condo at a resort in a town called Wisconsin Dells. Getting sleepy...

But also there were the four girls who started it all. Since their time together causing all sorts of mischief in college, they’ve gotten married and spread out all over the Midwestern United States. And now they are all moms. I wish I could have seen it. (Then I remember all the potential hair pulling involved with that particular age group of little people and I can’t help but feel pretty grateful I stayed home and got a few visits from aunt Morgan and her pup Joey). So instead I relived it through the stories mom and dad recalled as they relived the days events when they got home. There were two things I picked up from this conversation.

Each of these friends have their own unique way of things that makes them fabulous mothers. It just goes to show how wrong those books can be because (at least from what I can tell) there is no rule book on how to be a good parent. Sure, there is a whole section at libraries and book stores on all things babies, parenting, and child rearing. But I hold the belief that these little people have a way of writing their own rule books. And their mommas have a way of translating them. It’s a truly awe inspiringly beautiful thing.

The best part is how four girls who have become such uniquely different characters as women still make time for each other. They may only get together once a year, but they talk via email and on the phone whenever they can. They are busy (re: the aforementioned six children) ladies with a lot of different things in the air. But they make time for each other. It’s a priority.

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing,” suggested American writer Octavia Butler. That is what today was for my mom and her friends. It was exciting and a little bit terrifying. But that’s friendship. That’s life. From the ground up, today was a celebration of these most simple of truths.

Six little stinkers

 

Of Monsters and Dogs May 21, 2014

I’m not proud of it. But I succumbed to a human emotion I prefer to avoid today. And (even worse) it wasn’t the first time.

I was ecstatic that my (more than slightly ill) forever mom and dad decided to take baby Carter and I for a walk on this beautiful evening. It’s a far cry from those terrible frigid winter nights of the not-so-distant past. There we were, a happy family of four, journeying through my beloved neighborhood. It was grand.

Until it wasn’t. We were almost home when I saw him. Monster. I’m not joking or being coy. This dog’s name is actually legitimately Monster. I know it because I’ve heard him called that by his owners on several different occasions, including today.

Here’s the thing. Monster is scary looking. I’m not sure what breed he is, but he probably weighs about 120 pounds and is black and has red eyes. I’m not just saying so – his eyes are bloodshot red all the time. And it kind of freaks me out. It doesn’t help that he isn’t exactly friendly to other dogs in the neighborhood (namely me). Or that his forever people don’t ever have him leashed. But I digress.

There he was, unleashed, in all of his scary glory today and it was the first time he was exposed to my dear baby Carter. Well, I wasn’t having that. I could almost picture my all 15 pounds of my dear little person getting swallowed up by his big scary teeth. The thought was terrifying.

Then I noticed something. There were six or seven of them, all huddled around Monster, petting him and telling him to stay. Which he did. But more astonishing than that was that there they were. Six or seven little people, no older than 5 or 6 years old, in the company of this so-called monster.Forgive Me

I was overcome with guilt on the spot. All of this time I had assumed the worst about Monster. His name is Monster for crying out loud. But that’s the thing about first impressions.

“It’s pretty simple, pretty obvious: that people’s first impressions of people are really a big mistake,” suggested American actor Vincent D’Onofrio.

I’m not proud of it. But I succumbed to a human emotion I prefer to avoid today. First impressions. From the ground up, I was reminded today that there are a lot of impressions that come next. I’m a believer in second (third and fourth) chances, and this should be no different.

 

When It Rains March 17, 2014

It started at 1:23 a.m. That is when baby Carter started crying (all right, more like screaming), almost an hour an a half before he usually wakes up hungry this morning. So mom and dad got up, fed him, and went back to bed. Mom wasn’t sleeping very well to begin with, so I snuggled my best. I’m not sure it mattered.

Then at 5:36 a.m. the phone calls and text messages started. My dear grandma, who was all set to babysit baby Carter on mom’s first day back to work, couldn’t come. She broke a tooth eating breakfast of all things, and needed to get in to see a dentist as soon as possible. Thank goodness for my aunt Morgan, who swooped in to save the day.

