Monday, June 25, 2012

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

I only knew my father-in-law in his later years, but I expect that to some degree, his crotchetiness was part of his personality throughout his life.  He had a blame-the-world attitude; he never would take responsibility for any of his own mistakes.  Perhaps the biggest example of this was his second marriage: he married a woman who was blatantly interested in him only has a meal ticket.  His sons warned him, but he blew off their advice and married her.  And then when (of course) the marriage didn't work out, he carried on about how if he "woulda known..." he would have done things differently.  But he did know (or at least he was told, by people he should have trusted) and he married her anyway.  And so I couldn't have sympathy for any of his self-pity.

I try not to indulge in these "woulda, shoulda, coulda" fantasies, and I am bothered when my husband follows in his father's footsteps.  Most recently, he has been agonizing about our decision to bring an (unbelievably adorable) puppy into our home.  DH is mildly allergic to dogs, and it turns out, our younger son, the official dog owner, is also, although we didn't discover this until we had found the perfect pup and made arrangements to adopt him.

DH's allergies appear to have shifted into high gear, giving him difficulty breathing with the dog around.  But he's never had this response to being with a dog before -- although he has had a similar experience that was unrelated to dogs -- so are his symptoms really precipitated by the pup, or could there be another cause?  I want to take a wait-and-see approach; he wants to warn our son immediately that the dog might have to go.

Our son seems to be doing fine.  He is recovering from a cold and so took both Tylenol and cough medicine last night, but he was doing that a week before the dog arrived, so I doubt the pup is the problem.  But DH insists that it is and has been carrying on about how we shoulda done things differently and used our younger son's allergy test results as a reason not to get a dog, and that furthermore, we need to start preparing him for the possibility (or maybe even, eventuality in DH's mind) that the dog might have to go.

I'm not ok with this.  We've done almost nothing with regard to the advice we've received for lessening dog allergies, so there's lots to try before we give up.  I'm horrified that DH isn't feeling well, but there are lots of other possible and even probable explanations.  And I am extremely uncomfortable with constantly revisiting past decisions and mourning the idea that we didn't go down other possible paths.  We did what we did.  We can't change the past.  Let's move on.

I'm also fearful that given an event that happened last night, DH's motives might be suspect in our son's eyes.  Here's the story: housebreaking a dog isn't easy.  It's time-consuming, laborious, and requires lots of patience.  The pup doesn't always like to go out -- and he isn't a big fan of long walks up the hill near our home.  He also is just getting used to the process of holding his bladder.  So last night when he peed right outside our door (instead of walking a bit further away), DH was annoyed that our son hadn't exerted better control.  Ok I agree that it was regrettable, but let's learn the lesson and move on.  Instead DH argued with our son and threatened to get rid of the dog if YS doesn't train him better.  This is exactly a threat that was made often to DH by his father and I was appalled that knowing how much the ongoing threat bothered him, that he would pass it on to his own son.  So with all that in mind, it seems impossible to have a conversation about allergies making dog ownership tough, and not have it interpreted by our YS as "dad wants to get rid of my beloved pet."

I just read the 7 Secrets of High-Energy People.  I want to have the kind of get-up-and-go described, and #4 Bid Farewell to Guilt and Regret really resonates with me as a good way to live.  I just don't see how it is useful to dwell on what might have happened if you had done things differently.

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