Nature has a special way of providing us with the lessons we need, if we listen. While I practiced attachment parenting, I was in no way a helicopter parent. I felt my children needed to explore the world and gain independence while still under my wing of protection. As my teens began hanging out with friends, joining more activities, or working jobs, it felt like a gift was given to me to emotionally start the process of preparing for the day they are gone. My husband and I began spending more time together, I found other hobbies I enjoyed doing myself, and I began working full-time. Nature has been preparing me for the day my two lovely children are no longer in our home because it knows that it will leave a huge ache.
Izzy, AKA: #MyForeverToddler, has a way of doing the same for me. At almost 14, she is slowly preparing me for the end of her life. In the last seven months, we have gone from walking about 2 miles a day to .25 miles. After so many years of doing everything in my power to burn up her energy, it has been challenging to keep our walks to a limit. I have missed the time we spend outdoors and have stopped longer walks myself. I feel lonely without her. Yet, a conversation with my daughter reminded me the other day that I am a walker. It is not only a physical activity for me, it is how I work out the challenges of life.
So, off I have been going in the morning. I take Izzy out on her 1/4 mile walk where she reminds me to stop and smell the grass. Then, I drop her off at home and head out on a walk myself. Today, I realized I needed these last few months of not walking alone. I needed the time to prepare myself emotionally for when she is gone. Like my children, she is preparing me in slow waves. It’s like she is saying, “Get used to me not being on walks with you while I am still here for you to come home to and pet.”
She’s preparing me in other ways. In the past, I could say, “Let’s go take a nap.” She would pounce up the stairs and hop on the bed ready to join me in a nap. She followed me up and down the stairs everywhere I went. Today, she stays close to my desk, but on one floor of the house except at night. She will cautiously take the six stairs up to our bedroom for the night but that is the only time and it is not comfortable.
Preparing for the end of a time period you have loved, whether with your children or with your border collie, is not easy. It takes time to process the various feelings that come up. Fortunately, I have both my children and my sweet Izzy under my roof for now giving me baby steps to prepare for another day.