Though I’m not entirely sure she saved much other than Carter and I, since it was definitely one of those days for mom. The kind that never ends even though you wish you could just go to bed and have it be tomorrow. The polar opposite of the kind of days you savor. The kind that when it rains it pours. Because when she got back to work, she was greeted by far more than she expected. Far more than she would be capable of catching up on in a day (let alone a month or two). For some, this would be an easy enough mountain to climb. Slow and steady. For mom, who cares so very deeply for doing the right thing even if it hurts, it was like a punch to the stomach.

I know as well as anyone she hates to let people down, and that is exactly what she felt like from the moment she got to back to work. She was letting Carter (and me) down because she left. She was letting her clients down because she couldn’t take care of them all at once. Ultimately, she let herself down because of letting all of this get to her.

Meanwhile, I was home monitoring the Carter situation and he was not happy. It started again yesterday – after days (or maybe weeks?) of fairly decent behavior, he started crying inexplicably. All the time. Morgan rocked him and sang to him and fed him and changed him and dressed him and nothing seemed to work. If I didn’t know better, I would say he and mom are on some sort of level emotional playing field. The way she has been crying the last couple of days mirrors his cries in a way I can’t think is a coincidence.

But it ended at 9:08 p.m. Baby Carter finally fell asleep. And mom and dad breathed a collective sigh of relief. Because let’s be honest. Sometimes there are days like this. Days with very little (if any) silver lining. Days that just plain run us down. When it rains it pours. But at least I know one thing for sure. That rainbow always follows the storm.

 

Riding in the Backseat March 14, 2014

This whole time I thought I had them both trained. Hoodwinked, if you will. In most respects, it is me they have trained, but not this one. This one was mine. This one I had in the bag. At least until today.

For almost four years, I have had my choice of seating on car rides. Front seat. Passenger seat. Back seat. They were all mine for the taking, regardless of what person of mine may be also occupying that spot. And it has been a variety of folks – from my great-grandparents to my new little person, it has been a variety of folks to share my place with. I just shove my cute little behind into the spot and give the person “the look” and they can’t say no.

That all changed today. Today I got in the car to discover some sort of seat contraption that appeared to be crafted in a way to limit my seating choices. The way it was installed communicated that I was to stay in the backseat regardless of my previous communication of appreciation for the front seat. I very much liked my spot with mom and/or dad in the commander seating that is the front seat and felt like I had been somehow disbarred.

That is until I remembered it isn’t just mom and dad anymore. Now it’s mom and dad and baby Carter. My little person. And he is safely secured in what I can only describe as an incredibly sturdy space shuttle of a car seat in the back seat I formerly despised.

I will be honest – I still prefer the front seat with my forever mom and dad. But at least the silver lining of this newly enforced regulation seems to be two fold. First, that dad insists its safer for me than if I were in front in the case there would be a crash. And second, that I get to be with my little person.

He’s not very aware yet, but he’s getting there. He’s started smiling responsively to my people, which makes them happy, which makes me happy. And I hope someday soon he responds to me like baby Alexis who smiles and giggles with glee in my presence.

Until then, I’m still happy to be sharing the backseat with him because I know there is more to it than that. From the backseat I can be his buddy. From the backseat I can be his friend. Really that is what matters in the long run. Amidst all that I can’t even remember why I cared about the front seat so much anyway.

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Now We Pray November 30, 2013

The house projects are finished. The nursery is ready. The diaper bag is even packed. At almost 34 weeks along, operation baby preparation seems to have come to a close.

I realized it as I watched in awe today as dad assembled something called a pack and play. I love all sorts of play, so I was sure to be at the ready for when playtime would start. But there was no playtime. At least not in the traditional sense of the word.

Once it was all put together, it appears to be (gasp!) another bed I can’t get into. Another place I wish I knew I could cuddle with my future little person that seems to be off limits. But something about this pack and play made my people happy. So I was happy even though we didn’t end up playing any sort of game.Now I Lay Me

Then it was quiet. A collective sigh echoed through the room. And then mom said it. “It’s bittersweet…it feels like everything’s done,” she said. “Now all we can do is wait.” They went on to talk more about this pack and play and how it will be a good place for the little person to sleep the first few months. Mom shared a story with dad about bedtime when she was growing up, and how her family used to pray together. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” the prayer began. It continued with blessings on all of mom’s loved ones.

