A Letter to Self Regarding Project Penguin

For the purposes of this letter, penguin translates to German Shepherd. 

Dear Self on August 4, 2014:

You are giddy today. Project Penguin is going to change your life. You’re not sure how yet. You just know it will. You’re experienced enough in these matters to know that even though you’re excited and pleased right this very minute you know there will be remorse, some what the hell were we thinking, once you bring the penguin home.

You and your husband have been thinking about penguins for years. Waiting, actually. You wanted rolling hills and a red barn and space for your three daughters to run without the risk of a Chevy Truck coming around the corner at 35 miles per hour. You wanted order. First the land, the barn, the green grass. Then the penguin.

You got distracted recently. There was the argument over the 40th birthday party that never came to pass, and the Big One, the argument that started over the gobs of laundry piled in the bedroom; seemingly small issues between you and your hubby until, like a grenade, a pin was pulled and you both succumbed to the explosion. Then, silence.

Days and days of silence until the Friday when your husband returned home from work and demanded an answer to what are we doing? And you realized he was tempted to cross a line and not return, and you could be single, contributing to your girls’ lives only fifty-percent of the time.

Maybe a conversation like that changed you.

Maybe once the tension cleared and your hubby sat you down on the front steps on yet another Friday and declared how optimistic he was about you and him, a new space opened in your heart.

Maybe it was the look on your daughter’s freckled face, the one of hope, when she told you about the male penguin pup born in the stable at horse camp. She asked if you’d let her adopt it.

You talked and talked and talked an answer without saying no and your daughter noticed and asked, “Are you saying yes?” and you realized she hadn’t heard a damn word about logistics or green space. A nine-year-old doesn’t care about those things. You said, “I’m not saying no. I’m saying not now.”

Those words became your first clue that your will was crumbling; that you care more about your family than proper order.

This penguin looks charming, but you know you'll wonder what the hell were you thinking?

This penguin looks charming, but you know you’ll wonder what the hell were you thinking?

You feel as if you’ve been visited by mischievous Puck, as if fairy dust has washed away any sense of being practical. You observe other people’s penguins, and instead of them being a source of work and loathing, you see them as a source of happiness. You see Companion, not Pest. You’re open to fur on the rug and poop in the backyard and scratches on your oak floors. You’re open to drool and the tedium of playing fetch.

Loving a penguin made a difference in your childhood. You loved the responsibility. You loved teaching tricks to your penguin. You were your daughter’s age, about nine, when your mom surprised you with a penguin. And you know if you wait much longer you may miss the window of time when bonding with a penguin could make a difference in your daughters’ lives, too. Soon they’ll be busy—with boys and sports and part-time jobs and school clubs. Soon they’ll barely be home long enough to share pizza and a few words about their day.

And this isn’t all about the kids. This is about your husband, too. Owning a penguin is one of the few items on his Life List. He’s been waiting for one since he was 12 and his parents said no. You are someone who likes to review those lists and get to it.

Check that box: one penguin, please.

You want to do this. So enjoy the giddy while it lasts. It’s letting you know that even though this pet will complicate your life you’re ready for it.




Read a related post: Project Penguin.


5 thoughts on “A Letter to Self Regarding Project Penguin

  1. I support your need for a penguin. Having always been a puffin person who merely liked penguins, I can safely say that our penguin has enriched our lives in ways which a puffin cannot. I find that scared little girls aren’t scared when their penguin is around, and sometimes, when they’re sad, they’ll call the penguin into their rooms for a cuddle. Yes, puffins can comfort us, too, but penguins are always so eager to love us. You know how badly your husband needs the penguin. Sometimes I smile just thinking about how great it is to have four puffins and a penguin. Child me is so pleased.
    Adult me will sympathize with you when your penguin chews your trainers, or pukes on your favorite rug, or when you are cutting pet hair off the beater bar, but adult me knows, just like with every baby, the work is worth the joy. ❤


    • I agree–the work is worth the joy. We brought home penguin last night and I had a blast watching the girls swoon over him. And all five of us were bosses/chiefs, too. Lots of telling each other how to act around penguin. Thanks for sharing your story of penguins and puffins.


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