I don’t think this is something that dog moms talk about that much. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone mention this before in passing… but lately, I’ve been suffering from some serious mom guilt and regret. And it all has to do with my new rescue pup, Tucker Thanos. Don’t get me wrong – he is the sweetest dog on the planet. We are so blessed to have him in our family. The kids are beyond thrilled and he truly brings a new level of energy into our house. But I can’t help but think of all the times that I didn’t pet my little Jack and Jill during the last few years of their lives as I cuddle up with my brand new furry pup. And it’s tearing me apart.
Tucker is just a baby. He is almost 10 weeks old at this point. So, he is playful and fun and fast and crazy. The kids get an absolute kick out of him. If I’m being really honest with you, so do I. My children are all grown and this puppy feels like a brand new baby. If you are a dog mom, I think you know what I mean. Dogs become our children in some way. They can’t help but feel part of the family… because they ARE part of the family and Tucker fits right in.
But every time I get too comfortable with my new baby boy, I think of Jack and Jill during the last few years of their lives. Blind, slow, scared, sick, tired … and not really in the mood to be touched. It got to the point where I would stop trying and so that’s how their last few months played out. Three passing ships. They slept for the vast majority of their day. I worked for the vast majority of mine… and now they are gone. And I can’t pet them anymore and I can just cry as I write this. In fact, there are many times throughout my days when I think I still see Jack. Not in a strange “I’m losing my mind” kind of way, but more of a “he’s still here with me” way and it brings me comfort I suppose… but also fills me with such guilt because I can’t love on him anymore. I know I should have. Looking back now, I realize that time is all we really have and I wasted it with my first two babies. 17 years together and their last year or so was filled with neglect. If I am being really honest, I can say that I did not love them hard enough and it just makes me so sick.
I mourn the loss of our furry babies. I mourn the loss of the time that I wasted. I mourn the loss of what I can never get back again and I feel so guilty about it all – every time I approach Tucker. I think to myself that I could have done more for my Jack and my Jill. I suppose this is what we do to our elders as well. How cruel we truly are when we stop and see ourselves without our masks on.
And so, I am stuck in this place where I want to do it right – all the way to the finish line. Where I want to love Tucker with all my heart and soul – just as I did to Jack and to Jill for all of their lives truly until the end. But I am held back with him because I feel like I am dishonoring my first two. How silly this all sounds!
I snap out of it, of course. He deserves my love. He deserves a mother. He deserves a happy home. Tucker deserves a lifetime of belly rubs and trips to the park, and we will give that to him and more. It’s my internal struggle that I have to get over. I can love all my children. I can forgive myself for my mistake. I can believe that my dogs know – in some way – that I did the best that I could and looking back now I recognize that it wasn’t enough. And sadly, that lesson was learned on their behalf, but I will see them again one day and I will make it up to them.
Flashes of Jack walking through the hallway, passing me in the kitchen, strolling by my feet in the living room – I’m not sure if you believe these things or not. But I do. Either way, he’s waiting for his mom and I take that as a beautiful sign.
I suppose the lesson here is to always be present. To always show how much you love someone – even if they don’t seem to need it. Because there will be a time where you won’t be able to give it and there’s no turning back after that.
I’m sorry. I love you. I’ll be better this time around. I’m much more aware. 17 years together and I hope you know what you two meant to me. I mourn this loss and Tucker can never replace you. He is a new wonderful chapter in our lives. But you were my beginning. My two sweet angels.