Late Night Surgery

I just completed stealth emergency surgery on my son’s stuffed cocker spaniel. The eye is a little off kilter, and the stitches show more than I would like, but the stuffing has been returned to the little brown head. If I’m lucky, my boy will have no idea of what really happened to his puppy.

“Guess what!” I’ll say at breakfast, cheerful as can be. “Onyx was chewing on Fiddler. Can you believe that silly dog?” Then I’ll show off my clumsy needle work and go back to pouring cereal.

For a moment, I was horrified when I walked into the bedroom. Onyx, the real life black lab, likes to sleep on Josh’s bed, which is usually no problem. He also likes to chew stuffed animals and shoes, but that’s generally only when he wants attention. The bed is a sea of stuffed animals. I should have known that one day I would find a half-deflated puppy between the dog’s paws and a pile of polyester stuffing on the floor.

They are not a predictable bunch, dogs and children. We love the dog, except when he grabs a friend’s eyeglasses from the table or mangles the housekeeper’s cell phone. We love the children too, regardless of tantrums, misplaced soccer cleats and the general confusion of adolescence.

Often, I’m winging it, glossing over stuffed animal disasters, acting like I know how to mend a bruised ego or make mushroom soup without a recipe. Most of my improvisation proves both convincing and effective. That’s motherhood for you.

The house is noisy and often messy. The kitchen smells like roasted peppers and lasagna. Everyone is sleeping now. I will return the stuffed dog to his owner’s bed, and all will be well … at least until tomorrow.

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