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OK. It’s been almost a month. I am ready to discuss Benny. I’ve berated myself enough, had enough days of gratitude for his return, and have forgiven myself (ish) for the utter stupidity and lack of awareness that caused the whole ordeal in the first place. First let me tell you about the very first member of the Smith Household…..
We brought Benny home as a puppy from Staten Island 9 years ago. From then on, it was a rare occasion that he wasn't seen attached to me in what resembled a baby carrier. Jobs we're turned down if he couldn't join me as the show’s Maltese mascot, and parties were left unattended if he was not welcome. I even scoffed at those who would warn me of the inevitable change of heart that motherhood would bring. It was not Benny for whom I was concerned, but the baby. How could I possibly love him or her as much as Benny?! Ha!
It is because of our adoration that we were inspired to work with multiple rescue organizations and foster a handful of dogs, much to Benny's chagrin, as he is unaware that he himself is a canine and is terrified of his own kind. Although one of those fosters is now his adopted, one-eyed older brother, Morgan.
They seem to have a mutual “I don’t play, roll around, fetch or snuggle with any other furry creatures” understanding. They were meant for each other in their aloof, co-existing way. In fact, although he’ll never admit it, I swear I noticed a worried longing in Morgan’s eye during Benny’s tragic, 2 day disappearance. Where did he go, you ask? The dog who is petrified of the outside world and would forever stay curled up in the corner of the couch if he had his ?
I locked him outside. No. Not outside in the fenced in back yard, where he certainly would have scratched at the screen door to alert us of his location, but the front yard….no gate, no fence, no protection from the vehicles speeding home from park activities, and most importantly….no collar.
Wow. But, it gets better.
We, (yes I’m adding my husband to this part) “WE” did not notice he was missing for 4 hours! At that point, he was nowhere to be found. 10 pm, dinner cleaned up, showers taken, babies sleeping, and one scrappy dog with street cred, peering with a disapproving one-eyed squint that dryly said “I told him this day would come”
I could go on to tell you my list of excuses that may help to soften the image I’ve painted of us as horrible, irresponsible, and uncaring dog owners, but I will not allow myself that luxury.
We spent the next 48 hours searching, hanging signs, knocking on doors, calling shelters and vets, and crying. A lot of crying. From all of us. My husband and I because of the agonizing worry over not knowing where he was and if he was in distress, and the kids, because they didn't understand why Mommy and Daddy were acting so strange. It was a nightmare of a weekend to say the least, but by the grace of God, Benny was returned to us unharmed!! The nice teenagers, who returned him 2 days later, said they found him walking around in circles. That’s our Benny.
Those who knew me pre motherhood most likely recall my attachment to Benny as slightly over the top. Those who have met me since the birth of my son however, have said after meeting him "I didn't know you had a dog?”
So, what I vowed would NEVER happen, happened. Along with a thousand other things I said I would never do or never become once wearing the Mommy Badge.
In all honestly, it would be impossible for me to keep up the level of attention and doting care for my dog while offering my children the same. But, I'm wondering if I went too far in the other direction. No, he doesn't need to attend auditions, trips to the grocery store or social events (unless they are in the park). He is in fact a dog. But, he can still curl up in my arms once the children are asleep in their beds, and perhaps I can pay just a smidgen more of attention and do a quick check to see if he is inside before I shut and lock the door at dinnertime. Surely, there is enough of me left for that. Don't' you think?