Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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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A Sea of Gray March 13, 2014

Apparently it’s normal. But I’m not going to lie, it is kind of freaking me out. I haven’t seen mom cry this much (this randomly) since the last time we watched Marley and Me. Which, coincidentally was today. (Probably not the best idea, given her tender emotional state).

I’m just glad it doesn’t seem to involve me. Or at least it didn’t, until I involved myself. She was crying tonight (for what seems like the millionth time in the last 48 hours) as she rocked baby Carter to sleep because it’s the last time she will do so on a weeknight before she’s working again. It seems a silly reason to me, since it will clearly not be the last time she rocks my dear little person to sleep. But its all going to be different now, she told dad. This Too Shall Pass

It has definitely become one of those lose-lose situations for dad and I, since neither of us can seem to say or do anything to help. So he did what he does best and gave her a hug and a kiss on the forehead and told her we have a lifetime of nights like this ahead of us. Which made her cry more. So I did what I do best and shoved my way into the love fest. Which made her cry more. You see? Lose-lose situation.

But as I thought more about it, it’s not so much the situation itself that seems to be causing these emotions. It’s the thought of transition. The fear of the unknown. I know it all too well. As a family we have been in flux for some time now waiting for the baby to arrive and living through the first precious months, and now moving on with life involves a different kind of change. Transition. From the ground up, it can be a pretty scary thing.

It reminds me a bit of the situation in our backyard right now. As much as I love snow, I cannot stand what it looks like in transition. It’s sloppy and goopy and (worst of all) an awful dreary mixture of gray and brown. A sea of gray. Not to mention the stuff underneath that apparently used to be grass. Now it just looks like mushy brown death.

Just as this is a normal occurrence, apparently this emotional struggle mom is encountering is also fairly common. But here’s the important thing. Eventually all of the gray snow melts away. The grass doesn’t stay brown and sloppy forever. In just a few weeks time, it will be vibrant and beautiful again. My backyard paradise will be restored. The same can be said for this time we are in right now – it’s messy and emotional and that’s okay. Because I know in my heart these fears will be brought to purpose and the sun will shine again.

 

 

Remembering The Before February 28, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 10:47 pm
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It seems like a given. Like one of those things that is simply understood. No words required. But sometimes I don’t think that’s enough. For the last year or so, our threesome (dad, mom and I) has been evolving to include baby Carter. First while mom was pregnant, and especially now that he’s here, he comes first.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Nor do I feel jealous of the attention. But I have noticed something – a change in how mom and dad interact with and treat each other. They’ve gone from simply being husband and wife to being parents. And let’s face it – that involves a whole other job description.Family Love

Not to mention how easy it is to get lost in the eat, wake, sleep cycle of a newborn. It’s easy to forget the before. The before when it was just mom and dad and their love for each other (and me, of course). The before when all they had was each other, in sickness and in health, ’til death does them part. All that has changed (for the better now), but that doesn’t negate what they had before.

So I was overjoyed tonight when they went on a date – their first since Carter was born almost two months ago. They left Carter and I in the kind and loving hands of a friend to go to their favorite restaurant for dinner. It was hardly an extravagance, but it didn’t need to be. It reminded them of the before and how much that still means in the now.

It all got me to thinking of how important it is to not get too caught up in routines and life’s diaper changes. How much it means to remember the loved ones who make it all possible. Moreover, the special chosen circles of trust that make life a better place to live. Because it seems like a given. And when there is so much going on around us, it might be simply understood. No words required. But that doesn’t mean actions aren’t necessary every now and then to show we still care. And all things that seem like a given began as just that – a gift.

 

Stupid Is As Stupid Does February 25, 2014

I used to think it was pretty cool to be a know-it-all. Worse than that, I thought I did know it all. That is, until I realized I didn’t. The older I get, the more I realize how much there really is to learn. In reality, I know nothing in the greater context of everything.

This came to mind tonight as the story I was going to share shaped into something completely different. The evening started off better than most, with lots of laughter and love. Mom and dad enjoyed dinner together, after which dad showed an above average interest in spending time with baby Carter. He rocked him and talked to him and played with him. Meanwhile, Carter cooed and smiled and seemed to be having the time of his life while mom and I sat by and watched the scene unfold. It was like something from a movie.

