My daughter Megan turned 10 yesterday, and my husband Rob and I planned a party at her favorite pizza place. On the morning of her birthday, Rob got called in to work for an emergency project. This happens a lot at his job. He assured me he would be at the restaurant in time for the party, so we moved forward with it rather than postpone. 30 minutes before the party started, he called and told us that he would be working late to meet the deadline, and couldn’t make the party. He apologized profusely, but my daughter was devastated. She put on a brave face for her friends and tried her best to enjoy the party. Abby, I’m mad enough to spit nails. His work always seems to get in the way of these life events, and I am afraid he will eventually wind up alienating Meg. I’m not in a speaking mood right now, but when I am, how do you suggest I handle this?
Tired of it in Tacoma
As a dog, I want to give a very simple answer to this question, but mom found something really cool that I want to share as part of it. Some people believe that we dogs get super excited when you come home because we are just excitable or we were bored. The truth is that we get really excited when our people come home because we LOVE them. A recent study done at Azabu University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Sagamihara, Japan proved that dogs get a spike of the same hormone — oxytocin — as humans when they are bonding. This oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone” because it is what increases when humans hug, kiss, and do other lovey-dovey things. It is also the hormone that surges when a mother gazes into her baby’s eyes — and now they proved that it happens when I gaze into my mom’s eyes. Cool, huh? They say that this bonding is fundamental to civilization and that no one would ever be able to build trust or care for others without it.
The thing is, you have to be present to win.
I am sorry to hear that Megan’s dad does not understand what is most important in this world. I understand how important work is and that humans sometimes believe that it is more important than anything else — but what are they working for? When I fetch the paper or tell mom the mailman is here, I do it because I like my job and I want to help the family. But, I would never put any of those things above just being with my mom, dad, and cats. If I could not find a way to do both, I would find another way to help the family so I could be there for them when they need me. Another thing that really helps is that my family tells me often how much they appreciate both what I do and when I am with them. Make sure you tell Rob this, too.
Maybe you can show him this letter to remind him. If there is one thing we dogs get right, it is prioritizing our time to be there for the ones we love.
Gazing in your eyes with true love,