Happy Dog

When you have a birthday close to but after the holidays, sometimes you don’t get much of a celebration when you’re a kid. My mom even said things like, “I don’t think I can face another holiday.” OH WELL. Teddy and I celebrated our birthday quietly as fits our natures (???). Then, day before yesterday I got a text from the kids’ mom. “We made you a Martha sized cake. We forgot your birthday. Can we bring it tomorrow?”

I haven’t been hanging out with the kids for a while. I felt the need to back off a little. The contest for which I read books in winter has begun, and I’m trying to stock my Etsy store ahead of spring having gotten the inspiration that people shop seasonally (who knew? Every retail person since time began, that’s who). Plus, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be part of a family. It’s strange, but true, that the word “family” terrifies some people (raises hand). Family carries expectations that I know I’m not up to and, along with expectations, come disappointments. I don’t want to disappoint those kids, but I have and I will. All that to say I haven’t seen them in several weeks.

So there they were, in the alley, with a pretty cake, a cardboard box with a pillow they made me so I could take a nap, and birthday cards they’d made. It was a beautiful scene, but truly, the most beautiful scene of all was when they came in the yard to see Bear. Bear was in RAPTURES that her kids were IN HER VERY OWN YARD. Bear ran up to M (and scared her) then raced around the yard several times. “That’s her happy dance,” I told the kids as the nut-brown dust blew up all around us. Dry, dry, dry winter… The kids examined the masterwork of holes Bear has been digging under a lilac bush for five years, watched the birds who live in my hedge and generally hung out in Bear’s world. When they left, Bear sat beside me at the gate and bid them farewell as if she had invited them to a tea party and it was time for them to go.

Bear’s masterpiece


41 thoughts on “Happy Dog

  1. Happy birthday! I know EXACTLY how you feel about having a birthday around the holidays. It’s never just yours. Something special. No one has the energy/desire/attention.

    And I hate to break it to you, but those kids absolutely think of you as part of their family. That seems like a good thing all around. I don’t think you can/will disappoint them. You are a Capricorn; disappointing people isn’t in your nature. 😉

    But I get that you want to manage expectations.

  2. Martha–what a great post! My birthday is exactly 3 weeks before Christmas and if I heard it once, I heard it a million times from my mother: “We can’t give you too much for your birthday, because it’s almost Christmas.” Like that even made sense to a kid.

  3. I love everything about this. The honest acknowledgment that family is both a burden and a thing we are supposed to want but sometimes question. (I’m neck deep in laundry today, so it is a time spent reflecting on the fact that I decided I wanted to have a child and this is the prize–endless mounds of dirty clothes and the occasional hug on demand.) I think it would help if more people were honest about their mixed feelings. You can love your family, but not always want them in your face.

    I especially like that Bear is your social engagement director. He can keep the kids busy with holes and dust devils while you get to enjoy the pillow and cake-y sentiments of people trying their best to celebrate you! And, for all the trouble that comes with engaging with the rest of the planet, it is good to be noticed and included. (As long as you have a nice hole you can crawl back into to recover when they are gone.)

  4. Sounds like you had a good day anyway — in spite of diabetic cautions — and Bear had a wonderful time. I think the problem isn’t so much children’s expectations as society’s expectations. The picture society paints these days of “what all children need” can soon end up making mom the slave, and put extra burdens on friends. I’d say, Just enjoy them while they’re around — and don’t let them order you around. 😉
    Thanks for sharing your good day with us. And sorry about your lack of birthday bliss. My folks (aunt & uncle) always gave me a simple gift, and sometimes a cake. Parties were rare back in the Olden days. 🙂

    • I think I had ONE birthday party because there’s a photo. I didn’t look all that happy in the picture. Well, I had one when I was 1. I seem to have liked that. 🙂 Good advice on the kids. I realized a few weeks ago that I needed to claim my own space.

  5. Happy happy birthday dear Martha.❤️ My son was born two days after Christmas~ I always tried very hard to make his bday special. Families are a sticky wicket. Kids are the best of all though. They bend with barriers they don’t even realize are there~they meet love at the exact point it meets them. And many don’t forget it. They forgive quicker, accept easier, and, unless abused, will offer gestures of kindness at times. Don’t get me wrong, they can drive you crazy too. But I have found I deal much easier with kids in my families than the adults. I’m so glad Teddy and Bear’s work was recognized~and they’re even more happy because Momma was…Finn and I wish you a huge cake and parties that make up for any year you should need one. 💚🥳❤️💕

  6. I know that as an introvert, one of the most challenging aspects of being social is managing the expectations of others, not only to avoid disappointments (on either or both sides) but to preserve my energy. It sounds like you’ve gracefully set boundaries for yourself that the kids and their mom respect; they clearly want you in their lives. And Bear makes a wonderful social bridge between all of you!

    • I love them, but I realized I can’t be “more” than I am and they needed to know that what I do I take seriously. I know their mom misses her family which is one of this Covid denying families. She wisely doesn’t want to risk her health or her kids. Strange times. But that also means that I don’t want to take the place of their real grandma because things are going to change.

  7. Even in the retail world it takes time to learn about seasons. I remember my first Thanksgiving in the grocery biz. I made a big list of things to be sure to have plenty of on hand. I still missed a few. (Not enough aluminum foil! A last minute run for more croutons!) Do people want garden signs when they order seeds, or when they start to plant?

    • I have no idea. This is the first time for me — but I tagged them “Mother’s Day.” I’m not even sure people want garden signs, but I have the materials and it makes me feel better to paint them. I guess I’m going to find out. I’m going to have to invest in advertising, I think. :O

  8. Remember one time I was hiking along Sespe Creek with Avery and we encountered a class of kids on a school outing, maybe 4th or 5th grade. The kids were so happy that every one of them just had to pet and hold her and teach allowed it once she saw how friendly Avery was. Avery was in pure heaven.

    • I love Avery. One of my huskies (Jasmine) looked like Balto in one of the films bout Balto. We ran into a bunch of 6th graders in the Lagunas and they were in raptures! “Balto!!!!” Jasmine was so happy to be petted by all those kids.

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