Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Puppy Days of Summer

If I had to write you an essay about my summer, I’d probably start with the word “blur,” the details spreading a hazy sweaty smear across the page.

But then I’d sigh and write, “Then there were the puppies.”

The first puppy came on a day when all the people in my house (including me) were a little bit lonely. We opted for a walk through the neighborhood, blue hopeful sky stretched above our sad feelings, praying on the way for a new friend. We walked by a house where a woman called out to us, asking if my kids wanted to meet her puppy. We also met her kids, two of which are the same ages/gender as two of mine. The friendship has continued into mutual visits, dress-up playing, toy airplane zooming and sharing between two women trying to figure out life, motherhood, and dreams.

Then our next door neighbor’s two female dogs had a combined 14 of them a few weeks ago. Fourteen puppies! There’s something so abundant about so many puppies. You look from one adorable one, to the next, then the next and it’s all just too much. It’s this richness that makes me drop everything every time our neighbor piles them into a laundry basket and carries them to our yard.

So, our summer days have been filled with our neighbor puppies on swings and slides and inside bicycle baskets. Mix in there trying to keep 3-year-old Eric from attacking them with a floppy sword, his giggles bordering on evil. And sprinkle in some hearing Renea wish she and her Indonesian friend

, Esther, could switch places. “She has puppies, Mom!”

I get in there, too, as the puppies conniving sleepy cuteness forces me to slow down and get nothing done while I stare from their furry faces to my daughter’s own curl-ringed one.

Our summer has been filled with other things too. Some things not so fun—sleep-robbing back pain
for Brad, ongoing fatigue for me, separation from family in the States during tough times, operations that aren’t easy to keep going, goodbyes with special friends, and trying (many times unsuccessfully) to respond to needs in the midst of limitations and broken systems.  Some really great—like visitors, new friends, hikes, exploring and discovering new things in town like the donut shop and the water park. And then there are the continued daily lessons that we are tired, but loved; limited, but eternal; small, but incredibly significant.

Summer break ends “early” here. It wrapped up right after the end of Ramadan in July, the local Indonesian kids back to their six-day-a-week schools. I plan to line up our own homeschooling to match theirs, hoping for less screaming over reading lessons this semester. The puppies will get bigger soon, and hopefully our neighbor girl knows that we don’t want these 14 puppies to play in our yard everyday as full-grown dogs. (She plans to sell them soon, anyway.)

These puppies remind me that some things are fleeting—the puppy days of summer—and should be embraced and chased with eagerness in these limited moments. And they remind me of other things—like kids and friends and an abundance of joy even in the midst of the hard stuff. And these, too, should be collected with near greed. Drop everything to gather them in your arms and squeeze them tight.


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