Dog Gone It

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

So, we maybe, might, possibly, probably, sort of are considering getting a dog.  Before any of you start sending me Cesar Milan books or tell me which Pinterest dog board I should be following, let's all take a step back and just contemplate this decision.  Rather, read my rant about all these pros and cons and feel free to weigh in as you deem necessary.

Whew.  This seems like a big decision to me.  And, it is!  I mean, I understand that owning a pet is a serious commitment that lasts years and years and requires attention, money, and energy...none of which I have a superfluous amount of these days.  But, I also have a new, big, fenced-in yard and two feisty children who would dote on a new creature to play with in their outdoor adventures.

We currently have two indoor cats, though I have never considered our family exclusively "cat people".  It's just that we've lived in apartments forever, so the dog issue has been off the table until now.  And, as I peruse the local shelter websites and the photos of dogs of all kinds...well, there's no denying why they call it "puppy dog eyes" and I start to feel my heart strings tug and can hear Sarah MacLaughlin singing in the back of my head.

Maybe I'm a sucker for cute puppies.  Maybe I'm trying to stave off baby fever.  Maybe I'm trying to justify this new concept of yard-ownership with giving it a full-time resident.  Or, maybe I just like the idea of giving my girls exposure to the friendship, responsibility, and life-cycle of what it means to care for another.  As you can see, there is most likely some dog somewhere inevitably waiting to become a Pardy.

But, here's something else for us all to ponder...

As I've asked around to friends, family, strangers, shelter-owners, etc. for their insight and advice for dog ownership, one common sentiment has been expressed again and again and again:  It's a lot of work.

My initial thought is "Um, you know I keep two humans alive, right?"  Sure, I know that kids are different from dogs.  And, I'm not insulted by the remark at all.  As condescending as it may sound, I totally understand that pet owners genuinely want to convey the importance of the commitment being made, and that real life with a dog looks differently than the Pedigree dog food commercials make it out to be.

The "lots of work" comment has been followed up by several pieces of [albeit, very welcome] advice regarding what kind of dog to get.  I want this information.  I've asked for it, and I am interested in continuing to research different breeds/mixes and meet a variety of dogs before landing on a fit for our family.  However, it made me laugh out loud when I considered this notion concerning a human baby.

What if I had asked "We're thinking about having another baby - parents, weigh in!  What do you think?"  If you consider the same depth of concern regarding the answers I might get, it might look something like this:
Another baby would be cute, but be sure you get one that sleeps through the night!
Yes - but, get one already potty trained.
Don't do it!  They are so much work and you already have a full plate. 
What if it bites your children?  That's hard to discipline.

What if it grows up to be ugly?
What if it becomes sick later and needs extensive care or attention?

Be sure you don't get one that talks too much.
Remember, the bigger the baby, the bigger the poop.
What will you do with it if you want to take a vacation?
What if your girls don't like the new baby?

All valid considerations!  Ha.  But no one would EVER tell me those things regarding a baby.  And, as we all know, not all pregnancies are considered this much prior to their arrival.  Let's face it, surprises do happen!  Can you imagine if pet ownership happened that way?  What if you got a letter in the mail today that said:
Congratulations!  You've been selected to get a new dog in 6 months!  Get ready now - you will need food, water, and many veterinary bills to prepare for.  You can register at PetSmart to be sure you get the supplies you need.  There's no telling if this is a good dog or not, but you will definitely be stuck with it for a very long time.  It might keep you up at night, but it will probably love you very much.  Good luck!

It's a strange world we live in.  It's a luxury for us to even get to consider rescuing a dog and calling it our own.  Maybe we will get one soon and it will be a terrible fit.  Maybe we will wait and get one later and it will be a perfect match.  Or maybe, we'll just do the best we can and figure it out as we go and keep asking for advice and prayer along the way!

One thing is for certain...I'm glad and thankful I didn't get this much input when it came to picking out my kids.  [Thanks, God!] Yes, I would rather have a child who sleeps every night through the night and always remembers to thank me when I feed her.  But, then, she wouldn't be who she is without her spunky spontaneity and charisma for sass.

