Except I didn't fall in love. I'm okay that he's around, but that's mainly because of how happy he makes our other dog. The other dog whom I love without abandon, whose face -- dirty from her new bad habit of digging that she learned from the puppy -- I can kiss and caress ad infinitum like a canine devotee.
I want to love the puppy. I really do. I stare at his yellow eyes and long snout and frenetically-moving legs and concentrate really hard ("love him, love him, love him") until my head hurts and I finally give up feeling an odd mix of failure and resentment. All of which gets me thinking: is this how spouses feel when they fall out of love, or maybe how a parent feels when they like one of their kids a whole lot more than the other?
Thankfully, I'm not in either boat, but this experience with the puppy has allowed me to viscerally imagine both scenarios. It has also got me wondering, what do you do in those situations? I guess you would eventually leave your spouse or bury your feelings or stare at their crows feet and saggy skin and concentrate really hard ("love her, love her, love her") and hope that one day you'll wake up and at least be okay that she's around, mainly because of how happy she makes your kids.
But what if you really don't like one of your kids nearly as much as the others? As a parent you constantly get glimpses of what this is like: one kid is getting on your last nerve (made raw by the annoying new puppy) while the other is simultaneously doing the dishes while telling you what a great mom you are. And, the next day it's reversed, and a few days after that you decide that both are angels and that no two greater beings have ever graced this planet. Until one does something annoying again, and so it goes. Yet throughout this role-reversing roller coaster you actually never love one less or, if anything, you actually love the broken one more until all that evens out, too.
Which brings me back to the puppy.
Last night my husband -- whose feelings for the dog are guiltless indifference -- shared with me that his co-worker is willing to take the puppy off our hands, which should have made me happy.
"His daughters saw a picture, and they think he's just the cutest."
Instead, it accomplished more in an instant than all the hours of staring at my dog like the Amazing Kreskin could ever have done: it threw a match at my ever-smoldering maternal instinct.
So while my love is not bubbling over yet, at least there's enough of a spark that makes me realize that I am more fond of his yellow eyes, long snout, and frenetic feet than I realized.
And maybe, just maybe that's enough.