Old Yeller.

We rescued a dog this weekend from the shelter–our own.  She got out and was picked up by the po-po, then taken to the animal shelter.  This sweet dog had not been boarded in all her 13 years.  Her first ever night in a kennel, she was surrounded by incessantly barking biters and without the benefit of her old lady-pup meds to dull the pain.  When we went to pick her up, the kids thought we were walking in to a scene from Lady and the Tramp.  They were chatting about the cute doggies they’d be able to see until the shelter director said that there were “no other animals fit for interaction with children.”  I lied about the inevitable fate of those animals as we drove home.  Fail.

The dog likely went for her walk-about Friday night when I decided approximately 10 minutes before bedtime that a little Fro Yo would be a good way to end the week.  (I left the garage open.)  As I put the 2 year old into his car seat he gave me a grimace that said, I’m about to Poop with capital P.  I ignored it because the Fro Yo joint is just a couple minutes away and our minivan is a survivalist’s dream.  There are diapers, wipes, water, blankets and boxes of unrefrigerated (!?) organic milk with an inexplicably long shelf life. And if you’re feeling the need for a little vacation, at any time of year, the back row has a tropical beachy theme with floaties, sun hats and floor mats covered in a beautiful layer of Cheerio and cookie crumbs, resembling the fine sand and rock mixture of my beloved Hawaii.

Well, the bloom was off the tuberose ’cause there were actually no flippin’ diapers in the minivan on Friday.  When he exited the car, the poor kid’s diaper was so full his center of gravity was off.  He was crying (mostly from his own stench…”I so stinky!”) as we detoured into a drug store to pick up the necessary supplies to dislodge the growth from his rear, before we finally made it to the Fro Yo shop.  It was one of those pour your own and apply your choice of a million gross toppings places and I permitted each of the three angels to pile on as much artificially colored candy as they wanted to their previously, marginally healthy treats.  Three outfits were ruined and there were three sugar-coated melt-downs as I tucked them in and silently wished their beds came with restraints–but the minivan is restocked with wipes and dipes.  On balance, fail.

Around 10 pm that night we got a call from the shelter to say they had our dog. She was picked up at the midway point between the yogurt shop and our house. It was not until they called that I realized I hadn’t seen her in 3 hours.  It was too late for us to pick her up so she’d have to spend the night.  She was adopted from a shelter and survived the first weeks of her life alone on the quaint-but-mean streets of Long Island.  She’ll be fine, I just kept telling myself.  She’s a survivor, she’s a survivor, she’s effing Gloria Gaynor and Beyonce rolled into one fabulous dog form.  It didn’t make me feel better–but I’ve been singing Destiny’s Child songs for days.  Dog owner/parent/music lover fail.

In order to bust the dog from her cell, I had to promise the shelter warden that her one-month-ago-expired Rabies vaccine would be updated that day and I’d call later with the license number.  I did not take care of that until Monday morning.  I had a million other things to do on Saturday and had already spent an hour at a pet store getting a shiny new legible tag, guiltily buying toys for the other shelter dogs, telling the kids that maybe someday when they saved enough money they could choose between buying a hamster and going to college (the price tag may say $2.79 but that’s just for the hamster–everything else you need, cage, water bottle, wheel etc., costs $400,000) and otherwise whiling away the hours until the shelter would open at 11:00 am.  I hope the shelter lady who told me she “trusted me” when she let us go without following the proper protocol hasn’t lost her job and/or her faith in humankind.  What am I saying? She works at an animal shelter.  Her faith in humankind likely flew the coop her first day there.  (Update: I called to check in and apologize, she’s still employed and was genuinely happy to note that the vaccine was up to date. She and the others who do her job are amazing.)

You know what I left out from this weekend recap?  The yelling.  I woke up this Monday morning with a throat almost as sore as my heart from yelling for what feels like two straight days.  (The likely cause of sore throat is a late summer cold, but it in my pre-dawn haze I was sure it was the yelling.) We did a ton of fun things this weekend–parks, nature trails, a Halloween in August party for Saturday’s dinner, a trip down evolution lane at the natural history museum on Sunday, that Fro Yo thing…but it was the regular stuff that led to the yelling.  Grocery shopping with three kids, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, toy throwing, sibling sucker punching, teeth brushing, wound cleansing (the oldest took a header while walking our newly freed pup and split her knee open–unfortunately it looks like the inexorable scar will resemble Charles Manson’s forehead, but I kept that thought to myself).

I wasn’t all Joan Crawford or anything, but I yelled a handful of times.  “Come ON!” and “You have GOT to be kidding me!”  were my most frequent amplified phrases.  But I hate yelling.  I hate it (and myself) even as I hear the voice coming out of me.  I’ve read books instructing parents to whisper instead of yell.  I’ve read post after post on FB, HuffPost articles, Buzzfeed lists and Medline studies about yelling and its harmful effects.  But I’m human.  I was tired.  Sometimes it’s so loud between them and the dog that I have to yell to hear myself. (Ugh. That’s a stupid excuse.) I apologized to them and we talked about how moms make mistakes too…but still.  Parenting fail.

But this morning before work, my oldest was fashioning a cane from paper towel rolls and my middle was coloring at the table.  The 2 year old was running circles for no (apparent to us) reason around the kitchen.  I kissed their heads and said, I love you and goodbye.  The youngest stopped running and bowed before me.  Silently, he kissed my feet…straight up, Passion of the Christ style.  The middle ran over and gave me the heart she was coloring, “so you remember I love you today.”  The oldest waved her bedazzled new cane and wished me luck at work.

Okay, I thought.  They’re fine.  My oldest is earnest, helpful and crafty.  My middle is a dramatic little love bug with a mean right hook.  My youngest is a stark raving lunatic who loves his mama.

They’re fine.  Maybe I’ve barked them into submission and psuedo-religious expressions of love, but I don’t think so…. The good outweighs the bad and I (probably like you) need to cut myself some slack.  My kids are fine, better than fine.  They’re survivors…just like their pup.  And they all know how much I love them, whether I whisper or yell it.

Thumbs up.  You're doing fine, Mom.

Thumbs up. You’re doing fine, Mom.

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