If parents had to apply for the job….

April 29, 2015

By Angela Liddle

Recently I adopted my first pet from an animal rescue and I secretly wondered if I would meet their qualifications.  I mean seriously, how embarrassing would it be to have my application, complete with essays, not accepted?  I actually labored as I described how I would address training and behavior modification in 500 words or less and the conditions under which I would need to relinquish ownership of the dog.  My essays passed the muster; then it was on to checking with my veterinarian and three references.  It concluded with a scheduled home visit and, by that point, I wondered how I managed to raise two daughters.  The final step was signing a multi-page contract that had me agreeing to unannounced visits and their right to remove the dog and re-assume ownership if they weren’t satisfied with the care being provided.

My two little girls, no longer small as they tower above me, are just on the cusp of birthdays marking 24 and 25 years of age.  In fact, the younger accompanied me on the trip to the animal rescue.  Thank goodness during the periods of quiet in the car she didn’t ask me where my thoughts were meandering.  Truth be known, I was considering the stark reality that I likely would never have been a mother if the same process for adopting this pooch had been applied to my maternal skill set.  After all, describe my parenting philosophy and how I would approach behavior modification?   How many parents consider, preverbal children, that we will ever encounter anything other than total agreement and euphoria?  Somewhere in my more youthful state, I thought a great diet, matching bedroom furniture and Garanimals, coupled with great child care and attentive, engaged parents would guarantee smooth sailing.  As all parents know, the preverbal stage lasts but the blink of an eye and before we realize what happened, we have traveled many bumpy roads together.  Sprinkled in between the moments of worry, exhaustion, power struggles and trying to make it to the violin recital, piano, basketball and softball practice on time, there were times when we knew we “fit together” no matter what.  Those were truly euphoric moments.

Like most families, we had our share of family traditions, with Mother’s Day being no exception.  Most years we walked the woods together and clipped lilacs; still my favorite flower today.  I would watch them bury their faces into the bouquet as they tried to inhale the scent and compete to gather the largest bunch.   I have no clue how 25 years passed by so quickly. What I do know is they are still my little girls and I still cannot describe my parenting style in 500 words or less. Yet, I know these things for certain; nothing beats coffee on the couch with Kelsey or seeing my only grandchild Hailey reach for Bryn and hear her say, “mommy.”  I celebrate their successes and I feel their pain as if it is inflicted on my own body and I doubt that will ever change.  Being a mom has challenged and stretched me in every way imaginable; it’s the one job I have given whatever my best has been, but never felt my grade to be very high.  I suppose it’s like that with things that mean the world to us.

And as far as the rescue pooch goes, her name is Lilly and this morning she attempted to chew my shoe while I showered and she left a nice puddle on the kitchen floor.  Housetrained?  Not quite.  But like the kids, she’s family and we “fit.”