Passing on Responsibility
Growing up I faintly remember my parents mumbling, “Well, she’s YOUR daughter!” This phrase often accompanied a dramatic episode in the household where I threw typical teenage tantrums or fought with my brother. My father said it when it suited him and vice-a-versa for my mother. My parents took turns solving dramas or handling disputes and this phrase was their tag-team motto.
“Passing on the responsibility” is what my mother would call it. She said one day I would understand…
I have been happily married now for almost five years. As of yet, we have no children but intend to when the timing is right (if it ever is). About 4.5 years ago we adopted a quirky dog named Tofu. He has shown up in many of my posts like this one and this one. He has very odd and somewhat disturbing habits like staring at walls and scaring the crap out of us both with his blank, expressionless stare. Nevertheless, we have grown to love our fur baby.
When we decided to go to the shelter, I had in the back of my mind that this shared responsibility of another living creature would be great prep for a human infant. If we could keep Tofu living, breathing, and non-traumatized, I would consider myself ready to try for a baby. We tackled the challenge as dutiful “parents” to be.
To this day, Tofu is in near perfect health (with a few occasional skipped teeth cleanings). He has taught us valuable lessons in shared responsibility and patience.
You see, Tofu doesn’t care if you are trying to sleep after a night shift. If he has needs, he makes them known. He has no compassion for your quiet time, if he wants to play, he drags soggy toys into your clean bedding. If you happen to not feed him exactly on schedule, he will most certainly let you know it. How you ask? With an insanely irritating and aggravating low, raspy, smoker bark that should not come from a 17lb Jack Russel mix.
As months turned into years, I noticed the famous saying my mother and father exchanged pop up often. After a night shift and a deep desire for sleep, Tofu’s barking would lead me to whine, “He’s YOUR dog today!” When my husband drags himself home after a four-day trip and Tofu wants to walk for the 16th time, he retorts with, “He’s YOUR dog!”
We share the responsibility, sometimes not equally, but shared none-the-less. I know Tofu will never “grow out of” his constant need for care. He is a dog. The lessons in patience and caring for another creature have put my mind at ease as we plan to start a family. Will a baby be 100 times harder? I am not sure but I’m going to assume so.
I do know this, the expression “He’s YOUR son,” or “She’s YOUR daughter,” will most likely live on in our family. It was never said in a harmful manner then or now. I look forward to the challenges of shared responsibility when raising our future offspring. How have you managed responsibility when raising another creature?