Us Against The WorldUntil it wasn’t. None of us will ever know why it happened, but Carter started crying. Mom and dad ran through all the usual suspects – he’s not hungry because he just ate, he’s not wet because we just changed him, he doesn’t have a fever and all four limbs are still well attached. So what could possibly be wrong? It was kind of a devastating turn for the worse but I was still kind of surprised by what happened next. (Especially when you consider the truth – this is normal baby behavior. Every now and then they cry. It happens. We’ve been over this).

Tension built and they turned on each other. Mom and dad got upset. With each other. Even though I know (and they know) it was completely unnecessary for them to do so. In reality, they were simply sharing in frustration and confusion and exhaustion and it all just caught up with them. But I realized something. Dad said something he’s said more than once before about not being good with babies. About not knowing what he’s doing. To which mom responded that she doesn’t know what she’s doing either.

I’m hardly a know-it-all, but in this situation all I wanted to do was raise my little doggie paw to correct them both. They may not know everything about parenting a newborn. But they’re doing great. It’s okay not to know what you’re doing sometimes. It’s okay to learn as you go. And (perhaps most importantly) it’s a blessing that they have each other to learn with. They can work through challenges together and celebrate success together. They can learn together. And they have.

They did it again tonight when they brought the argument to a quick and (fairly) painless close. Because it’s not always about knowing it all.  Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is admit you don’t know everything.

 

From Now On February 24, 2014

It’s the same thing every night. Eat, bathe, cuddle, sleep. I don’t know about baby Carter, but its a routine with which I could get pretty comfortable. My role in all of it is pretty minimal. I usually oversee the bathing process and lay patiently on the rug I know is just for me in Carter’s room while mom rocks the baby to sleep. Soothing sounds fill the room and I frequently drift off to dreamland myself, albeit temporarily.

Tonight was different. Tonight I put my paw down. I’ve had enough of this cuddling business not involving me so I quit laying idly by. Instead I hopped myself right onto the tiny portion of lap mom has to spare on the rocking chair and laid myself down. I stopped watching and started living (or, more accurately, cuddling) in that moment. And it was grand. Is it cuddle time yet?

Baby CarterI was quite comfortable drifting into dreamland there in our cuddle bubble. What happened next took me by surprise given the intense feelings of joy I felt just a few moments prior. It was Carter’s 12th birthday (in people years, not dog years) and he was blowing out the candles on the cake. I waited patiently to see myself, pestering my way into the mix to get a lick of frosting as I tend to do. But I never came. I wasn’t there to see Carter turn 12.

The image jolted me right out of dreamland and back to reality. And (for once) I’m so glad it did. Because there I was, cuddling with my forever mom and my little person. Joy. From the ground up, it overwhelmed my little doggie heart in those precious moments together.

Because my dream tonight contained within it a wake up call. There is a chance I will still be around to get that lick of frosting after all. But it’s more likely I won’t.

Eat, bathe, cuddle, sleep. It’s the same thing every night and promises to be that way for the foreseeable future. Some might see it as monotonous, but (as is typical to us canines) I find routines soothing. They bring order to a world that can seem chaotic at times. In those moments, those precious moments, the world is exactly as it should be. I think I will be sneaking my way into cuddle time more often from now on.

 

Everything’s Going To Be All Right February 17, 2014

I dropped the ball today. It was kind of like that movie scene where you see what’s coming before it happened. I saw it and then it happened. One minute Carter and I were lounging together comfortably. The next he was rolling.

It’s my doggie understanding that rolling behavior from a seven-week-old baby is normally something to be celebrated. Its something of a developmental marker the doctors tell new parents to monitor. Except when it happens like this.On the ottoman

We were on the ottoman together. And then we weren’t. I saw it and then I heard it. The pain cry, as mom has come to call it. Usually it happens when he accidentally scratches his face or something. This was different. Mom was coming back from the bathroom when it happened.

