One morning last week, in the crisp-ish Fall air, I took our puppy, Oliver for a walk/run in the park not too far from our house. There is a long and dusty or muddy (depending on how much rain we have or haven’t had lately) trail that circumvents the playgrounds, basketball courts and duck pond. We made our way around it two times, running for about half of that. He wanted to chase every squirrel that came within his gaze and the people we passed commented on “how cute” he is. It is so true. He is extremely cute. I might be biased but I don’t think so.
As we ended our walk we made our way closer to the pond. I wanted Oliver to check out the ducks and see how he would react to them. He was like “aw, whatever, they’re just ducks, where’s the squirrels???”
He also made a few dog friends along the way. Turns out butt-sniffing is still a thing with dogs. 😉
At one point we came upon a cute family of four – Dad, Mom, toddler and baby in a sling around the mother’s front.
When I tell you that Oliver is irresistible to the little people, I mean it. Yes, the big ones too, but especially the little ones. I assume because A) He is so cute and B) he is at their level.
Immediately upon seeing Oliver the little boy came bounding toward us saying, “Puppy, puppy” and the mother chased behind as she grasped the bottom of her baby and the sling with one hand.
“You can pet him,” I said. “He is very friendly”.
In the same moment the little guy knelt down and was accosted with multiple kisses on his chubby little face from my dog. His Dad laughed and the little boy smiled from ear to ear, giggling and squinting his eyes like we all do when a dog licks our face.
Both of the little creatures delighted in each other for a few moments and then we went our separate ways.
“Have a good day,” both the mother and I chimed, as we walked in opposite directions.
When you’re alone with your puppy and it’s a beautiful day and you have an experience like that you start to think. At least I do.
Those days are over for me.
No more babies in a sling. No more toddlers to squish the cheeks of. The park is no longer just for feeding the ducks (that’s boring now) and enjoying every little thing my babies point out with dimpled fingers. I no longer have a precious baby or toddler for strangers to swoon over. Instead it has simply become a place where I walk or run with my dog while all the kids are in school.
Lately I’ve been surrounded by these reminders – at the grocery store, the doctor’s office, anywhere moms show up with their babies. And it’s not that they make me sad really, just nostalgic. There is a longing for those days again. I believe most of us mothers are engineered that way, to feel those feelings again and to remember. At least the sweet, romantic parts of them. I am more than happy to leave the potty-training and super tantrum-ing parts behind.
And then the realization smacks me like a kickball to the face! For a moment I was “daydreaming on the field” but in the next moment I am stunned into reality. Suddenly I know those things will NEVER be a part of my present again, only my past. My own “babies” are no longer and growing by the hour. The “ball” bounces off of me and I smile, laugh even. It rolls away and I let it go. I know to let the new parents experience all these things. I let them do their best to relish in the present, both sweet and messy, all at the same time. It is now their game to play.
And as I walk away with my puppy I realize I have my new baby with me. I’ve moved on to being a dog mom too and he will be with me as they grow, licking my face and letting me know that even though the time marches on, everything will be fine. He will be around when they start asking for the keys and when boys start showing up in K’s “selfies”. He will be the one still snuggling me in the bed when the rest have long decided that is not something they should do anymore, at least not for very long.
He will be the one, that even though he is not into feeding the ducks, joins me at the park as people swoon over him. And I will find joy in seeing every new baby and toddler who thinks he is the bees knees and squeals when he licks their face.
P.S. Have you heard?!?! An essay I wrote will be published in the third volume of Precipice from Bannerwing Books. The topic of the book is “Boundaries”. I am elated to have a piece of my writing PUBLISHED!! If you would like to pre-order the book you can go HERE, it comes out November 17th! If you want a print copy those will be out December 1st. I cannot WAIT to hold a copy in my hands! Thank you all for supporting my writing and many others’ who are in the book as well!