Photography by Kayte Demont
The other day, tragedy struck. I gave a massage at my home office, and my dog, a collie named Ember, got into an open container of massage creme. It’s happened before (because sometimes you need to learn lessons the hard way MORE than once), so I knew what to expect. Lots of rear end illness. That night, she panted and cried and urged me to let her outside (okay, not true, my incredible boyfriend let her out, while I slept like a precious, baby angel) EVERY 45 MINUTES. ALL NIGHT. The following day, my poor baby smelled terrible and we discovered that the culprit was residual excrement stuck in the fur around her tail. Eek. I might be a little dramatic in saying this is one of those “Why, God?” moments, but I live a charmed life, and this is how “tragedy” manifests for me lately.
So, because this discovery was made at 9:00pm, it didn’t make sense to make an emergency appointment with the groomer. I had to handle it myself. I took my girl into the bathroom, and put her in the tub (this dog is as big as I am, so this is no easy feat), recruited help from my boyfriend to hold her and pet her while I went after her tail with shampoo and the movable shower head. So much hair. So much poop. Poor Ember was shaking like a leaf. I couldn’t see her eyes, but this particular situation has happened enough times in her ten years of life that I could picture the look. Defeated. Desperate. Violated. (She’s as dramatic as me). We got her out, toweled her off, and she was good as new in about 30 seconds. The whole ordeal, though dreaded on both my part and hers, was quick and relatively painless. The whole time I was washing her, imagining the dead look in her eyes, I was thinking about how much love I have for this animal, and wondered if she would feel differently if she really knew it. If love is measured in how up close and personal you’re willing to get with your dog’s butt in order to make them clean and happy and safe, mine is infinite.
And then it occurred to me, how many labors of love have been done for my ultimate good that I’ve resented in the moment but because of them I’ve been much better off? I haven’t lived with my parents for a long time, so it’s coming much less from them, and much more from myself. I imagine the same is true for you. You clean your house, do your laundry, comb your hair, exercise, eat healthy food, go to your job so you can make money, honor commitments that you’ve made with friends even when you’re tired, and try to get enough sleep. Each and every one of these things has potential to be irritating, grinding even. But how much happier are we in the long run when we’re hydrated, exercised, and fed physically, emotionally, and spiritually?? What we so lovingly refer to as “adulting” is really a daily labor of love that we’re doing for ourselves. We’ve become our own mom, our own loving caretaker to witness our shit, crawl elbow deep in it, and wash it away so that we can be happy and safe. Ain’t that some shit?
The next time you’re dreading or resenting something that you really don’t want to do, remember why you’re doing it. Keep your eyes on the prize, and repeat in your head, “I’m doing this because I love you.”