All I have to do is place my hand over the basket holding the leashes and Summer and Koda begin dancing with excitement. We have established routines that are fairly consistent, including taking a long three mile walk around the neighborhood loop. There are days that I have to take a shorter route due to time constraints or inclement weather. Most often this long walk is during the early afternoon. Dogs cannot tell time, but I do believe they understand the flow of our day. Ever since they were young puppies I created the same routine.
It begins with morning snuggles, ear rubs, kisses, and deep back massages. They yawn and stretch during this love fest. Then they go out in the back yard for a quick relief and run-around. They are back at the door, eager for breakfast. They know what to expect next, it’s quiet coffee and reading time on the sofa under blankets. At least they know that is what Mama is doing, and so they curl up at my feet and at my side to take in this peaceful part of the routine. If I had started them as morning walkers from the beginning then they would have restlessly expected a walk when I was still reading and writing in my pjs. I am glad I set the expectations a long time ago.
I learned, as a mother of four children, that routines and traditions are set early on. Whatever you do for the oldest, each of the younger kids think that’s what will happen for them. Everything from Tooth Fairy currency to birthday milestone gifts all get compared. I am guilty of perpetuating these traditions and meeting these expectations. Sometimes there are things that feel so right at the time, and then you realize you have set a precedent that poses a challenge to continue. Being the loving Mama Bear that I am, I never want any of my younger cubs to feel slighted because I ran out of energy or time.
I’m feeling a little pressure at the moment because several of our family celebratory traditions are stacking up. My third child graduates from college in May, followed by the baby of the family graduating from high school in June. I have my work cut out for me. For our first two children graduation from college, I made them each a movie with clips from their toddler days, school days and college years. The hour long movies were fun to make as I sat in front of my computer reliving all those adorable moments of cookie decorating, talent shows, and soccer games. I had the video camera on a tripod often just recording them playing dress-ups, putting on a show, and riding bikes in the driveway. The editing and adding of music from their lives takes quite a long time for this technologically challenged Mama Bear. I’ve got two months to complete it. Then at the same time, my youngest son is expecting the “School Days Album” which documents preschool through 12th grade with snapshots and keepsakes. It’s kind of a spread-it-all-out-on-the-floor kind of project with scissors and tape. The challenge with this youngest child is A. Finding photographs and B. Half of his childhood went digital. I’ve maid a lot of progress on the collecting already, and should make the June deadline fine.
Expectations are ok when you are determined to deliver on them. My shelf has a set of three great “School Days Albums” that will be complete with the fourth very soon. My cloud storage will add a third long movie featuring my 22 year old son. Both children will be excited to follow in the footsteps of their older siblings, staying true to our family traditions. Meanwhile, I will try hard to not skip any long walks with Koda and Summer, since they have come to expect and enjoy them.