I have a feeling that if/when we get a dog, it will imperfectly fit into our imperfect family just fine.

*If you have dog advice, please feel free to weigh in!  Just because we're crazy doesn't mean we're ignorant.  

Let's Talk GIVEAWAY!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Us moms gotta stick together, right?  Whether we're reassuring each other that it's okay you drove through McDonald's again that week, or sharing how your child threw a Oscar-worthy tantrum in the middle of Target, we need to connect through honest stories and open hearts.

Caption THIS for a chance to win today's GIVEAWAY!
MOPs has been a great resource for many of us moms out there.  Not only do they connect mothers in person - but, did you know they can connect moms from near and far as well?

MOPs has an awesome new webinar series they're starting up called Let's Talk, Darling and it is bound to be chalk-full of encouragement, fun facts, healthy tips, and honest-to-goodness vulnerable moments that each of us need to hear about.

In fact, there's a new webinar premiering TODAY, April 17th at 10am (MST) hosted by Kathi LippKathi is a full-time speaker and writer as well as being the parent of four young adults with her husband, Roger in San Jose, CA. When she is not doing laundry, she is speaking at retreats, conferences and women's events across the US.

Kathi is also the author of many articles and books including The Husband Project:  21 Days of Loving Your Man, On Purpose and with a Plan.  If that sounds too good to be true, then I'd encourage you to read it for yourself and accept the privilege of falling in love with your hunky hubby all over again! 

And today on PARDYMAMA could be your chance to get a copy of Kathi's book for FREE!

Caption the funny photo at the top of this post in the comments section below, and the best caption will get The Husband Project GIVEAWAY!  How cool is that?  

Now...what do you think these mom friends might be thinking, saying, or chatting about on this fine day????  Be funny, original, or downright HONEST and you could win a copy of Kathi's book!  GOOD LUCK!

And, while you are chatting with your own mom friends today - don't forget to mention MOPs new webinar!  It's sure to stir up some much-needed adult conversations (you know, other than discussing what happened on Curious George last week!)  

Ugly Easter

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I just googled "Easter".  I don't know why I'm surprised, but I find it discouraging that it took 40 images of bunnies, eggs, and candy before an image of the cross appeared.  Really?  Forty chicks and ducks and pastel colored whatchamacallits before stumbling upon an image reminiscent of the true meaning of Easter?

I love Easter.  I've loved it since the spring of my childhood when I can remember picking out white patent leather shoes and a new dress to wear to church for Easter Sunday.  I love the traditions of the holiday, from the creepy guy dressed up in the giant bunny suit (okay, not that as much maybe) to the brightly colored eggs hidden across a fresh green lawn just waiting for children to find.  I love the meal, the family gathering, the baskets, the candy, and all the fresh, spring-timey colors that help announce warmth and light are risen indeed.

 But, as a Christian, I can't love all the beauty of Easter without also falling in love with the gore behind it.  Lest I forget that the first Easter began as a horror story; a confusing, unjustifiable nightmare that real, live people witnessed and took part in.  I can not turn my face to the sun without acknowledging the darkness behind us.   Good Friday is just a few days away, and I can't help but imagine what that first holy week felt like for so many.

Easter sermons, reading the Bible, and even watching films that depict the crucifixion allow us to know and imagine much of what happened leading up to Jesus' death.  I have a hard time grasping the reality of what Jesus endured because it is just so unfathomable as a human.  But, when I look at the faces of his friends, when I imagine the heart of his mother, Mary, I shudder at the thought of how utterly human they were in those moments.  While Jesus was 100% human, he was also 100% God; something that I'm very limited in empathizing with.

But, I can much more easily relate to those who witnessed the death of the Messiah, and it is very nearly equally unfathomable.  As many questions as we have today about faith and theology, can you imagine how confusing it must have been for them back then?  Not knowing what was going to happen to Jesus???  I can't imagine it!  The truth is, that first Easter wasn't pristine and celebrated with lilies and new dresses.  That first Easter was ugly and confusing right up until the very last moment.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!

