It's entirely possible that a certain very hot place has indeed frozen over. At least, that's my husband's theory for the unfathomable thing that has happened in our house. Mom has agreed to get a dog.
I may as well be saying that I have decided to shave my head and get a tattoo. Few things were less likely to happen in the Zach family. Getting a dog was just not in the picture for so many reasons, the main one being I don't like dogs. I have more than enough on my plate keeping up with three kids. Why would I add an animal to that?
We've placated the pleadings for a pet in half-hearted ways over the years. We tried Beta fish. Pretty, but not exactly cuddly and they have a nasty habit of developing bulging growths. The hermit crab was shockingly stinky. We thought it died but it had just moulted. Then it died for real.
In a really magnanimous moment I agreed to looking after the pre-school hamster for the summer. A pet for the summer that goes back to school in August - a low commitment, win-win situation I reasoned. I would get kudos for hosting a pet in our home and the kids could try out pet ownership and see that it was a lot of work. Snow the Hamster never went back to pre-school and we inadvertently became bona fide pet-with-fur owners.
It's a slippery slope but I was digging in with all my heartless toenails and fingernails. I had no problem coldly staring down the pleading eyes:
"Why can't we get a dog, mom?"
"Because we're not getting a dog."
"Please, please, please can I have a dog?"
"Of course you can. When you have your own house and your own job, you can have as many dogs as you want."
So it was in the Zach household for many years. Resolved, not reconsidered. Until my husband broke rank.
"Daddy says he would get a dog and that he's working on you," my 8 year old informed me.
"Oh, really? Well let him try."
Daddy actually knew better.
So truly, it is inexplicable that I find myself researching breeds and figuring out how to rescue a dog. I've put "The Dog Whisperer" at the top of our Netflix queue and I make everyone sit down and watch it. I brought home five books on how to train a dog from the library today. I sit down to work at my computer and the next thing I know I'm checking out Petfinder.com. I'm more invested in this than the kids now. Who is this woman??
There are some theories. I just turned 40 so perhaps this is some sort of warped expression of maternal desires. I'm not really buying that one. My friend (a fellow holdout and now bewildered new dog owner herself) theorizes that we are no longer wiping anyone else's bottom so now we have the capacity for a pet. Maybe. The most plausible explanation is that I have a brain tumor. I've been getting headaches.
The bottom line is this: I just love my kids. I love them so much it hurts. I love them so much I'm willing to set aside some of my comfort and preferences and do something that will really make them very happy. And I'm willing to concede that a dog could bring me some joy, too.
Being a parent helps me understand in small ways the nature of God's love for us. In our love for our kids we catch the faintest glimmer of the true essence of the love that is at the heart of this coming Easter week. We can start to comprehend the incomprehensible; we sense the vast potential of sacrificial love. I love my kids so much I'm willing to get them a dog...
For God so loved the world, he gave his only Son...
• Jennifer Zach lives in Ahwatukee Foothills with her husband and three children. They are members of Bridgeway Community Church. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.