Friday, March 12, 2010

A different life

There are many cool things to do in the blogosphere, but one of the funnest, and most challenging of them is the writing workshop posted each week by Josie, who is herself an incredible writer and who blogs at “sleep is for the weak”.

I've not attempted it before, but she had a prompt this week that had me drifting into a reverie of 'what might have been'  so I decided to write it down; for myself really. Apologies for the self indulgence!.

She asked “imagine a parallel universe where a version of you that made a different decision exists”.

This is my “sliding doors” moment. You see, though Geekymummy did quite well at school, and went to Imperial College in London to study Biochemistry, she didn't get the A levels results she needed to go to Veterinary school. Her alter ego Vetmummy was so set on a career as a vet that she decided to repeat the exams the following year, studied harder and got the A levels she needed to get into the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She is a 39 year old vet living on the outskirts of Cambridge with her engineer husband, her two kids, three cats, four dogs and three horses.

I woke up this morning to the sound of hooves on cobble and the satisfied snort of a horse going out for his morning constitutional. I twitched the curtains (floral horrors I keep meaning to replace) and waved down at Cecila, the sixteen year old who I regretfully employed to tend to our horses in the mornings after the kids came along, and I realized I didn't have time to do everything. I don't regret it now though. Cecila reminds me of myself at her age. Horse mad, but not lucky enough to have a pony of her own, she would do almost anything for a free ride. I do pay her for the work she does for us, I hasten to add, but I know that for her the money is secondary to the joy she gets from riding our horses. I love to see the pleasure she gets from interacting with them. The poor beasts (Conker, a ridiculously shiny bay Welsh Cob, Princess II, a dotty chestnut Arab, and Bunce the ungrateful rescued Shetland pony) were released from their pedestals in our lives after the kids came along, so they thrive on the adoration Cecilia gives them. Still, I'm looking forward to going for a ride this weekend, maybe my parents will care for the kids for a couple of hours so Vetdad and I can have a quick gallop though the fens.

The next sound is of my mum shouting "get out", and I cringe as I remember that the door to the guest room is broken again, so she probably woke up with at least one of our three bed hogging cats on top of her. She is allergic to cats, and can't stand having them on the bed. I mentally compose an apology and hope she remembered her inhaler. I sincerely hope that Jasper the German Shepherd mix with the delicate bowels hasn't exploded all over the the hallway again, that would really be a bad start to the day. (he came into our possession after I  removed a foot of intestine from him. A meal of his owners brand new car upholstery caused an obstruction, and after he recovered from surgery his owners decided they didn't want the destructive beast anymore)

Fridays are a work day for me. I do four full days a week at the clinic I co own. Fridays are also the day my mum comes to look after the kids. This week she and my dad arrived THursday night, and are staying until Saturday, for a Mothers day gathering with my sister and brother in law and their three girls, and my brother and his wife and baby.  With Mum and Dad both here this morning Vetdad and I have plenty of assistance getting the kids ready for preschool and getting ourselves ready for our bike commutes, mine a short ride to the surgery and Vetdaddy's a more ambitious cycle to the gleaming office park outside Cambridge where his high tech start up company is located.

Today I'm performing a couple of TPLO surgeries, a challenging procedure to rebuild a dog's knee after a ligament injury. I've specialized in orthopedics since I spent a sabbatical in California 12 years ago. Whenever I perform the surgery I'm reminded of the night I met my husband.  A ski trip from the vet school ended in "the nawty dawg' a dog themed Tahoe City bar (where else would a bunch of vet students go?!) where the drinks were served in dog bowls. I glimpsed a raucous, handsome, sandy haired man, his shaggy hair and wide laugh made him seem part bloke, part golden retriever, and our eyes  locked as we slurped Margaritas through straws in a paw printed plastic bowl. The rest, as they say, is history.

I'm finding myself drawn more and more to the calm, emotion free environment of the operating theater these days. The emotional aspect of Veterinary medicine, the hard decisions and the impact they have on the humans involved are almost too draining for me now. My family takes almost all of the emotional energy I have, and I worry that I am not giving as much to my clients as I should.

But today I have mum and dad here to help carry some of the parenting demands. I call on the way home, Grandma has everything  under control, and my dad has slipped out to the Bell and Bear, he is almost like a local here, showing up every other Friday or so, and has a coterie of geezer friends who he likes to catch up with when he is in town. The bar is on my way home, so I lock my bike on a lamppost outside and pop in, to find he and Vetdad both propping up the bar. When I decided to go to vet college my dad was a little disappointed that I didn't chose something more cerebral, but he has long since realized that this work is my passion and I think I he quite enjoys the constant stream of animals that pass through the house. He has one of the menagerie with him at the bar, Muffin, our three legged border collie, who whirls to greet me with muddy paws and delighted dog kisses.

A swift half later, we barrel through the door, to find the kids bantering with their Grandma and eating their favourite dinner, Grandma's chicken stew. My mum looks tired, I'm so grateful that she is prepared to take on the task of a full days care of these demanding little people, and the relationship they have with their beloved Grandma makes it worth all her efforts. She shows me a story she, Vetgirl and Vetboy wrote and illustrated today, and we all swell with pride over the children. 

Our idyllic family teatime is interrupted by a splutter from Vetgirl "Mama I have hairdog" she says, pulling something long and fluffy from her mouthful of stew. I catch the look of disguised horror on my Mum's face. I'm not sure whether it is the malapropism (encouraged by me from an early age since I find it amusing), or the fact that there is animal hair in the food yet again; dog, horse, cat, other exotic beasts from the surgery, the house rolls with hairy tumbleweeds even just after a good cleaning.  I barely notice it any more.  This warm and cluttered family home with its human equine, canine and feline members is what I always dreamed of. It is worth putting up with a little hair in the food.

Disclaimer: This post is completely fictional, apart from the description of the 'nawty dawg' bar in Tahoe city. That is a real place, sadly no longer open for business.

What would your alternate life be?