Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Smiling Eyes January 24, 2015

I didn’t mean it. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know why it happened. And I’m sorry now.

I did a terrible thing last night. I know I can’t take it back, but I certainly wish I could. It was bath time, which I’ve recently shared has become something of an event around the halls of my forever home. It involves the nakie baby run down the hallway to the bathroom where bath time ensues before bedtime. It’s a whole lot of silliness that breeds joy, from the ground up. Morning love

Until last night. I don’t know what came over me really. One second, we were playing chase and the next minute he had little pink lines running down either side of his body. From me.

It’s important to note that I would never intentionally hurt him. Ever since the day he came home from the hospital all those months ago, I vowed to protect and love him as my own. That’s why I’ve survived the tail yanking, fur pulling and occasional eye gouging that has ensued with him since he figured out he loves me too.

So when I jumped on top of him as he journeyed down the hallway to the bathroom last night, I don’t know what got into me. But that didn’t matter. That doesn’t matter. Because those little pink lines running from his tummy to his calves on either side of his little man body were my fault.

My paws didn’t break skin. And he didn’t cry. But that doesn’t change the fact that I hurt my little person. We all went about the routine as usual, but I thought about it a lot afterward.

It’s terrible that it happened. I wish I could take it back. But sometimes you just can’t. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes we say and do things that hurt those we love. Intentions aside, the pain is real.

Fortunately for me so is forgiveness. After the initial disappointment from both of my beloved forever parents wore off, it was like nothing ever happened. And when Carter saw me for the first time when he woke up this morning, his face lit up just like it always does. “Doggie,” he said, with smiling eyes. And all was right in the world.

 

What A Heart Attack Feels Like December 10, 2014

Incorrigible. That is the only word I can think of to describe dear baby Carter today. He’s now perfected the skill of feeding me straight from his high chair, but that is something I can tell my dear forever people don’t particularly appreciate. Yet he and I carry on with what I’m understanding is apparently sassy behavior.

But that’s not all. A couple of months ago he started handing things over to mom and dad when they asked for it. Today, I watched in surprise as he gestured like he was going to hand whatever object that was being requested over, and then yank it back to his chest. Every single time, there was a devilish look in his eyes, like he knows he what he was doing is mischievous. Like anything, that is all well and good in moderation. He’s a good kid and I trust mom and dad will work with him to understand the difference between sassy and polite.The causer of heart attacks

What happened tonight on the other hand made my little doggie heart stop. I think I learned tonight what a heart attack feels like.

It was after dinner time and everyone was preoccupied with something. Mom, dad and I were all cleaning house in our own way (mine involved leftover peas) when it happened. The safety gate that is, for probably about 23 and a half hours of every day, always (always) up by the stairway was not in its usual place. And Carter noticed.

Time seemed to slow to a complete halt as we all saw the worst happen before our eyes. We all could picture exactly what would happen had dad not swooped in and grabbed Carter in the last second. It wasn’t willful defiance. It was childish ignorance. And it was terrifying.

As he learns to roam the world on two feet and clap when he’s happy and wave hello and goodbye, it’s easy to forget something pretty fundamental. He still has so very much to learn. Right now, it’s pretty simple – don’t attempt to journey downstairs until you know how. But there’s something about the incorrigible look in his eyes lately that tells me I don’t have to worry. I know I won’t be around to see him grow up, but I know his persistence will one day become strength. Knowledge will become power. And if he falls down life’s proverbial stairs, he will know where to go from there.

 

On Coming in Second August 10, 2014

I’ve heard of it happening with little people. Baby boys and girls who grow up to be big brothers and sisters. For some, it’s a walk in the park. For others, it’s not easy being the first child once they’re no longer the only one in the house. I guess you could say I fall into the latter category, an admission I struggle with since I prefer to err on the side opposite of melancholy.

Happy

Happy

Yet I will admit, that is what life has been for me the last seven months or so. Please don’t misunderstand – I mean no disrespect to dear baby Carter. But being the first “child” in the house has its disadvantages. I’ve gone from being the center of attention all the time in almost any living room I entered, to taking a supporting role. And it’s still one I can’t say I enjoy that much, what with Carter’s screeching noises and fur pulling tendencies. So I step aside, or in most cases choose to take my naps elsewhere in my forever house, which is definitely a bit sad for me because I do love being around people.