And in that moment I think we both felt like failures. Me, because I couldn’t stop the inevitable from happening. Mom, because she took her eyes off the situation in time of need. So she swooped him up and I was at the ready to do whatever I needed to do to help. I stayed underfoot (a place I can’t say I was entirely welcome in this situation) as mom paced and swayed with him and called the doctor.

My mind raced hopelessly with all of the most terrible of outcomes. My heart skipped a beat when he stopped crying a few minutes later. In a complete emotional frenzy, I kissed him all over just as soon as it was physically possible to do so. And then came a very powerful message from the doctor’s office. Doing what I can to help

It’s the first time, but it won’t be the last that he does something we’re not expecting. And it’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay. I heard the nurse say it, and I heard mom repeat it (a few times) before I released the breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. It’s going to be okay. Even though I dropped the ball, he is going to be okay.

It’s a powerful message to be sure, yet I think we all need to hear it from time to time. Sometimes we don’t even know how badly we need to hear it until we hear the words out loud. Until we release the breath we didn’t realize we’d been holding. But that’s only the first part of the puzzle.

The second is in believing it. These things happen sometimes. It’s like those movie scenes when you see what’s coming before it happens. And then it does. In this case the scene that follows is looking good – there don’t seem to be any warning signs that the fall had any negative impact whatsoever. So for now we have no choice. When all else fails we need to believe everything’s going to be all right.

 

Mind Over Matter January 14, 2014

We thought we were so smart. Reading all those books, blogs and message boards. Doing all that research. Getting the nursery ready. Well, mom did at least. I knew better. I knew that baby Carter would write his own book. And he has not disappointed.

Me and My BuddyHis nights and days are flip flopped. Sometimes he cries when there is nothing to cry about. And then he smiles in his sleep about who knows what. I’ll be honest. I know nothing about babies. Absolutely nothing, other than what I’ve heard my forever mom and dad discuss between themselves, and the odds and ends advice they’ve gotten from the visitors in the last couple of weeks.

But I do know this. From what I can tell, my dear little person is every bit of the blessing I knew he would be. He is strong. He is healthy. He sleeps enough. Mom and dad love him. He’s pretty darned great. And I’m proud of him. I’m proud to call him my puppy brother.

I was thinking about this today as we had more visitors who had all kinds of advice for mom. I watched as she soaked it in. I saw the determination in her eyes as she even put a couple of the tips into action at bedtime tonight. She wants so badly to do everything right.

And I want so badly to tell her she can’t. She will mess up. I know because she made her fair share of mistakes with me (don’t tell her I told you). But look at me. I turned out all right. And Carter will too.

As British politician Sir Winston Churchill suggested “success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” It doesn’t matter what all those books, blogs and message boards say. Mom won’t do everything right. But she has courage. That’s what matters to me.

 

If I Were a Human December 28, 2013

I wonder sometimes what I would be like if I had two legs instead of four. If I walked amongst people as one of their own. If I could carry on a normal conversation instead of relying (almost) entirely on nonverbal communication.

In these thoughts I find I am not so concerned with what I look like (though I’m sure I’d be blonde haired and brown eyed) or what kind of clothes I would wear. I don’t think it would matter to me what kind of car I drove, or how big my house was. Would I? Money Can't Buy Love

I daydreamed today that I was human and won the lottery. And not just the $3 dad occasionally wins and splits with his work friends as part of their weekly lottery pool. I won big time. One billion dollars. What would I do with such winnings?

In my daydream, I bought everything my people ever wanted. That house in a better school district. Those fancy shoes mom is always lusting after. The Shelby Mustang dad dreams about. The honeymoon they never took. I bought it all and there was still plenty leftover to donate to some of my favorite charities (like the humane society and ISF) and invest in something that would produce enough income to allow mom to stay home with the little person. (Dad too, if he wanted).

As I daydreamed, my people were away dreaming a dream of their own. Dad has been on a mission to replace their cars with what he refers to as newer safer ones. Words like reliability and dependability seem to have gained a new level of importance now that the little person is on his or her way any day now. But upon returning home it didn’t take me long to see the disappointment in their faces. This dream can’t come true. Not right now.

