Growing for others

I am not a pet person. I’ll admit it right away. I think the age-old question of “Are you a dog or a cat person?” is kinda unfair. I don’t know if I’m either. So, of course, as the fates would have it – I married the ultimate pet person. “Dogs?” Yes! “Cats?” Yes! “Sugar-gliders?” I’ll take two! When it was just two of us in the house, limiting occupancy of pets was easy. He came with two dogs, that seemed like enough. But then… we had three boys. Three boys that came out brown-haired, brown-eyed miniature Joeys who also were pet lovers, particularly my oldest. It took some time but soon the questions came: “Can we have a puppy?” No. “A bird?” No. “A lizard.” No. Man was I holding my ground so well! Then, my oldest started to figure out a system to get to me: “Mommy, I’m lonely when I sleep. I need some company for nighttime. Something I can talk to that is living.” So we agreed on fish. Then snails. And now apparently six chickens.

There is something super-special, however, about what’s happening with these new and unexpected pets. I am getting to see my husband and my oldest son demonstrate such love and affection for them in a way that is so special and unique from my own experience. This weekend, I got a text from my husband that our dog who had been previously uninterested in the chickens finally answered his internal call to embrace primal nature. And his old, deaf, unable to leap any furniture with even extreme effort body found some adrenaline and tore up two of the sweetest chicks we had. I could tell he was heartbroken. And as I looked at my son, I knew he would feel the same way when we told him. When we got home after an active day of outdoor sports, I sat him down and told him our dog had attacked and killed two of the chicks. Like I said, I am not a pet person and not really a crier either, but uttering those words to my son and watching his face switch from confusion to understanding to grief made me cry too. “But mommy, they were my best friends. But mommy, what about the other chicks – they must be missing their friends so much.” He cried outwardly and went to comfort the remaining chicks. And then, like the six year old he is… he moved on especially when distracted by the promise of two new chicks and re-fortification of their temporary indoor home. I saw how much he felt for these animals and cared for them like they were an extension of his family… an extension of himself.

The next day, my husband finished building the coop and placed the chicks in it for a short time so they could get used to their future home. I caught a glimpse of my husband and son staring into the coop, watching their new friends quietly together. It was magical. It reminded me why I love them both.

Sometimes it is difficult to change for other people. It is difficult to adjust the stories we have been saying about ourselves for years and embrace the possibility of a new chapter. Am I suddenly a pet person? Perhaps not. But I am my husband and my son’s person, and therefore I’m willing to try.

And no, honey, this does not mean we are getting a cat!

May we all take a moment to consider the people in our lives today and ask: are we embracing who they are and allowing ourselves to be changed by them in new and exciting ways.

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