Guilt, as always, the gift that keeps on giving

As I prepare to leave town for a few days, my dogs’ anxiety rises exponentially to the amount of departure activity in which I engage. First there is the strange person who shows up to learn how to feed and medicate them. Then there is the appearance of the suitcase. Then there is mom’s mournful moping through the house while apologizing to the birds for leaving them for a week. It is all topped off by mom letting the dogs have way more treats than could ever possibly be healthy for them.

That’s the way it is in my home when I leave for a while. The guilt that follows me to the airport as I replay the sad faces I left behind at the front door, tails wagging slowly with a dirge-like cadence, all but compels me to demand the driver turn around so I can run home and assure my little family I will never, ever leave them again.

For at least the first few days I am away from them, the routine of our life together constantly intrudes on me, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I think to myself that if I were home right now I’d be cleaning the bird cages, or playing with Sassy or walking the dogs. Every waking moment I am reminded of what a master my mother was at using guilt as an acceptable tool to raise a child. It worked amazingly well.