And I found myself wondering again what I would be like with two legs instead of four. Would I need the lottery and all the fancy things it could provide? Or would I prefer to earn an honest living as a struggling author who volunteers at the local animal shelter on the weekends?

I’m quite certain there is no right answer. And all of this is made much more complicated by my overall lack of understanding of how the whole money thing even works. I don’t know what I would be like if I were human any more than my people know what it would be like to win the lottery. And tonight as we three musketeers settled in together to watch a movie I realized that’s okay. Because we’re happy this way.

Besides, “greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction,” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. It doesn’t matter whether I have two legs or four. I’d much rather live life happy than in endless pursuit. Keep your money, bottomless pit. It’s happiness I choose.

 

A Lesson In Sacrifice December 23, 2013

Disgruntled, disheveled and exhausted. Or in other words crabby. That’s how mom came home today from that place called work. Apparently her mood was reflective of the majority of the folks with whom she came into contact today. People who wanted things done. Now. Unless yesterday is possible, in which case they would prefer that.

The truth is, on a day like today, you are only one person who can really only do one thing: your best. I got the impression that’s what she did, but it sure took its toll on her emotions. She looked like she could cry the moment she walked in the door. And my keen attentiveness to such things informs me this would most definitely not have been tears of joy.

Watching and waitingThat’s when it happened. Just as she came through the door, dad stepped up to the plate. He took one for the team. I was ready with all my usual tactics for brining joy into a room and dad beat me to it. He swept her away to some place immediately upon her arrival home and when they returned they were laughing. No more almost tears. It was really something to see.

What mom doesn’t know is dad had a rough day too. He didn’t sleep much last night either. He’s overcome with worry of his own about all things pregnancy and labor and baby related. I’ve even been guilty of forgetting this in the last nine months. But none of that mattered in those crucial moments when mom got home. He pushed everything he was feeling aside to bring joy to mom.

I never really have to do such things. Sure, I worry and have my own things that evoke fear and stress. But for me, bringing joy to the lives of others rarely (if ever) involves sacrifice. The way I see it its ingrained in me as my work in my forever home. Except it’s not work because I love it so much. It’s part of what I’m meant to do.

Dad, on the other hand, definitely sacrificed his own thoughts and emotions to support mom tonight. And I’m proud of him. “If you want to be loved, be lovable,” suggested ancient Roman poet Ovid. Mom certainly wasn’t lovable upon returning home from that place called work today. Regardless of the reasons, she was an emotional wreck. But dad loves and cared for her anyway. And it worked. That’s the thing about selflessness – it tends to do the trick every time.

 

Survival in the Real World December 14, 2013

It’s a pretty crazy world out there. Yesterday was Friday the 13th and (though neither of them believe in the meaning of such things), both my mom and dad came home regaling a series of unfortunate events involving unexpectedly odd amounts of crazy. Their stories were incredibly different, yet one thing bound them together. Negativity. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough heart to practice common courtesy around others.

Going Somewhere?Mom would never have expected that nicely dressed elderly woman to literally push another woman out of the way over a bar of luxury bath soap. But it happened. Dad didn’t believe his eyes when he witnessed a near hit-and-run accident in the parking lot over a spot that was literally five feet away from the next closest spot. Wherever that person was going sure must have been important.

Regardless of the source, this negativity thing is like it’s very own breed of pollution. Its own unique type of noise that keeps us from hearing the music. And it sneaks up on you in the oddest of ways to tear away at your resolve. To bring you down. And ultimately to make you weak. It’s all so frustrating to me. I would much rather be strong. And I can be, when I am armed with the most powerful weapon.

Optimism keeps me strong. As milk is to bones, optimism is to my soul. So when I think about what can be done to reverse the pollution in our society, I think it comes down to us. The fighters. The people who resolve to retain a positive outlook amidst life’s most challenging curve balls.

“Negativity is an addiction to the bleak shadow that lingers around every human form,” proposed Irish poet John O’Donohue. “You can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul.”

It can be pretty crazy out there. It’s enough to make me second guess my occasional bitterness that I am not allowed to accompany my people to literally everywhere outside our forever home. But negativity has no place in my home, nor out there in the world. Because the real world is what we make it, not what it tells us it should be.