I love my ex. I really do. Jordan and I aren’t in love anymore but we are still each other’s family. Though our break up wasn’t without paralyzing pain, the foundation of mutual love and respect still exists and we still share our greatest joys and sorrows with one another.
And we share our dog.
You hear nightmare stories of doggie-parents breaking up and suing one another for custody. Even worse – dogs being abandoned to shelters because no amicable agreement can be made with regard to their care. I became so aware of the need for shared-custody arrangements for former couples that my company offers pet taxi-ing services for exes who share custody but prefer to not to interact with one another.
But Jordan and I knew that a shared custody arrangement had to happen – for our sakes and for Governor Monkey. So that he still got in all of his hikes, road trips, and farmer-direct specialty food pick-ups. It meant that, in spite of our love mistakes, our innocent pup could go on with his life without too much stressful interruption.
Nonetheless, the day I smelled a woman’s perfume as I bent down to kiss my dog’s head, I had no idea how to react. While we are both aware of one another’s dating lives being in existence, it was still jarring. Right there, literally in my face, was proof.
My dog might have a step-mom.
Now, for those of you with human children, you might think this entire line of thinking is ridiculous. You might wonder why someone else in my dog’s life would even matter. But my pets are my babies. I spend heaps of time training my animals, worrying about them, making their food, understanding what every single facial twitch means. So when I allow for the human emotions of jealousy and fear to enter the picture, my mind goes wild – I imagine Governor Monkey unmonitored around his new step-mom’s children and biting them when they touch is displastic hips. I picture her feeding him from the table. Or him curling up at night in her bed and it makes me just feel, well, icky. I create scenarios and stories in my mind of everything she is doing to un-do all of my hard work for my baby boy.
When sharing human children, it is perfectly logical and acceptable to have rules you about what your kids are and are not allowed to do whilst with your ex and their potential new beau. Said list might not seem obsessive and crazy. Yet, if I typed out a list of all of the vocab Gov knows, the differences between “leave it” and “drop it,” and the fact that I never say “no” to him (only “oops”) in my ardent commitment to positive-reinforcement training. . . Am I even going to be taken seriously?
I used to feel guilty when my ex-boyfriend would walk Governor. That, in some way, it was unfair to Jordan. Or worse, that Jordan would see our dog out with him, and feel that same pang I felt when I smelled that unfamiliar perfume . But then I realized – anyone who is going to be a part of my life is going to have Gov in it – and the same simply had to be true for Jordan if our custody arrangement was to remain fair. Who am I to worry about Governor Monkey having a step-mom when he’s happily cavorting on vacation with me and my boyfriend?
Ultimately, I’ve learned that I cannot control everything. And that that isn’t always a bad thing. I support Jordan and her right to move on and find love again. I want that for her. That necessarily includes accepting that Gov is going to someday, have a step-mom. And that woman will play a role in Gov’s life over which I will have little-to-no say. Just like parents of human children, Jordan and I must hope that the priorities and commitments we have set for our dog’s health, behaviors and overall well-being will carry over even when one of us is not present. I can spend my time wringing my hands and being controlling, or I could even not allow Gov to go with Jordan on her weekend trips to see the “other woman.” However, I’m well aware that when he does, he gets to run around on the beach and be doted upon by the woman’s young son, all of which thrills him. My other option is to be open to my dog giving to others the amazing gifts of “love” and to him receiving the same from those around him . Including from a step-parent.
No one else will ever be Gov’s mom (two is plenty). But if he is likely to have a step-dad, then it’s only fair that he’s also allowed to have a step-mom, too.
Now I just need for the other woman to wear a less floral perfume.