I realized today all of it makes me question my judgment from time to time. I’m a pretty spirited character and I have confidence in who I am. But that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to get a second opinion every once in a while. Especially if it’s from the person (or people) you love most.

It occurred to me today as mom finally got Carter to nap (he would much rather explore the world with his new-found mobility these days than spend a moment doing anything else). I had scurried away to one of my hiding spots in the house and she found me. And we have what I have frequently referred to as a love fest, where she tells me she loves me and scratches in all of my most itchy of places. As I looked in her eyes and saw the love and joy beaming down at me, I knew.

She still loves me just as much as she did before Carter came along. I’m still her little guy. And in that moment I realized I would rather be second place to her than first place to anyone else.

 

The Purest Joy May 22, 2014

It’s kind of a fluke when it happens. Yet every now and then again it does. I smile like a human. So I intend to burst no one’s proverbial bubble by sharing what I am about to say. However, I think someone famous once said something about the truth setting you free.

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Therefore, it is with a heavy heart and light spirit that I share with you my version of today’s truth. Dogs don’t smile like people do. There, I said it. I don’t think it is necessarily a secret, as there are a variety of ways us canines choose to show others the joy in our hearts. And (perhaps most infrequently) it is with what most people would equate with a smile.

Usually it’s a passionate wag of the tail. Or a heavy head working its way into someone’s hand. Or, sometimes, it happens and no person can detect it. That’s part of our doggie charm.

So lately I’ve been taken with something I’ve noticed in baby Carter. When he smiles, the world around him literally lights up. I don’t just say this through the eyes of love either. I say it because it is truth. His smiles are more contagious than any joy I could share. Seriously.

It obviously happens with my people all the time. They walk into a room, he smiles. They talk to him, he smiles. They laugh at him, he smiles. He smiles all the time these days.

But then there are other people. Strangers who don’t know him from any other baby. And here’s the thing. He smiles at them, they smile. They talk to him, he smiles. They laugh at him, he smiles.

That’s not even the best part. The best part is (by far) the fact that all of this smiling is happening in the first place. Again, as the resident ambassador of joy in the Schmidt house I at first found myself at a crossroads. I was happy the little tyke was sharing joy with people, yet I felt a teeny tiny bit jealous. That’s my job, after all.

But today, as I listened to mom and dad relive the happiness they encountered when they took dear baby Carter with them running errands, I was reminded. It’s not about me. Sure, I bring joy to the world in my own unique ways – which do not always involve smiling in a traditional sense – but that’s just how I roll.

Until not that long ago, it was kind of a fluke when it happened. As little as a couple of months ago, when baby Carter smiled, it was few and far between. But now when it happens, it’s magic. Not just for him, but for everyone around him. This brings me the purest joy I think I’ve ever known.

 

Never Letting Go May 20, 2014

I wasn’t expecting anything. Not with the baby around. And mom being really sick. And dad being distracted with work stuff.

So you can imagine my surprise when it happened. It wasn’t right away in the morning like usual, but it happened. And it absolutely made my day. Today I got my birthday present from the most unlikely of sources. It’s a moment for which I have been waiting for more than a year. And today, on the day we just so happen to celebrate my day of birth into this world, it happened.

Baby Carter reached for me this afternoon. Mom has been working with him on this basically since the day he was born. But alas, today he did it on his own accord. There he was, standing (with mom’s support of course) and he reached out and touched my face and my ears and my tail. I’m not going to lie, as much as I was looking forward to it, it was pretty scary when it actually happened.

Because let’s face it. Four-month-old babies have a death grip. It doesn’t matter whether its mom’s hair or his teething giraffe or mom’s necklace or dad’s arm. When they grab on to something, it’s for the long haul. So that’s what happened when he caught a handful of fur today. He grabbed on and would not let go.

And in that moment I realized that’s the best birthday present a doggie could ask for – a little person to grab onto and not let go. Sure, I enjoyed my customary ice cream cone and extra bits of attention from my people throughout the day. It was all especially nice because I truthfully wasn’t expecting anything. It’s not a special birthday, after all. Who celebrates turning six doggie years, anyway? Another (equivalent of seven people years) older was my first thought as I woke this morning.

But today I had a little person do what they do best. He grabbed on. And no matter how old I get I know one thing is for sure. I will never let that go.

