for the pack

I feel like a southerner that never really gets to see snow. My least favorite season is winter, by a landslide, but if it’s going to be cold, I’d prefer a fresh blanket of the white stuff. This morning, in minute quantity, I got my wish. The kids acted like it was the blizzard of 2010.

Our two labs, Jesse and Dempsey, loved it as well and bounded around the backyard while we went through our morning routine. Every now and then, they’d show up at the back door as if to say with snow-covered noses, “What’s wrong with you guys? Why aren’t you out here playing?”

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Finn’s reference to a snowbank reminded me of our old girl, Harley, our sweet Rottweiler German Sheppard mix who died in 2007. The night before, a Thursday, Mike had gone to a Bears’ game. It was really snowing outside and the yard was full. Harley disappeared in it late-night, after the kids had gone to bed, but before Mike came home. It was unlike her to go out for hours in her old age, so after awhile, I went out to look for her.

I found her buried in a snowbank. She had tunneled her way into a cozy spot near the back of the yard. I thought she was being silly and after some coaxing, I was able to get her back inside. Soon I realized something was wrong and in the morning, we went straight to the vet. A spontaneous, un-fixable GI bleed was what took this gentle giant from us and it nearly killed Mike and I to help her go.

I learned later that pack animals are always thinking about the well-being of their pack. Harley knew more than I did that night, and it her effort to protect her pack, she went as far away as she could to die. But you see, I’m a pack animal, too. Always looking out for my pack, I thwarted her efforts and brought her back to us, making sure she felt loved and cared for and leaving me feeling satisfied that my pack was intact.

Just like pack animals, we all make sacrifices for our pack’s greater good every day. Right now, my kids are bummed about my increase in work hours, so much so that they’ve told me about it. They think they’d prefer June Cleaver at the door with warm cookies as opposed to Molly Anderson with a “Do Not Disturb” note on the office door. I know better that they’ll benefit from a mom who is challenged on all fronts, but try as I might, I find it hard to avoid conference calls at 3:00 pm! And even though they’re not thrilled about the changes, I still love and feel grateful for every minute.

At the beginning of this post, I thought I’d be comparing Harley’s sacrifice to my own, and I am giving up some things for the exciting career challenges in my life. But for now, I think the real sacrifice is the one the kiddos are making for the pack. For Team Anderson’s greater good.

I know it’s okay and that they’ll be better off for it, but nothing comes easy, does it? Being a Mom is truly the most complicated thing there is. Finding balance, keeping  yourself in the mix and your kids at the root of every thought and decision is the hardest and most rewarding gig around.

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