When you receive a phone call with horrible news in the middle of your kid's dentist appointments, what do you do?
The only thing I could do was cry...and cry hard. My three kids were getting their teeth cleaned as I was learning the fate of our 13 year old beloved Goldendoodle, Lollie.
Wait, what? Cancer? How? When? What now? What am I going to tell the kids?
This news brought me to tears and practically to my knees. There was no hiding my emotions and I had to decide in a split second how to share the awful news with my boys.
My husband and I had a lot of choices to make and he was out of town. My boys were my support system, just as I was theirs. My hubby hopped on the first plane he could and we all grieved together.
My children are ten, eight and five and my best friends in the whole world. We tell each other everything, so why would this be any different?
The kids knew our dog was not feeling well, but Cancer? The diagnosis knocked the wind out of me but I knew that I had to get it together, for my kids, or at least I thought I needed to.
We tell our kids to be good role models to siblings and friends, so now it was my turn, right. Wrong. I didn't want to hide behind my sunglasses, cry in my pantry when we arrived home and pretend nothing was wrong. In my mind, I would be lying to them. I wanted to cry with them and wipe their salty tears as they wiped mine.
Almost every person I spoke to that day, including friends and family, asked me if I had told my kids. This surprised me because I didn't think twice about it. Of course I told them. Lollie is their dog too.
While I of course want to protect my boys from sorrow and shield them from pain, I don't want to teach them to hide their emotions. I want them to be comfortable expressing how they are feeling, no matter what. Lollie has been in their lives since they were born. How can I not be truthful and sugarcoat the situation? I can't.
Every parent has to make choices that make sense for their family. Sharing the news so the boys could appreciate every second they now have with Lollie and allowing them to grieve with us is what made sense for ours.
It is not just sadness we are dealing with though. There is the stress of not knowing. Will Lollie be here tomorrow? Next week? I don't know. Is she in pain? I don't know. When will we know it is time to let her go? I DON'T KNOW!
I think my kids get it because they have been really well behaved. Me on the other hand...I have been a basket case. I am always sad, on the verge of tears and always on the lookout for any abnormal behavior from Lollie, which is hard to detect right now. Nothing over the past week has been normal for any of us. It is an emotional rollercoaster. Some days I cry on the pick up line at school, in the supermarket or when I see someone walking their dog. Other days I smile and laugh, remembering all the funny moments and great memories we have shared with Lollie over the past 13 years.
My kids know I always try and see the positive in every situation so I told them that our sadness would soon turn into smiles from all the happy times we had with Lollie. I truly do believe that but I know from experience, that takes time.
I have taught my kids to live in the moment and not worry about what happened yesterday or what is to come tomorrow. I follow the same mantra when it comes to parenting because I know not everyday is going to be a great Mommy day. I keep reminding myself of this motto because lately, it has been challenging. Tomorrow is unknown right now so I have to remember to concentrate on today. Lollie is here today.
Tonight my ten year old told me how lucky we are that Lollie has been in our lives for so long. He is so strong, so mature and I am so thankful he can see me struggling and knows just what to say. Tonight my eight year old spilled water on a piece of furniture I am selling and I lost it. I felt bad because normally I would not have reacted that way. I explained that mommy is scared right now, sad and trying to grasp what is happening. I was expressing those emotions when I yelled and I apologized. Cancer is all consuming, whether it's a pet or a person.
My boys have taught me what family support means. They have taught me to be in the moment and to be present. They have taught me that the dishes and laundry will still be there and can wait.
Lollie has taught us all about the meaning of love. She has brought us so much joy and we cannot imagine life without her, even though it will be a reality we will soon have to face. I still think one day she will unzip herself and a human being will pop out and say, "Hey Mom, want to play ball?" She is the best! Simply the best!
Lollie has been on well known experimental medication for her condition and is doing better...for now. We don't have a crystal ball to know what to expect and when, but we know we love her more than words can really express and are so extremely lucky for every lick, bark and sniff we still get to witness and experience.
Pets don't live nearly long enough but maybe it is because we were meant to fall in love with many pets in our lifetime. I can feel the tears rolling down my cheeks as I write this so I must say goodbye as I have a belly to rub, a big wet nose to kiss and a furry daughter to tell how much I love and adore her.
When that dreadful day does come, and I know it is coming soon, I will need my children and my children will need me. We will all need each other to get through the pain and the loss. As the parent, we are supposed to be the strong ones but it can actually be the other way around. For me, sharing this bumpy and sad journey with my boys is getting me through the day and helping me to stay positive.
Hug your pets. Hug your children. Hug yourself.
To Lollie! Our beautiful furry girl.
Together We Can Master Motherhood...and that includes our furry children too!