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The Truth About Happiness May 14, 2014

There’s this problem I have with loneliness. It’s one thing when its you feel lonely. It’s something very different when it’s someone you love. I am struggling with something I didn’t know whether I should share. But she said I could, so I’m just going to say it.

Love.My mom’s dear friend Dorian has a problem. She loves. A lot. And that is not a problem as far as I’m concerned – far from it, in fact. But currently she is wrapping her heart around my dear little person Carter, and his new little buddy Noah. She loves them so much she could bite their little baby cheeks off. (Apparently this is a sign of love I don’t understand. I don’t ask questions.)

But it also makes her sad sometimes. Like tonight, when she came over to help mom make a lasagna for baby Noah’s mom. It was a happy time with a happy mission. But she was a little sad. I could see it. Mom could see it. And it bothered us both. Because if I’m being honest we don’t even have to ask what’s wrong. We just know because we love her so. (And maybe a little bit because she’s told us.)

She’s lonely. She wants what her two dear friends have. She wants a husband. And a baby (or three). And it makes her sad sometimes that she is single. She doesn’t have a boyfriend (at least at the moment), let alone a husband. This is not for lack of searching, believe you me. She is always on that thing called a (not-so) Smartphone talking with potential boyfriends on the Internet while she’s here. I can’t say I blame her. There are a lot of potential good things out there on this thing called the Internet.

But I have a theory about loneliness. And happiness. And most things emotional. Sometimes the harder you work at something natural, the harder it becomes to figure out. From the ground up, I am a believer in the power of not searching for these things. Because I think sometimes the harder we search, the harder things get to find. People call it trying too hard. I’m not sure you can ever really “try too hard,” but I do think there are adverse consequences when you do. Sometimes it’s a better strategy to stop looking. To stop trying. Because sometimes, I think that is when all things good make their way to you.

 

The Greatest Thing May 11, 2014

I think a lot of people think they know what’s coming. They’ve read the books. They’ve bought the supplies. They’ve been pregnant for nine months or ten or eight. I know the path to get there is different for everyone, but I think the outcome is the same. Or at least pretty similar.
No dogs allowed here. :(
Unconditional unspeakably sincere love. From the ground up, that is what I gather of motherhood. I’ve had a pretty vivid look into the ups and downs associated with this beloved title throughout the last few months. I would argue I’ve had the privilege of witnessing it for much longer than that, but when my dear little person was born – well, that sealed the deal.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been known to run away. To hide under the bed when the crying gets too much for me (or even when it’s slightly unbearable). I have this instinctual desire to make it better that balances itself with my selfish need to escape the situation. Mom has no such balance.

When baby Carter cries, it’s her instinct to heal what ails him. To fix it. Or at least to make it better somehow. The thing is it’s not always possible. Sometimes he just has a bad time of it. And I know this is certainly a very normal way to feel from time to time. I realized today it’s not that unlike the emotions I’ve seen mom encounter since she’s become a mother.

“Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing,” suggested American talk show host Ricki Lake. Certainly I’ve come to agree with both statements.

But I can’t say mom would. Regardless of the nine months of not-so-pleasurable pregnancy. The sleepless nights that followed. The breastfeeding (which I won’t even get into, because it was that hard an experience to watch at first). All of it. It has been far from easy. The opposite of great. Then there are those moments. The precious moments I am sure to participate in as frequently as possible.

I think a lot of people think they know what’s coming. But I’m not sure anything can fully prepare them for the snuggles. The smiles. The giggles. The developmental milestones he seems to be hitting well before what is considered to be the “norm.” These are all of the greatest things that more than snub out the hardest things.

 

On Making Mistakes May 8, 2014

It’s happened to the best of us. We looked back on something and thought to ourselves “self, that was not the best idea.” That was absolutely the wrong thing to do in that situation. That was a mistake.

But as I am in the business of not having any regrets, I have come to view such things as important (and almost necessary) pieces of anyone’s life puzzle. I do say this with some authority in the matter, as I (not unlike most characters) have a past worth considering. I’ve made questionable decisions.

