Situations Change But The Basics Don’t

Bud sleeping after playdate weekend.
I have come to realize that my “norm” really isn’t norm at all, in any aspect of my life. I mean, really, who has five dogs on purpose without a kennel license, is considered a best friend by an ex and near forty completely turns away from a decade of success to begin a new adventure completely unprepared? Yeah, that would be me. She types with two dogs in her chair at the time….

I don’t think there is any identity that I hold that I have performed in a traditional manner. I wasn’t your typical mother, boss or even now business owner. Even growing up the entire environment was a little less than the norm.

The norm part was that I had my mom and dad, who were married for about 30 years and they were wonderful; an older brother and sister. We had pets, a nice home, fenced in backyard, family trips and a pretty blue-collar existence. Every holiday we spent it with all the various families – this is where we begin to deviate from the norm.

My dad’s parents died when I was fairly young so I pretty much got ripped off on that one; however my dad’s brother, my uncle Steve, was pretty much a constant throughout my life along with his children – I have fantastic cousins and have many fond memories of spending time with my uncle hearing his laughter and my cousins Joanne and Julie giving my brother dirty looks for diligently drinking his vegetable juice.

My mom’s family was always and still continues to be a constant. My grandmother was my idol and I spent much of my childhood in awe within her presence and when I was in college I moved back home to move in with her to help take care of her during failing health. During that time I met my ex-husband and he became a constant with her as well, she adored him. Once he was in the picture she no longer reached for my arm to steady her but rather took Jeff’s with the gentleness and presence of a true lady.

And then I was blessed with my third family which surrounded us with love and laughter during holidays and family picnics. Grandma McKenzie and Aunt Aubrey were the elder sisters who lovingly crocheted us unique little gifts (I still use my delicate purple treasure box to this day) and fixed us cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast. Then there is my beloved Aunt Carol, known professionally as Judy, but by me as my beautiful, strong Aunt. She made motherhood a little easier for me as she worked at my son’s pediatrician.

Oh, perhaps I should explain why I say my third family. My wonderful and resilient mother had my brother at a young age with a gentle soul who was not my father. They dutifully married as was expected during that time and to the, I imagine, horror of all got divorced shortly thereafter. I imagine this did not faze my grandmother much as she was twice divorced and pretty much lived her life in an amazing way on her own terms. But it did terrify the family of the father as they were petrified that they would lose my brother. And here is where the constant un-norm behavior was demonstrated by my mother.

She decisively told his family that not only would they not lose this child but that she expected them to welcome and love any additional children that she might have as one of their own. The women in my family are ones that do not make declarations lightly. And with this simple statement my sister and I grew up with three loving families never detecting one iota of difference in the way we were treated, or my brother was treated, by any. We were loved, accepted and welcomed by all three. We were family.

My family taught me about family, that broken legal ties do not break heart strings. Family is family and once that determination is made it is an invisible bond based upon love, respect and above all else the benefit and best interest of children.

Having been taught this message as a child and seen it demonstrated throughout my life it really is not difficult to see how I could easily encourage, grow and maintain friendship with my ex-husband. After the divorce he was requested and attended every holiday and function with my family, immediate and extended.

After my father died we would go over to my mom’s and he would tend to any items that needed attention. When he was diagnosed with cancer my mom immediately called the family and my aunt and uncle were the first to show support. We worked together in raising our son and scheduling individual vacations or weekends ensuring that we each were able to as much as possible share in our son’s life.

It has been some time since I had thought about scheduling weekends as our son will be 19 in February. From packing a weekend bag to scheduling drop off and pick up I had long since forgotten about planning those types of details. Until this past Friday.

I was talking to Jeff Friday early evening and he was telling me that he had not been scheduled to work the weekend; which has not happened in some time. I told him it was great that he would have some time to relax and hopefully get over the cold/flu that he has been battling for almost two months. I asked him what he was going to do with all that free time.

That’s when he said, “I thought I would have Brutus for the weekend. For Bud.”

Brutus is my pack’s baby, the five month old Italian Greyhound and Bud is Jeff’s eight year old Pug. Yes, a Pug named Bud. And it is not just Bud, you have to say his name like Rudy did on The Cosby Show. Anyway, we scheduled a weekend for the baby. Seriously.

I didn’t pack him a bag, although I did bring his food. I dropped him off on Saturday afternoon and retrieved him Sunday evening. My dog had a sleepover. Need I remind you that my norm is not norm? Need I really provide any more evidence? Seriously.

My original thought and point to this blog was that situations change; however, the basics do not. I used to arrange sleepovers for my son, now I’m arranging the same thing for one of my dogs. The basics were still there: what he eats and when, where he prefers to sleep, his behavior patterns (in this case when he poops), discipline and encouragement guidelines and the expected times of drop off and pick up.

So if you find yourself in a situation that you haven’t been in for quite some time; perhaps starting over in a job and having to take a few steps back; don’t fret and don’t get frustrated. Sometimes taking a step back can be a good thing. It can help remind you of the things that you did very well and will lead you to greater success this time around. Possibly it can give you the opportunity to perform tasks which you had forgotten that you truly enjoy.

It is easy to become frustrated when we think we are taking a step back and to become wrapped up in the negative thoughts of the situation. It then becomes a matter of choice; you must make a decision to either continue to look for the negative or decide to find a positive. If you really embrace the idea of finding the positive you have the opportunity to even find a bit of humor and dare I say look forward optimistically about the situation?

The positives were that Bud and Brutus absolutely enjoyed playing together, Brutus discovered a whole treasure trove of toys, was immensely spoiled with treats and Jeff loved having his two favorite dogs bound through his home. I was able to swiftly blaze through my house giving it a complete cleaning while the bigger dogs enjoyed the freedom of coming in and out of the house as they desired. I can’t let Brutus do that as he is a little digger and loves to escape into the neighbor’s yard in the very instant you take your eyes off of him. Oh, and Bud was so worn out from his sleepover he literally crashed for a very good night’s sleep.

The humor came in the form of Jeff’s realization that it had been some time since he had a puppy had forgotten they poop a lot; at the very moment nature calls and wherever that happens to be. Okay, so it was more humorous to me than Jeff, but hey, I choose to think it is funny. Actually, hearing him describe it, I thought it was down right hilarious, but that is just me.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

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