Saturday, January 24, 2009

This is a good thing. Tell me this is a good thing.

I never officially gave an update on the family weight loss challenge. I'm guessing that you can all infer what happened. Basically my dad and I "forgot" to remind my mom about the weigh out, and, well, the final weigh out has been postponed indefinitely. Apparently my father and I are content to live in our high-cholesterol, overweight bodies.

Except, um, I'm not really okay with my dad being as overweight as he is. I mean, he's Italian, I'm Italian. We're similar enough that neither of us is ever going to be skinny. But the rapid weight gain he's undergone since retirement really is alarming. And I'm not saying that just because I'm a complete daddy's girl. I'm worried. I don't think he's depressed, per se. I just think he doesn't know what to do with all of this free time that has suddenly been dropped in his lap. I feel like he just needs some structure. He needs to feel useful and needed again. He just needs to transition into the life of a retiree sooner rather than later.

So I've decided to give him Blue. (and now I can safely add "you can give them away" to the list of differences between owning dogs and having children.)

And I know this is the right decision. I know it's a good thing for a variety of reasons ranging from the fact that Blue won't have to spend 8 hours (sometimes plus) in a crate each day to the fact that my dad will have a buddy to go on walks with actually go on walks. My dad is a dog person, despite my mother's illusions to the contrary. Blue is an easy dog. He'll go for a walk with you just as willingly as he'll lie down next to you while you watch TV. He's an easy first dog. Unlike encouraging my parents to adopt from a rescue or shelter, I know exactly what my parents are in for with Blue.

But man, this is hard as hell.

My original plan was to run the idea past my mother, get her approval, then make up some blah blah bullshit reason why I couldn't keep Blue (maybe Blue and Casey aren't getting along? Maybe school is just too much?) and ask my dad if he would do me the favor of adopting Blue so that he doesn't have to go to strangers.

My mother was involved, so of course that's not exactly how it went down.

She went to my dad on her own after receiving my heartfelt email describing my plan and pleading with her to agree. She came back with news that my father had agreed to take Blue because "you can't afford him" and that yes he is a dog person, yes we can try it out, yes you might have to dogsit from time to time. Go ahead and bring him down when you come for dad's birthday. She did actually bold the above bolded phrase in her email. Which made me grind my teeth. And bite my tongue. While grinding my teeth.

In all honesty, the reason we give my dad doesn't really matter. It's just a means to an end. But seriously? Seriously?! Can we make our 31-year-old daughter who does not own a home and is taking a life path that is drastically different from anyone else in the family feel any more inadequate?? Better yet, let's make a difficult decision even worse for her.

But again, it's the end that matters, and my mother insinuated that my father was all for it. When I called and spoke to him? Well, it was a slightly different story. There was definite reluctance. Yes, he does love Blue. Yes, he is a dog person, yes yes yes....but still. I got more of a grudging "Emily, if the dog doesn't have a home, we will take him instead of sending him to strangers" than an enthusiastic, "Sure! I love Blue!"

So I had reservations. I mean, it hurts to give him up at all, I definitely don't want him going where he's not wanted. So I called my dad last night to come clean and see what he would say. My mother answered the phone.

"Mom, I'm thinking about telling dad the truth about why I want him to have Blue. He didn't sound all that enthusiastic about the idea as it is."

"Well, of course he's not enthusiastic. You're dumping a dog on us." (Translation: We've definitely decided to take the "Emily screwed up again" angle and dad is in the room.)

"But mom, if we tell him the truth, at least he'll have all the facts, and maybe he'll still agree?"

(shuffling noise) "Well, I talked to him and discussed how it might be fun to walk him together once the ice melts." (Translation: I am SUPER gung-ho for this idea. It gives me an excuse to get out and maybe get my husband exercising. I don't really care what he thinks. It's happening. Best. Idea. Ever.)

"Right. I was thinking I would take a couple of days of my spring break and bring him down to show you the ropes."

"Oh, really? I was thinking you could bring him for your father's birthday and put a bow on his head as a present." (Translation: Get it? You think it's a gift but really you're "dumping" the dog on us? Get it? Funny, right? Besides, spring break is almost a month after your dad's birthday. That delays my plans too long.)

"Mom, I think a transition of more than two days will be better for both Blue and I. I just want to be sure this is the right thing to do." (I may or may not have gotten choked up here.)

My mom's tone got softer. "It's like your father said. This would just be a trial period. If it doesn't work out, he'll go back to you." (Translation: I've moved to another room, so I can be a bit more honest now.)

"Mom, you know I'm not doing this to dump anything on you, right? You're not believing that act, right? You know that this is impossible, right? That I can only do this because I love dad so much more than I love my dog?"

I think the conversation would have gone better if I had actually said that last statement. Instead I just got off the phone and decided not to mention that perhaps my father should do all the walking of the dog. After all, Blue is pretty strong and if he sees a squirrel, pretty determined to get him. It would be a shame if he knocked my mom off her feet...


StaceyJ said...

How did this not get mentioned today???? Seriously...

I do understand your reasons, but I have to admit, I'm sad. I really like Blue. Remember, suchagoodboy!

AnnD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AnnD said...

Yeah?! Really?! How did we spend like 5 hours together and you didn't bring this up?! (By the way, your birthday is now FOREVER in my memory so there is no controversy over it next year).

Awwwww....Blue.....Noooooo! Whatever you think is best though...I can't imagine your life without Blue. I'll miss him!

Moore said...

That was a pretty selfless gesture given how much you love your dogs. Regarding the "you can't afford" comment, all moms of a certain type say that. I have one that does.

alisa said...

I am shocked!! But love your thought process behind it ...

just-stub said...

I can't even imagine how hard it will be for you to give Blue to your parents, even for such a good reason as dad's health. I wish they (read: mom) could just appreciate it instead of making you feel that much worse.

Candace said...

At least you can still visit him. Do you think that your dad secretly knows?

ems said...

StaceyJ and AnnD - I didn't mention it because I didn't want to cry.

Moore - I'm beginning to think that your mom and my mom have quite a bit in common.

just-stub - I do have to give my mom some credit. I don't think she's making me feel bad on purpose. That's just who she is. She thinks she's helping.

Candace - I wonder if my dad knows. Right now I'm going with no, but he's a smart guy. We'll see.