I gave back the puppy.
Yes. Those five words are the hardest ones I’ve had to say lately. It begs the question, who gives back an adorable puppy? Monsters? People that hate cute and fluffy things?
A few weeks ago I uttered the words I would soon grow to regret. “We’ll take a puppy!” As time grew closer, I bought all the puppy necessities, sat with my children as we chose a name, and listened to the hopes and dreams all of my people had for this new creature. And then we brought him home.
I have already raised five children and one dog. It isn’t like I’m completely new at this. But somehow I didn’t see the stress, anxiety, and tears coming. So they hit me hard and out of nowhere. With the addition of each child to our family, there was a period of depression. I had good support so I never went completely off the cliff, but I learned over time that my body required medication and my heart required help. As this new little pup chewed on my couch, chased my kids, pooped and peed on my rugs, and whined for hours, I felt myself falling into the familiar feeling of suffocation. I quickly realized that my impulsive move was adding stress to my marriage and causing me to snap at my kids. I made the difficult and guilt inducing decision to call the friend and ask her to take her puppy back. I spent the entire day filled with regret and hosted an entire monologue in my brain about what a horrible person I was for returning a puppy.
My friend was gracious, even thrilled to have the tiny man back at her home. But the guilt has spilled over into today. Part of me feels relieved. Part of me wants to cry because I actually miss the little rugrat. I want to change my mind forty more times, and I have had to hug tearful children that don’t understand why my bandwidth had to be too small for a new puppy.
It has made me question a lot of things about my life lately. I have carried a desire to serve Jesus in hard places for a long time. I love rushing in to help out in difficult spaces. I’ve begged my husband to let us be family for foster children and I’ve endlessly researched “Safe Families,” with the hope of providing respite care for parents that are overwhelmed. The only thing I could think of when making the decision to give up the puppy was that some men and women are forced to make that decision about an actual child. My heart now feels crushed for the dialogue they must have fought through after that deep of a loss. If I feel this way after a puppy, how does someone feel when they can’t manage parenting momentarily or forever? I want to hug that person. I want to scream, “I SEE YOU!” I didn’t understand your pain. I still don’t. But I got a glimpse and it was too painful.
If I’m being honest, I worry that God was trying to show me through this that I don’t have what it takes to help people in crisis with their children. I don’t want this to be true. I want to believe that God has big beautiful things for me to join Him in. I want to believe that he will allow me to be part of someone’s healing. But for today, I sit with feelings of inadequacy and guilt. I am in process. I know the truth. I know who God is, what He has done, and who he says I am. But the harsh words are currently louder.
If you are also in a space of guilt and pain, I am a safe place to land. Please let me know if I can help and how you need support.