In the ensuing months I watched Rosie blossom. She learned our routine, jumping back in the morning as I opened the outside door to remind me she hadn't yet gotten her treat. She started to expect good things because she knew I would give them to her. I didn't fail her.
When Rosie left due to my sinus allergies and the fact that she is a 65 pound dog we adopted thinking she was fully grown at 38, I cried. I cried a lot. I cried in the Target dog food aisle, imagining her wondering where her morning treat was. Someone on Facebook posted, "What's wrong with you? This is BS!" because I was finding a new home for her. I felt like crap, like I was failing her.
Something I've come to realize is that I'm not the only one who can provide good things for others. God (sorry, here comes church lady) has shown me that I can care for others to the best of my ability but sometimes I have to say "no" to good things or say "yes" to hard things because that means I'm caring for myself, too.
"Take everything!" I sobbed to her new owners, some poor unassuming Craigslist schmucks who didn't think they were going to be coming to the suburbs to meet a crazy mother in yoga pants that were never actually worn for working out. There I was, literally chucking all of her things out onto the lawn. "Please take it, take it all, because I won't be able to bear looking at her things." I came inside, picked up the car keys, headed to McDonald's for the three-for-a-dollar chocolate chip cookies and a Diet Coke. I cried some more in the car.
OK. I did the mooing cow cry in the car.
There are so many parallels I could make between caring for a traumatized animal and a traumatized child. Those small daily acts that turn into the bigger calling of leading a soul into trust is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.
The child: I will speak about her now. She came to us a few weeks ago; I picked her up in a dirty municipal building at 10 pm on a weeknight and her diaper was soaked. She was sobbing.
That first day she slept in until 10 AM and cried almost nonstop. I wondered what I'd gotten myself into, but my four year old daughter showed me just what as she relentlessly, as an act of grace and compassion, ran back and forth in our living room to find a toy, anything, that the baby would like.
When Scott arrived home she absolutely FLIPPED out, sobbing her poor little pot belly out as he sidled along the wall, hands up, reassuring her he was not going to try to touch or engage her.
The trust has been slow-coming, but it's come. She belly-laughed for the first time a few days ago and then caught herself. Almost a, "Oh, wait. I don't know that I should be showing them this side of me quite yet."
|fear not; this is not an actual photo of Little Lady|
It's crazy the places where you find beauty and grace, isn't it? For me, it's making connection with my husband, my kids, my friends, hurting children. It's showing them my own vulnerabilities so they can show me theirs. It's an emotional kind of "doctor", that game we all played as kids.
"I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours."
But who goes first? Who is brave (or stupid) enough to do it?
Tonight she gave Scott a "high five" as I told her he didn't hit anyone. He got her to smile as he did a silly dance. She caught herself mid-laugh, remembering that men hit and she shouldn't be so careless.
Vulnerability comes softly, a flutter of grace on air-filled sparrow wings. It's a flash in the eye, the hint of a smile. Vulnerability is what makes relationships worthwhile, it's what makes the "How are you?" actually mean "How are you?" instead of something we say to say it for saying's sake.
Do you allow the people around you to be vulnerable? Do you really listen? Are you ever brave enough to say, "Hey, I'll go first!"?
It's something I'm working on.