A few years ago one of the posts I made on this blog was titled, WARNING: Bad Mom Moment Ahead. In it I wrote about having to leave our dog, Maggie behind when we moved and how I told Zach it would be fine—that we’d get another dog. I made it sound like any dog we got would be as sweet, loyal, and as smart as Maggie. I made it sound like people and pets are meant to be disposable and temporary. Ouch! What was I thinking? Answer: I wasn’t. Shame on me!
My original purpose in sharing this incident was to remind you that we aren’t perfect people, so we cannot be perfect parents. We’re going to make mistakes, but that we shouldn’t let those mistakes defeat us or define us as moms and dads.
Today, however, I want to look at the ‘Maggie story’ from a different angle because lately I’ve had reason to think about just how tender and vulnerable our kids’ hearts are no matter what we may think or even how we believe they are processing what’s going on around them. So keeping that in mind, let’s continue the ‘Maggie story’…
Because we’d moved in the fall of the year, John and I decided to wait until spring to get Zach and the girls another dog. So for Easter we got them an adorable beagle puppy they named Bonnie. Bonnie was indeed a cute puppy. She was also absolutely, positively, undeniably the most disobedient, dog on the planet! No matter how hard we tried (and did we ever try) to get her to settle down and be a real pet, she fought us at every turn. The kids couldn’t enjoy her because all she wanted to do was run as fast and as far as she could possibly run. In short, she was no fun.
After several months of that, the only attention Bonnie got was to get fed, watered, and to have her pen cleaned out. And all of that was done rather begrudgingly. But can you honestly blame them? We finally gave Bonnie to a man who had other beagles. He was confident he could “…bring her around”.
I’d like to know how that worked out. Oh, well…
Throughout the years we had other dogs. A few good ones, one or two other not-so-good ones, and a few really great ones. But none of them ever really won Zach’s heart the way Maggie had all those years ago.
I say that because fast-forward almost twenty years to one day while he was working along the side of the highway. A dog came up out of the woods and claimed Zach for her own. She didn’t leave his side the entire day and when he opened the door of his truck to get inside…so did she.
He called to tell me about it; telling me how she looked a lot like Maggie AND that he’d brought her home and named her...yep, you guessed it. He named her Maggie.
This Maggie was also smart, loving, and completely loyal to Zach and his young family from the day he brought her home until the day she died. She loved each of them, but it was obvious that she loved Zach most of all.
You can say what you want, but it wasn’t just dumb luck that those two found each other that day and it wasn’t a coincidence she looked like the ‘original’ Maggie. She was the closure…the remedy for Zach’s six year-old broken heart (even though it was a long time coming).
I know leaving the first Maggie behind was something we had to do. I also know that my handling of the incident wasn’t the worst ‘bad mom moment’ I ever had (although I wish it was). I even know that my mishandling of the situation didn’t ruin Zach for life. But it did leave a little scar—one I put there. So do yourself and your kids a favor by taking a couple of valuable lessons from me.
One: Don’t assume that just because your children are small that their feelings are, too.
Their hearts are huge and vulnerable. Their feelings and emotions run deep. But because they are still children, they don’t usually know how to process and express themselves accurately, adequately, or appropriately.
Two: Listen with your eyes, ears, mind, and your heart WIDE open.
It’s up to you as their parent to ask questions and then listen to their answers; making sure they know they can answer honestly without fear of upsetting you, angering you, or being made to feel dumb or insignificant.
You’ve heard that saying, ‘dynamite comes in small packages’, haven’t you? Well so do big hearts.
Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
ZACH and some of Maggie's puppies 1986