The tentative whispers and the cautious what ifs — the quiet perhapses and the hesitant maybes — can change your life.
I know they’ve changed mine.
Again and again, the what ifs and maybes changed mine.
Like, maybe I love him. And, what if I marry him? And, perhaps I should follow my heart.
Changed my life.
They were toes in the water and the slow first steps, those perhapses of wondering which were born out of longing and transformed into hope.
Hope for a future.
Hope for a family, because the what ifs of marriage turned into the perhapses of having a baby… and then two more perhapses and a couple of maybes after that, and, whew, five kids is a lot of kids, you know? Like any number of kids is a lot of kids. Any number of kids is a LOT of kids because kids are made out of human like the rest of us and, well, any number of humans is a LOT of humans because we’re all wild and weird and wonderful which is a LOT to take all at once.
Over time in our family, we’ve wound up and down that ladder of perhaps and maybe. A whole lifetime of ups and downs, and downs and ups, and a few more downs, and not all of them pretty.
What if we never should’ve done this?
What if it was all a mistake?
What if I’m lost forever? What if I can never find myself again?
Perhaps I can’t fix this.
I’d be lying if I told you I’ve never wondered whether my kids and my partner got the worst end of the deal when they landed me as a mom and a wife. I’ve wondered that a thousand thousand times. And I’ve wondered it most of all for Ian, my kid with special needs who’s strong and kind and suffers all the time because the world is an anxious place and he’s unsure where to find safety and solace.
Maybe if I was a better mother.
Maybe if I was a better comforter.
Maybe if I wasn’t so totally batshit crazy.
It doesn’t seem to matter that I know my son’s early years, without us there yet, were full of uncertainty and neglect.
Maybe if I’d gotten there sooner…
Maybe if I was more patient…
Maybe if I’d advocated better or got to the specialists faster…
But it turns out that one of the biggest challenges of my life this far is the act of forgiving myself for everything I cannot be and all the things I cannot fix and to embrace myself for being one of those wild, weird, wonderful humans, after all… and then choosing, somehow, to dip my toes into the hopeful side of perhaps again. Choosing, somehow, to believe in the good what ifs and the magical maybes.
We sat in the counseling office a few months ago with our son. We talked again about the panic attacks and the scariness of the night. We talked about the fight or flight of anxiety. We talked about watching our kid hurting. And we talked about hope and help, and the counselor had a what if.
What if… a service dog? What if… a warm companion? What if… affection, no strings attached? What if… she’s trained to help? What if… she can do for him something special? Something extraordinary?
I said no. It’s too complicated. It’s Another Thing in our Busy Lives. It’s unmanageable and unrealistic. My husband won’t go for another dog – no way, no how.
But my son’s whole face lit up, and his body relaxed, and my heart whispered maybe.
And so I’d like to introduce you to our new Zoey… a maybe born out of longing, transformed into hope, and here in the flesh and the fur.
Christmas came early in our house, no question.
Christmas came early, and Love is made real.
Again and again, Love is made real. In the form of a Baby. In the whisper of maybe. It’s just, this time, she came with floppy ears and a tail.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas… or a Happy Hannukah… or a Wonderful Kwanza… or whatever says Love and Light to you this season… and sending Joy and Hope because I have extra right now,
P.S. Here are some pictures of a Dog and Her Boy.
Pardon me while I use this entire box of tissues.
And P.P.S., for those of you wondering who we went through to make this happen, we’re incredibly thrilled and grateful to be working with Aliesha Shepherd at Sit Spot Click Dog Training. Aliesha found Zoey for us and is training her and… the biggest challenge… training US.