Wagging Goodbye

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When my husband and I started dating, I was a single mother. A Yorkshire terrier puppy named Wharton had stolen my heart just two months prior.

In the midst of graduate school and multiple jobs, I think owning a dog gave me permission to be maternal. At 22, I was nowhere near ready to have children.

But I liked to think that one day it still might happen. A dog, I believed, would give me practice.

And, it’s true, I endured all of the frustrating stages required of little creatures.

Bladder control (often in the wee hours of morning).

Destruction of property.

Boundaries.

If I’m honest, I think my dog represented something even deeper: my fear of being alone.

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To Climb a Mountain

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If you’re not careful, you’ll come to fear everything when you’re a mother.

I was reminded of this most recently during an active shooter training at the university where I work. It was a brilliant idea, really: listen to 90 minutes of gunshots and panic protocol two days before flying across the country with an infant and a toddler.

But the problem with ideas is that they are powerful and nearly impossible to derail. My worries about protecting two children in California only increased as our departure grew near.

Who will try to steal my kids when I am not looking?

Will I survive Bay Area traffic?

And, perhaps most outrageously, will I die in a mass shooting?

Things grew grim. And I’m not going to lie – the leash backpack was pretty tempting.

Somehow, amazingly, I mustered the strength to silence my mentally constructed catastrophes long enough to allow our family to board the plane.

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California Screamin’

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“If you’re going to San Francisco…”

…I highly recommend leaving your pride at home.

How long can my child possibly scream? I can’t tell you how many times I asked myself this question on our recent cross-country flight to California. It was a first for our family: two children on an airplane. Before the aircraft even moved, regret set in.

Beneath a suffocating red Delta blanket, I repeatedly tried to calm my daughter through nursing, but it seemed no soul could find rest. And it was there – right in the middle of the plane, with my chest half-exposed – that life commanded I listen: you don’t have all the answers.

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My Parent Self[ie]

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The picture was terrible. Just terrible. But, then again, selfies were likely invented by someone younger than I am.

After several chaotic hours with my children, I decided that the real cherry on top of our day should be special. Go hard or go home, right?

We ventured to the local Wildlife Center in a muggy 90 degrees for their daily show. Thirty minutes of educational entertainment for $0 sounded like the best idea I have had in weeks. My son was thrilled.

So excited, in fact, that he improvised and stuck his tongue out when my thumb finally found the capture button.

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