Today, we have the luxury of learning the story of Easter from the end to the beginning.  We celebrate the resurrection because we know He died on the cross three days prior; but, I take for granted the fact that there was a time when people didn't know that.  There was a time when Jesus was dead.  There was a time when Jesus was mourned for.  There was a time when Jesus was gone.  I can't understand that.  I can't emotionally grasp what that must have been like.  I never want to know that feeling, and I'm grateful I didn't have to endure it.

Instead, we have the immense privilege of remembering on Good Friday and not enduring.  We don't have to ever live without the knowledge that JESUS IS ALIVE and nothing will every change that.  And while we get distracted by the ham, the flowers, the egg hunts, and shiny shoes...let's not forget this weekend that we are so insanely blessed to live in this time and space where we can grasp the entire story of Easter and its true meaning.

As you're stuffing candy into little plastic eggs, as you're picking out your Sunday best, and as you're Pinteresting those last minute recipes, set aside a moment to slow down and remember the entirety of Easter.  It might take 40 images to get to the cross on google, but it only takes one prayer to transport me right back at the feet of Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for the cross.  Thank you for bearing what I can not.  Thank you for taking on the worst parts of me, the stuff I don't even realize, the stuff I never reveal, the stuff I can never admit.  Thank you for providing a way for me to know God, eternally.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally, choosing to endure every pain possible over letting me go.  Thank you for the grace you offer so freely and so undeservingly.  Keep me humble, God.  Keep me patient.  Keep me remembering.  Keep me present at Your feet.  Thank you for Easter.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Just another day in paradise.
Nobody goes into motherhood for the glamour.  I mean, don't get me wrong, the dream exists of being woken up by butterfly kisses from your little one, images of making pancakes together in the morning, and taking long stroller-walks on sunny days.

Sure, there's an "elite" sort of quality about getting to stay home with the children you brought into the world...but, that ideal is quickly replaced by reality the first time you get spit-up on in the middle of the night or find yourself throwing chicken McNuggets in the backseat just to get a moment's peace.

We are tough cookies, us moms, and while our beauty may squelch Sports Illustrated models on the inside, our outsides rarely reflect the soul-crushing sacrifices we make in the name of love day-in and day-out.
There's just not much glamour in motherhood.

As I pour my third cup of coffee for the day (this, being hours and hours since I woke up, since it has taken me multiple reheats to polish off each mug), I rub my greasy face and look at my children with eager anticipation that this next hour of our day will be better than the one prior.  This is how most days go for us, with mornings usually off to a rough start and my patience waning by lunch time.

If there is a nap time, I'm always debating how to spend the precious minutes of quiet.  Should I do homework?  Should I do dishes? Should I write?  Should I abandon all responsibilities and watch reruns of "Friends" on the couch while I polish off the rest of that leftover cake?  Should I balance the checkbook, fold laundry, call my sister, or scoop the litter box?  The myriad of options is overwhelming, and I'm often left disappointed in myself for not having accomplished each and every one of them in the 32 minute time slot I'm allotted while my girls are dreaming in the other room.

Look Familiar?
Good heavens.  How did life get so disorganized and messy?  When did taking a shower become a luxury?  And how do my expectations so easily outweigh my realistic responsibilities? 

Well, my friends, that is the beauty of motherhood.

As the saying goes, "With privilege comes responsibility"...but, it occurs to me that all to often, as a mother, I'm so hung up on the responsibility I often completely miss the privilege of what motherhood has to offer.  I get too uptight about not disciplining consistently, too guilty about feeding my kids processed foods, too worried about whether they know their letters or numbers as well as other kids their age, and too anxious about how my mothering is going to churn out these little humans back into society.

And then I breath.  And I reheat my coffee.  And I brush my greasy hair out of my face.  And I open up my eyes to these healthy, wise, spirited children whom I have the privilege to call my own.  And I realize that after yet-another nearly sleepless night I've just expended way too much energy on thinking about myself and an entire mountain of nonsense that's primarily outside of my control.

Lest I forget:  With responsibility comes privilege.

