Sunday, October 13, 2013

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

No matter what I tell people I do there's a good chance they'll think it's awesome. Maybe not because of what I do, exactly, but because of how they imagine it. Or because they think working for yourself means you have the easiest job in the world, no matter what you do.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but I'd like to set the record straight.

Working for yourself is no picnic. In fact, my boss is awful. She never gives me a day off, although I may get to start work an hour late on weekends. There are no sick days unless I'm unable to get out of bed and then, well, never mind, there are no sick days. Vacations, well, that's only if there is no work -- can't be assigning your duties to someone else. No holidays. No sympathy. No praise. Just get the job done.

The trade off is my wardrobe is whatever the heck I feel like wearing a lot of the time. I have been known to go out and meet a morning drop off in my pajamas, but only if they are regulars who won't think less of me for it. I do try to put on a clean outfit occasionally, but most mornings my wardrobe has been previously worn because dogs in the morning aren't necessarily really clean. They're so happy to see you and careless about where they put their feet. Makeup is not required, nor a spiffy hairdo, because dogs require no impressing and people who want you to take care of their dogs aren't looking for madam professional. Comfort and ease of cleanup are the rules.

Then there are the people who are just enamored by the fact that you take care of dogs. Wow! That sounds like so much fun. It's like having 20 dogs of your own! All that love and petting. You get to walk them and play with them. Awesome!

And all that is true, but it's like running a daycare with children who don't wear diapers and aren't potty trained. They are jealous for my attention. Some don't play well with others. Some are ok as long as they don't get too excited. Some just want to be held. Some are eager to pick a fight and show who's boss. A walk can be a smooth trip down the road, or it can be a literal trip. Lots of dogs don't know how to get along with other dogs or walk in a straight line.

Then there's the part you don't think about. Once in a while a dog gets a little stressed. When he or she does, the frequent result is a closed area... Yep, cleanup and a good airing out for the kennel as well as apologies to everyone who had to smell it. And maybe a bath for the dog. And me.

Even when they go where they should, there's a lot of pooh to be picked up and disposed of on a regular basis. My shoes suffer a great deal and Crocs or knockoffs are the best, most washable option.

And that's just my regular job.

There's also the joy of keeping my three granddaughters, which I would not trade for anything. But the experience of being a "when I want them" grandma, versus a "when the parents are working" ma is two different things.

When you think about getting to spend a lot of time with your grandchildren (or even your children), it can be enveloped in a rosy haze of love and sweetness. There's baking and flowers and playing on the swings and reading.

And there may be all of that, but it's after dealing with part A of my day, so I may be tired. And they aren't always in the best of moods. And I do have to say no -- a lot. Because just like the dogs there is jealousy, getting too excited or tired, and poop in inappropriate places. If we all end the day on a positive note with good memories (and I know my memories will last longer than theirs) then it's been a good day.

Sometimes I don't quite achieve that and feel like a miserable failure. But there's always the next day to try and get it right.

So before you envy me my "stay at home grandma, dog lover" jobs, think about walking a mile in my shoes.

I was up at 7 a.m. Sunday cleaning up dog poop? What were you doing?

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