Sometimes there are moments in life where you find yourself in a moment where your realize your life has fundamentally changed, and you’re looking at the path in front of you, realizing it’s maybe become a little bumpier or unfamiliar. You may have been coasting along on cruise control and suddenly realize you’ve got to adjust your speed and grip the wheel a little tighter (or, in some cases, ask Jesus to take it).
Then, sometimes you find yourself in a moment where you realize your life is about to change. You’re staring down the road, catching a blurry glimpse of what’s up ahead, and having a clear understanding that things are going to be completely different. But you can’t see exactly how. You only know that your world is changing, and you better fasten your seatbelt and try to prepare best you can for what may come.
Up until now, I’ve found myself more in the first kind of moment. Maybe when we adopted Ollie, or when I got engaged to my husband, I had a little sense of that second moment. But I’ve never felt quite so much sense of knowing the unknown is about to happen as I have lately. Something about knowing a human baby is coming along, and you will never be fully prepared for what that means until that human baby gets here, is just a lot to think about.
I guess this would be an appropriate time to note that come December, our family is due to grow by one more. I should also probably note that between lots of nausea, fatigue, and all the life in between, it’s been hard to write as much as I would like. Not for lack of experiences, though. Especially for as long as I can continue cherishing these moments where it’s ALL about them. Just this summer, Ollie has completed Intermediate Agility, Balton has started taking Nosework, and we successfully got through a family vacation up to Maine that I had been having a lot of anxiety over, due to the fact that it was Balton’s first time traveling in a car with people other than Nick and me, and that we were sharing a cabin with my parents for a week (I’m pleased to say Balton did amazing, by the way).
As we come up on Balton’s second anniversary with us, it’s impossible not to look back and reflect on how life with him has changed us all over these years, and how in agreeing to foster him I never knew just how big an impact bringing him into our home would have. As I try to plan ahead, realizing 16 weeks from now things are going to change in ways no amount of planning will truly prepare me for, I know things are going to be different.
Between reading articles and attending classes about living with kids and dogs (it’s not the only thing I’m studying up on, but let’s be honest, it’s probably all you guys here care about), I wonder, I worry, I prepare, and I pray. I pray because I know that no amount of preparation, training, or reading will adequately reveal how our family dynamic is going to be altered until I get home from the hospital with a tiny human.
I have assumed a lot of responsibility in trying to give my dogs the best quality of life possible. Especially Balton, who came to us pretty broken and deserved so much better. It’s not that I don’t worry about Ollie, but I worry much less about him, in large part because I’ve been able to observe him around children and see him do well. With Balton, it’s different. I can’t “kid test” him or provide practice opportunities with children, because I don’t trust other people’s children enough to do so safely. After all, too many times, well-meaning adults have set him back in their interactions and inability to follow instructions to keep him feeling safe. So while one side of logic tells me it’s irresponsible to say “we’ll just have to see what happens,” the other side of logic and my heart tell me that coupled with the training, management, and care we already provide, waiting to see what happens, and taking it day by day, is truly the most responsible thing I can possibly do with Balton and our new baby.
I am certain we are not the first people on the planet to have a baby live with a dog who can be a bit more challenging than the average bear, and I imagine others are out there doing it well (I can’t say I’ve found a lot of case studies to refer to though, so if you have any feel-good stories of fearful dogs and their people doing it right with a new baby, by all means send them my way).
In the mean time, we continue on as we always have. Keeping the faith, trusting in the powers that be and asking them for some extra sprinkles of blessings, but more importantly trusting in ourselves to keep doing right by our pups (be they the four-legged or two-legged kind). In acknowledging that life can (and will) change in a moment, it’s sort of a sweet reminder to cherish each moment when you experience it. With that, I hope you’ll forgive me in doing a little less chronicling of these coming weeks and months, as I work to give these moments of now and moments ahead as much of me as I possibly can.