In that moment, it’s like all three of our hearts and minds were one. We all seemed to realize it at the same instant. The house projects are finished. The nursery is ready. The diaper bag is packed. For all intent and purpose, operation baby preparation has come to a close. Except it hasn’t. Now (more than ever) we have so much more to do than wait. Now we pray. We pray for the baby to move off mom’s ribs. For continued healthy development. For a safe delivery for both mom and baby. And ultimately for a healthy baby. Now we pray.

 

Forever Starts Now November 26, 2013

It was no louder than a quiet whisper. And it’s impossible to explain what exactly it sounded like. I might have even imagined it. At least that’s what my head says. My heart, on the other hand, believes it to be true. I think I heard the baby today.

There we were, my forever mom and I, on the couch together. I was being what she fondly refers to as a snuggle bug when it happened. I don’t know if it was the heartbeat or a cry or what exactly I was hearing. But it was foreign to me and it was definitely coming from mom’s tummy. So I told my mind to shut up and let my heart do the thinking in that moment. It was the baby. My little person. Communicating. With me.

 All I could do was listen.Hi Baby

It came at just the right time, too. A friend of mom’s visited us today and said something that had been bothering me. “Just wait, little buddy, soon enough it’s not going to be about you anymore.” It’s not going to be about me? Well that simply won’t do. I felt my heart giving way to that all-too-familiar fear that I indeed will be replaced in the hearts of my people by this little person. That I won’t matter anymore.

Then it happened. I heard that little person and I knew mom’s friend had been right. It’s not going to be about me anymore. It’s going to be about us. Our family. I can handle that. And how blessed I am to start that relationship off on the right paw as early as this! Mom will be 33 weeks pregnant this week, and so far the only way she and dad have been able to hear the baby is through some sort of special machine they have at that doctor place.

It was pretty quiet and muffled and I honestly might have imagined it all. But us canines can hear in the ultrasound range (as much as three times better than humans). And I realized as I listened to whatever it was I was hearing just how blessed I am. I’ve said before how badly I want to be this little person’s best friend forever. The baby may not be here yet, but something certainly is. Friendship. Forever starts now.

 

You Tell Me November 24, 2013

Some people call me needy. I prefer loving. Compassionate. Loyal. There’s only one problem: I care what people think. There, I said it. And “needy” doesn’t exactly sound like a positive thing.

Yet I will be the first to admit I am a self-proclaimed doggie Olympic gold medalist at attention-seeking behavior. I cuddle into the tiniest crevice next to (all right, sometimes on top of) whomever will have me. I prefer to be a co-pilot on car rides rather than slum it in the back seat. Above all, I won’t rest until I’ve made someone smile. Counting Blessings

Sure, this external locus of control on self-esteem has its downsides. (Complete and utter failure come to mind). But the joy I feel in the moments I’m sharing joy with others more than makes up for that.

I thought of this today as I watched as my forever people bustled around the house. Today dad finally finished his long list of daddy nesting projects around the house. In his eyes, the house is officially ready for our new little person. Meanwhile, something called a car seat travel system got assembled, a diaper bag was put together, and baby clothes were washed and neatly folded away. I felt blessed to be a bystander in these moments. I watched it all unfold from the comfort of my doggie bed in the kitchen. And, in doing so, I became the richest doggie alive.

For 339 days, I have shared my thoughts with the world. My 365-day mission to share my unique perspective on joy (from the ground up) has almost come full circle. And today I realized perhaps one of the most important things I’ve come to know from my experience is myself. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve learned a lot about the way I think, the way I perceive the world around me, and the ways in which my “needy” title is actually a good thing.

“If you want to feel rich, count the gifts you have that money can’t buy.” I don’t actually know who said these words, but I do know how they make me feel. I’ve stumbled upon great fortune during this journey of self discovery. Some people call me needy. I prefer to see myself as an ambassador of great fortune to all who will take it. Joy. From the ground up, that is my gift to give. You tell me whether it’s worth taking.