(The following is not supposed to be a tale of woe or a cry for help. It is just supposed to be a snapshot into our swirly existence.)
To quote our friend, Doug, who has a puppy story of his own, “Operation Puppy was an unmitigated disaster.”
Dave has only been able to go to work for a few hours here and there since the Hopkins clinical trial started. Between driving up to Baltimore and feeling crappy, it just hasn’t been possible. Last week we both came down with colds so he spent most of the week laying low. Thursday night I gently encouraged him to get out of the house and go into school for a few hours on Friday. I suspected he wouldn’t because I wouldn’t be there in the morning to push. Sure enough around noon on Friday I got a text saying that he was not going to go into work, but because the cleaning ladies were coming, he was going to go to the Y to sit in the sauna. I texted back to say I understood but that I did feel he needed to push himself to go to work on Monday to “reengage the old thinker” and that I didn’t want to see him “checking out from everyday life”.
Right before my 6th grade class arrived, I noticed another text from Dave on my phone. This text said that he had bailed on the Y, gone to a local pet store, negotiated with the guy on a corgi and he was going to “pull the trigger”. He ended by saying that he would return the puppy before Parker got home from school if I was against it. My response was “NO NO NO”. When I didn’t get an answer, I decided that I had better call. When Dave picked up he was on his way to the vet to “get the puppy checked out.” I told him he needed to return the puppy immediately – that he was behaving selfishly and I was totally against it. I could barely concentrate as I got through the sixth grade class. When they left, I talked to my friends and colleagues, Linda and Sue. It was when I started to verbalize how I was feeling that an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion hit me. Suddenly, I felt the weight of all the stress that I have been carrying around come crashing down on my shoulders. Linda and Sue were both so supportive and reasonable and reassuring. I cried, which I hate to do, especially at work. But I literally was so angry and tired and frustrated that i couldn’t hold it in. How could Dave ask me to do one more thing?
I called him as I was driving home silently praying that he had returned the dog. We had a conversation that was full of silences (his) and hysterics (mine). What I wanted to say was this –
I get up every morning at 6AM. It doesn’t matter if I am tired or not feeling well. If Grant has to be up that early, I feel that the least I can do is see him off with a decent breakfast. Then Parker and I get ready, I drop her off at school and then I head to work. After work I pick up prescriptions, or groceries, or run errands, or take Parker to oboe or pick her up from play practice. This week also included the adventure of going to the DMV for Grant’s driver’s permit test and dealing with phone calls and paperwork to get Sam into the OI clinic. When I walk in the door there are usually dishes in the sink and laundry to be done and mail to be sorted through. Then there is dinner to be made and homework to be done. And I don’t mind. I feel that the least I can do is take care of the house and family stuff so you can concentrate on feeling better. But did you consider for a moment how I would feel about having another responsibility put on my shoulders? Because realistically, it is going to be me outside with a puppy every hour in the snow covered grass. It is going to be me watching the puppy to make sure that he doesn’t chew furniture or shoes or cords. I don’t have an ounce of energy to dedicate to anything else.
What I did say was this –
Your actions are incredibly selfish. I am exhausted and broken and have nothing left to give. I have a big threshold of what I will put up with but I also have a limit. You have reached and crossed that line. When I asked you to return the puppy you went to the vet instead. I have been there for you every minute of every day since this journey began, and I want to be there. But you can’t have it all. I know you are scared but this is not the way to handle it.
I passed the turn for home and drove to my parents instead. Grant texted me to tell me that “Dad got a dog. A sudden wave of stress has flown over me.” I told Grant that I understood and that I had told Dad to return the puppy. I don’t know what happened when Parker got home but I can imagine that it wasn’t good. Dave texted me to say that she wasn’t able to get excited over the puppy and wondered if I had said anything to Grant. I took a screen shot of our conversation and texted it to him. Parker was upset, of course – to have something given and taken away within the same moment just wasn’t fair.
In the end, the puppy was returned. The store does not ordinarily do anything but give store credit towards another puppy or kitten but Dave must have said something convincing. And he felt terrible for what he had put us all through. I have no doubt that Dave thought he was doing something fun and memorable for the family. I believe he thought it would be a big bonding time for him and Parker. Ultimately though he realized that shutting out his partner was not the right move.
We move forward and the situation did spark conversations that might not otherwise have happened so it was not all for naught. These are stressful and uncertain times but the one thing we both need to be able to count on is each other. And I believe we can.