Its 530 am and I dont want to get up. My legs are heavy, I can’t see. Its still dark outside.
The dog whines next to my bed. The teenagers are stumbling around downstairs trying to find breakfast. I do not hide breakfast, the teenage mind is incapable of finding things outside the scope of their understanding of the world. And at 6 am they understand nothing other than they also can’t find their clean laundry. Which has all been washed and folded and is waiting for them to put away.
The dog and I make our way downstairs to go pee (both of us) and pack lunches (just me). After almost forgetting everything they need for school, they make it out the door. At least once a week I notice a forgotten lunch or a dropped form. Or there is a text about a left behind project, payment, sports bag, sense of autonomy, pretty much the usual.
But its not over yet. The middle schooler now needs to be awakened, fed, interrogated about his homework, and driven to school. This particular morning I got the old, “Mom, I totally forgot I have to bring breakfast in for my whole class!”
I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. I grab and quickly weigh a chicken breast and a banana and head out to Dunkin Donuts lest we disappoint a room full of hungry eighth graders. But not before letting the dog out a second time and making sure he’s gotten his medicine and some breakfast. Dry chicken a delicious breakfast does not make, but I choke it down anyway. Fifty-five grams of protein down, 100 to go.
After dropping off said eighth grade with two and a half dozen donuts barely in time to avoid a tardy slip, I head to the gym. I have a gym in my basement, but I don’t train there any more. Too many distractions, not enough ways to address my aging joints, and its boring. And lonely. My old dog can’t make it up and down the stairs anymore and he was always my biggest cheerleader. I don’t interact much at the commercial gym, but its bright and has everything I need. It also has terrible pop music, a few people doing jaw- droppingly stupid stuff, and its fair share of slack jawed gawkers, but it feels alive. I keep my ear buds in, head down, and am usually done by 9 or 930 if I get my cardio in.
And then I’m hungry. This is when I sometimes go ahead and hit up the Subway next to the gym for a chicken sub. Sometimes I wait til after I get home from the grocery store and make myself a big egg white omelette with, yep more chicken and lots of veggies. This is second breakfast or first lunch depending on how you look at it. I typically have another meal before leaving to coach cross country around 2:30. I have to prioritize when and what I eat or I will eat whatever is in front of me without a second thought. And going to coach over 40 middle schoolers on an empty stomach is a terrible idea.
But as all of you with households and kids and dogs and jobs know, most day are not typical and there are always last minute random things that need to get done right now. So meals aren’t always easily prepped or planned. Sometimes I forget to eat until I am absolutely ravenous. Sometimes I want to eat the random ketchup packet I find on the floor of my car.
And though it is still morning, its time to grocery shop for dinner, go home and prep dinner (with canine assistance of scrap disposal), clean up, return a million emails, grade some student assignments, house and yard chores, put out some fires, maybe clean up dog puke, and get ready to go coach 43 cross country runners after school. And yes, figure out how to eat the rest of that protein and drink all the water.
After practice, its all about feeding kids, making sure the dog gets out in the yard, and making sure everyone gets their homework done before any evening activities begin. And if I’m lucky, I can get to bed before 830 after entertaining or just snuggling with my very demanding dog for a few minutes more. He has a tendency to protest loudly when he feels I haven’t loved him enough for the day. And so I let him sit on my lap for a little while and give him all the pets. And then he usually follows me upstairs. Sometimes he needs help.
If I’m lucky, I will have at least one of my children come in to my room as I’m winding down because they need help with the homework they forgot about til just now, need help with a personal problem, or simply because they need a hug before going to bed themselves. They are not so different from my dog.
My schedule is pretty hectic, but it probably sounds routine to a lot of you. The point of this self-indulgent diatribe, however, is not to complain. It was something I wrote and didn’t intend to share. I was just trying to give myself some perspective on how much I’d piled on my schedule. Because as everyone tells me, I do too much. And sometimes, self-reflection is a valuable tool.
But today, I decided to share this with you so I can talk about the dog who plays such a big role in my daily routine. He’s my sweet boy. A rescue we got 5 years too late. And luckily, we got to spend another 7 years with this gentle soul who never met a dog or person he didn’t like. We found out he had a tumor growing in his chest this Spring. We weren’t sure how long he had.
Today, my schedule got a little bit lighter. And the world grew a lot heavier. My dog Buddy, that very sweet, gentle soul, who lived to follow me around all day and sometimes barf on the carpet, is no longer with us. And this hectic schedule of mine, that seems so silly now, will be a lot lonelier without him.
I loved my friend
He went away from me
There’s nothing more to say
The poem ends,
Soft as it began-
I loved my friend.