I have a large dog, an eighty-pound Golden Retriever with one of those big block heads, and he is just the tiniest bit maniacally, single-mindedly fixated on me, the only mother he remembers. An Anne Lamott line about her toddler son gazing at her ‘like a mournful fiancee’ once sent me running up all the stairs in my house to tell my husband ‘This! This is how it feels!’ Linus adores my husband too–is in fact prone to sitting up chocolate-bunny-style to hug him around the neck–but he is engaged to marry me. By 6 a.m. most mornings he has draped himself over me like a lead apron, so that his shoebox head is the first thing I see when I open my eyes. And this intensity of affection can be kind of a lot, especially when you’re hung over on a Saturday morning and not really up for hiking in the park or tossing the spitty tennis ball or whatever else dogs like to do on a romantic weekend with their mom. How many Saturdays have I done my best to be a great mom to that galumphing, joyous creature with no sense whatsoever of my own joy, no pleasure watching him run and roll on his back and make friends and make a fool of himself? Just waiting for the moment I can lie back down, or get a greasy meal, or wait out the sick feelings in a dark movie theater?
I mention this because it occurred to me about an hour ago that I never have to be hung over on a Saturday morning again if I don’t want to be. I might not wake up peppy, or ready to be the center of someone’s world, or even feeling well-rested, but I could choose to never again wonder on a Friday night if my head will be pounding come eight a.m. And that’s amazing. That choice seems like the definition of freedom to me right now.