I pray that my vulnerability shines through to my children.  I pray that, while they know their mother isn't perfect, that they see a person who knows she isn't perfect too.  A day will come when I will probably teach my girls about make-up, and concealer, and french braids, and control-top hosiery...but, I hope the most glamorous thing I pass along to them is an honest spirit that strives for a heart of gratitude.

Learning lessons in the middle of a day that are fraught with time-outs and tantrums is much harder than I ever anticipated.  I'm challenged daily and fail often, but I'm constantly reminded that God doesn't give us wasted blessings.  This season of chaos was not gifted to me because God just didn't know where to throw it.  He knew exactly who was meant to raise my children, when they were to be born, and how they would need to be handled.  And, while that's a heap of responsibility, it's a rockstar privilege.

Mamas, let's take a look at our "little privileges" today in this new light.  After all, if God thinks I'm  rockstar enough to take it on (hallelujah, by His grace) then that's glamorous enough for me.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Parenthood is bananas.  B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

You start off with a little, tiny, innocent, sweet baby who depends on you for every little need who, within a blink of an eye, turns into an egocentric, chattering, maniac who demands your attention incessantly.  Don't get me wrong, I chose and choose this lifestyle every second of every day...but, it's not without its chaos (and inevitable anxiety).

I like bananas.  I mean, they're fine.  They don't make me gag, and they don't make me swoon. Bananas aren't my favorite fruit and I'd prefer them sidling my ice cream rather than topping my cereal, but that's just me.  But, my window for eating a banana is very ripe-specific.  I utterly despise green bananas, and anything bruised or brownish is just gross.  But, a perfectly timed banana that peels seamlessly and has that subtle, soft-but-firm ripeness about it is exactly right.

I know, I know, not even monkeys talk about bananas this much.  But, stay with me.  Parenthood is bananas.

Parenthood is full of perfectly ripened moments.  Times when your child hugs you for no reason.  Moments when you catch your little ones making each other giggle.  Occasions when you catch your breath at the thought of them being your own flesh and blood, and your heart aches with love for them so bad that you nearly miss them even when they are in your arms.

But, then there are the bruises.  The smooshy, yucky times that feel rotten and leave you with guilt and anger.  There are green times when you feel so new at this whole game you wonder how anyone has ever survived it before you.  These are the ends of the parenthood spectrum no one prepared you for, and you just can't imagine how you ever signed up for such a battle.

But, the reality is, I can't just take the perfect moments of parenthood without the yucky ones.  I don't get to hand-select the hugs without having to put up with the tantrums.  As a parent, there are days when I'm in constant battle with myself debating whether I truly think the blessings outweigh the frustrations, and I'm numbed by the debilitating, question no parent ever wants to admit they're thinking: Is it worth it?  

Guys, parenthood can be SO HARD, right?  Like, filled with frustrations so paralyzing that you just want to drop everything and take a time machine back to the good-ole-days when you could sleep in until noon and watch TV in peace.  And, in that fantastical moment of daydreaming life-before-children, I'm reminded how different I've become through the few years I've lived in this process we call parenthood.  And I'm the better for it.  Period.

To ask whether parenthood is worth it or not is literally asking whether life is worth living.  You don't get to "create your own adventure" like we may have imagined in childhood.  You don't get to only experience happiness, prosperity, and peace.  That's not promised in this life, and it's not attainable, nor should it be pursued.  Ideals in life can help motivate us, sure; but they can be dangerous plumb lines for gauging expectations.  It's the whole of life that truly makes each moment beautiful.

The crushing minutes of my day are the ones that mold me the most.  How I deal with the craziness, how I allow myself to be shaped by the opportunity to love well and forgive and be patient...these are the times I am growing the most into who I am meant to be in the next moment.  Parenthood is made up of a million moments of failure, followed by glimpses of the grace of Jesus, and rewarded by fleeting moments of utter joy.  The rest is all growing pains.  Ripening.  Progress.

Don't wait for the perfect moment to embrace the whole of parenthood.  You never know when the messiest of times might end up being the sweetest.
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