When I was a stay-at-home mom with young children, every day was a unique, though not necessarily exciting, adventure. No matter how hard I tried to establish routines, my days never had anything close to the predictable routine I was used to when I worked in an office. Sometimes before he left in the morning, my husband would ask me, “What’s on your agenda today?” And I would promptly answer, “Laundry.” At that time, it was the one constant in my life. Whatever else the day brought me, I knew it would include laundry.
The sad thing was that I hated doing laundry. I like jobs that can be neatly checked off of a to-do list, and not have to be faced on a continuing basis. But no matter how many loads of wash I did, the laundry basket just filled right back up. Often before sunset. It was a job I could never actually complete.
Now that the kids are grown and out of the house, I have lots of laundry-free days, but I’m still dealing with a task that, no matter how hard I work at it, feels as if it is never-ending. Now that I have more time on my hands, I spend three days a week walking dogs at our local Humane Society. And although I enjoy walking dogs much more than I did washing clothes, there is still the sense that I am swimming upstream with no end in sight. Because the one thing that an open admission shelter always has is a constant stream of new dogs who need to be walked, trained, socialized, etc., while they are waiting for their turn to be adopted.
There are many mornings when I happily head down to the shelter, looking forward to seeing the dogs and some of my friends. But there are other mornings when I just don’t want to go down there and face the dozens of homeless dogs who are waiting to be walked. Sometimes I don’t feel physically strong enough to deal with the big rowdy dogs; other times I don’t feel emotionally strong enough to deal with the abused or neglected dogs who huddle, trembling, in the back of their runs; and other days I just don’t want to risk finding out that, once again, we don’t really have enough volunteers to properly take care of all the dogs who depend on us.
But just like the laundry basket all those years ago, the Humane Society is something I can’t ignore. Now that I know of the need that exists down there, now that I have actually handled shelter dogs and seen how much a positive difference my time, and the time of the other volunteers, makes in their lives, I can’t turn my back on it. So I keep going down there, even on the mornings I don’t want to, and walk the dogs. I can’t say I always do it cheerfully, although on most days something happens…usually a moment of connection with a dog or another person…that makes me glad I showed up after all, but I do it. Because I realize now that I’m in this for the long haul.
I saw a quote on Facebook once by Mary Ann Radmacher that said, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” That pretty much sums it up for me.