The Matron was a reluctant dog park participant today.
Her husband is vacationing in sunny Florida while yours truly: drives, cleans, cooks, works, and fusses. The usual stuff, only John's too (who KNEW that one had to slightly angle and kick the snow blower?). Six days of hauling Matronly ass.
At least that is how she was feeling, facing the dog park.
Lest one slap that Insane sticker on her forehead (DOG PARK? On top of the job and the family and the driving and the meals?), let her remind her readers that she lives with Satan's Familiar and a 90 lb coon hound (Boc). Those 90 pounds are solid, insatiable energy that must be spent somewhere. If not running through 35 snowy acres with a pack of doggie friends, Boc will expend that energy --nonstop -- inside of the house. And make her crazy.
Plus? The Matron understands Need. That dog is hard-wired to run and, in his own dog way, suffers when open spaces aren't at his command. She knows this and succumbed her own desires to the needs of -- a DOG.
The Matron trudged into the snow-laden, freezing, gray, dog park with History that went beyond the dog. The past four days? A blur on her own: ACT test for the oldest, rehearsals for Scarlett, Merrick sick again with the never-ending virus, enormous dramas at work,volunteer work, a freelance writing project, driving, driving, driving, nightly dinners, cleaning bathrooms, laundry and 120 students each expecting acute individual attention. Entirely too many constituents.
She entered the dog park annoyed that she herself alone emptied the dishwasher so someone could do homework, unfettered, and got up early just to make bacon and eggs when teenagers are capable of using a toaster on their own. The laundry bothered her, how it confused the teenagers and she was the failsafe for wool hand-washables, and Merrick was afraid of the basement for his drum lesson so she had to create a make-shift space upstairs. She was weary of the virus visiting her house, the endless soups, teas, and remedies she herself - without recognition -- was deploying.
Plus she was wearing snow pants and a parka. Not her best look.
In the midst of the crabby, cold, martyr-leaning walk, Satan's Familiar -- Scruffy -- had a moment. A small guy (poodle-terrier) he's the sensitive sort. Twig caught in curly fur? Scruffy is rendered immobile. He waits until his human extracts the offending twig before he can trot on. Water to walk across? He waits to be carried. The mutt thinks he's a prince.
Near the end of the walk, the Matron saw Scuffy at a dead halt ahead, holding up a front paw and looking around for her. They made eye contact. She knew.
She took off her mittens and held the paw in her hand until a hard snow pack melted. This took a bit of time while Scruffy waited patiently, immobile with paw in hand, looking at her the entire time - -waiting. When the last crisp ice pack melted, she patted his head and said "Good boy."
As he dashed off with barely a glance -- free! -- she realized that this was her life: John, Stryker, Scarlett, Merrick -- yes, even the dogs. We stoop or stretch to care for another, offer what they need. This mother is simply the one who does what's needed. Hold a paw or scratch a back or take over garbage duties if it's a really, horrible adolescent day, or take over the family when your partner needs a break -- sort of the same thing.
When she put her hand back in the mitten, the skin was warm.