There is a new dog in town.
Actually she's the same dog I've had. My new and brilliant and beautiful and charming and incredibly capable Doberman puppy. She is 5 1/2 months old right now and is just as smart and brilliant and wonderful and beautiful and capable as she's always been. The difference is that she needs something new.
Which means that I need to do something new. Or, to be more specific, it is really about me learning something new.
I didn't know this, until this puppy that I have right now. Because all my other puppies, they kind of followed the same thing. There was a rhythm. There was an even flow. There was a familiarity. My mojo work.
But this puppy. She's different. She's got a whole new level of intensity going on. At first glance, you'd think that she has a lot to learn. And that it will be a challenge to teach her. But honestly, it's not about her ability to learn. At all. She will learn anything I teach. She is that smart. She is that capable. She is that able. It is not about her at all. Really.
It's about me.
This has happened to me before. I've been a mom three times. My first two kids, they were distinctly different from each other. They truly were. But in one sense they were both very much the same. Because they both matched me.
They matched my rhythm. They matched the even flow of my day. They were unstructured in the same way that I was and so, in turn, they followed my unstructured way of structure. They felt secure in the ease in which we lived each day, day by day and moment by moment. And they didn't question that there was no schedule to what was coming next. They didn't need a structure. They went with the flow.
And the flow was easy
And then I had my youngest daughter. Oh my. She was completely different than they were. She was completely different than I was. And so I had to learn something new.
Because the best thing we can do for our children is to parent them exactly the way they need to be parented.
It wasn't about her matching me. It was about me, as her mom, giving her exactly what she needed to be her best self. And so, whereas my first two children were able to go with ease into whatever came up at that moment without a worry about what would be coming next, my youngest daughter needed a plan. She needed to know what was to be expected. She needed to know what she was supposed to do.
And I was screwed. I had no idea how to do that.
But here is the beauty that is our children. They do not just come to us to teach us lessons we need to learn. They come to us equipped to help us learn those lessons, in any way we need them to help us. And that is exactly what my youngest child did.
Mommy, she said to me. I need you to tell me when to go to bed.
I can do that, I said to her, feeling completely inadequate and unable to do that. I think I need a little help, I said.
OK, she said. I will tell you each night it is time for you to tell me when to go to bed.
OK, I said. I can do that.
And that is exactly what I did. Each night my seven-year-old, brilliant and capable and knowing exactly what she needed daughter came to me and said Mommy I think it's time for you to tell me it's time to go to bed. And each night, after she told me, I looked at her and I said Faith, it's time for you to go to bed. And she would wish me good night and give me a hug and off she would go to bed. And she felt safe and secure. And I felt thankful. And relieved. I was serving my daughter in exactly the way she needed to be served. And she was helping me to serve her in exactly the way I needed to.
So back to my puppy.
My other puppies were easy. They matched my rhythm. They came when I called. They sat when I told them to sit. We went on walks without a leash and they followed along with tails held high and a skip to their gait. We were connected. They didn't need much structure at all. Or rather they needed the kinds of structure that I was good at. Where a command was more a conversation. Where constant loving and stroking were more important than tasks. Where we could hang out and everyone was happy.
They didn't need to work for me. They just needed to be with me.
But this, my beautiful and smart and capable and brilliant and incredible and challenging and lovely Doberman puppy, she needs more than that from me and so that is what I am learning to do. Because just as my youngest daughter needed me to give her more structure, and I learned to do that with some help from her, so I am learning to create a more concrete and structured way of living through each day with this, my incredible and beautiful and brilliantly smart Doberman puppy.
And in return I am learning so much more about myself.
I am learning that I can learn. I am learning that I can grow. I am learning that I can work as a team with my husband and with my family. I am learning that it is OK to ask somebody else for help. I am learning that it is okay to say that it is hard to take myself out of my comfort zone and do something that is best for someone else. I am learning that my puppy needs a strong and capable hand. And that she looks for that from me. And I am learning that I can do that.
That I may need help, but I can do that.
And I am learning that in giving her my best self in just this moment, she can be her best self, too.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.