My Napping BuddyLike the day I defended myself (and my dear little person at the time named Jo) against the man with the leather belt. And the time I jumped the fence in my attempt to escape from my first (failed) adoptive home in Port Washington. Or, most recently, the time I chased that rabbit around the neighborhood of my grandma’s house the night before mom had baby Carter. I gave my poor beloved forever mom an emotional heart attack that night that I still wish I could take back.

I’m not sure why I relived all of these images in my daydreams today. Or at least I wasn’t until I noticed something dear Carter did. One minute he was there in his jumping gismo, happy as ever. The next, he was not. He tried to get his big ole baby foot out of the jumper and ended up in a very uncomfortable position. Not sure whether he’ll make that mistake again.

But I suppose that is indeed the point of it all. Because let’s be honest. It has happened to the best of us. We’ve all done things in life that we find questionable later. Things we wish we could take back. Things we deem to be mistakes.

But, as usual, I agree with Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who challenged that “a life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing.” I think sometimes we need to make these mistakes to remind ourselves where we are at in life. We need to make these mistakes to remember the lessons from them. We need to make these mistakes to live.

 

He Looked At Me May 3, 2014

The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune. This is one of four definitions on a sign I noticed in baby Carter’s room tonight. It seems an appropriate set of people words to reference today, after the day our family had. It’s downright silliness really.

The best part was (of course) that I was involved in mostly everything that happened. This is not always the case anymore, since all things Carter took over about four month ago. I don’t complain about such things as I have come to be quite fond of my alone time under the bed of my forever people. Day or night, it has become by safe haven from all things baby. I know it sounds terrible but I don’t care. Sometimes you just need some time away.

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This has certainly not been the case for my dear forever mom, who just can’t seem to get enough of the crying, spitting, pooping thing that is my dear little person. But I digress.

Because today it doesn’t matter. None of it does. None of the crying, spitting, pooping messiness that is babies matters. Because today we had that emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune. Today my distaste for “smart” phones went on holiday. For today we had joy. From the ground up, it was everywhere today. It was in this new-fangled hanging jumper thingy for Carter. It was in the car ride we all took to go for a walk. It was in the moment when Carter looked at me.

He really looked at me. And I saw so many things in his big brown eyes. I saw love and joy and hope and a future filled with all of these things. I might be biased, but I happen to think my dearest little person is pretty darn adorable.

Aside from any of the not-so-adorable things he does. And aside from the time I choose to spend away from any of it. He showed me a new side of him today. A side I knew was there, but had yet to see. He is a little person indeed. He may cry, but he also smiles. He may fuss, but he also jumps with glee. He may make stinky things (like spit and poop and burps and foofters), but…well, these things I don’t mind.

Not to mention how happy he makes my beloved forever people. The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune. To be honest, we needed none of this today. Because today we had each other. From the ground up, that is all that mattered in these precious moments.

 

The End of The Tunnel April 27, 2014

I’m sure it looks different for everyone. In its various forms, the darkness has a way of encompassing us sometimes. Be it in a job we hate. Or a project that never ends. Maybe in a toxic relationship. Or, in the case of this four-legged life lover, the foe otherwise known as winter. It was awfully nasty this year, despite the bundle of joy it delivered into the lives of my family. (Thank goodness for that!)

Seriously though. Between the record low temperatures, and the snow sneezes that kept coming down on us every couple of days, it was a pretty epically horrendous winter in Wisconsin. And that’s coming from someone who knows winter in Wisconsin. Not to mention someone who makes a point of not complaining about things. I seek to find the good in all people, places and things, and all this talk about terrible weather has certainly not been filled with much (if any) of my usual silver-lining perspective.

Until now. Because the other day it was 70 degrees for the first time in seven months. It was gorgeous outside. And I got to spend time reveling in it all with my beloved family in my backyard paradise. That’s when I realized something I guess I’ve always known but never really paid attention to about that light at the end of the tunnel.

It is so very important because it keeps us going. It motivates us to be better. To do better. To live better. Because it’s always there, guiding the way. But maybe more importantly, the wait is always worth it. Sometimes the longer the struggle, the higher the mountain, the darker the times – the more sincere the joy is when you reach the end. When you reach the light.

That’s certainly how I felt the other day as my whole family laughed together and I wagged and they laughed and none of us knew which came first. I know it looks different for everyone. It happens at different times and varying frequencies for all of us. And I don’t think it’s ever the same twice. Except maybe it is in that one crucial way. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to focus to see it.

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