Monthly Archives: July 2014

Love is mashed peas.

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself love shows up in unusual ways and at unexpected times.


***There are a few important facts that help set the stage for this story. 

  1. The little guy recently got his first pet – a red fish – which after much deliberation he decided to name “Fish.”
  2. The little guy is just over two years old so actual care of Fish tends to fall to the larger family members (i.e. me).
  3. We chose a fish because we wanted a low maintenance pet.
  4. Fish (meaning all fish, not just our fish) can get constipated.

(Disclaimer: This post is longer than usual. The short version is I spent a long time on a Friday night figuring out how to hand feed our pet fish mashed peas so he could stop being constipated (i.e. poop and be able to use his swim bladder again to float) and go on living a happy life being tortured by the blue dinosaur I put next to his tank to be his friend. Heh heh heh. Oh yeah, and be loved by the little guy. Love is weird.)

The longer version: It was an average Friday evening after dinnertime and we were getting the little guy ready for bed. I was looking forward to some end of the week, feet up, TV on, veg time. My partner in crime suddenly noticed that Fish was not swimming around in his tank. He was not bobbing gently or swishing in circles or trying to attack the large blue dinosaur I put next to his tank to be his friend. Nope. 

Fish was floating on his side. At the top of the tank. Inflated two to three times larger then normal size. Flapping his little flippers. And not looking very good. “Aaaacck” was my first thought. A four letter word was my second.

A phone call to the pet shop and a short drive later with a water sample from the tank it was determined that bad water, bad pH, inappropriate nitrates, bacteria, virus, and fungus were not the culprits. Three “fish guys” were holding court around the water samples trying to decide what might be wrong with Fish. 

As the pet shop prepared to close they all agreed that Fish was most likely constipated. Say what?!?! Fish can get blocked up?? This came as a surprise to me, so I sarcastically quipped, “so what, now I need to give my fish a laxative?” 

The three fish guys looked at me and in all seriousness said “yes” in unison. Huh. Apparently fish can get constipated and they have this thing called a swim bladder that then gets blocked up and when that gets blocked up the fish cannot inflate/deflate to go up/down in the water. (That’s the simple version they gave me.) “So, I assume you guys sell some sort of laxative drops,” I asked desperately hoping this was true, because it was late, I was tired, and putting a couple drops in the water sounded fairly easy.

“Nope” was the response. “You have to mash up some green peas and feed them to the fish.” (Seriously?? My fish is floating on his side at the top of the tank… He runs for the farthest corner when I drop food in on a healthy day. How on earth am I going to get him to eat from a spoon???)

And with that the pet store closed. I drove home trying to figure out how I was going to get Fish to eat mashed peas. Upon arriving home I was immediately enticed by my big comfy couch, something mindless on TV, and the thought of putting up my feet. And then I looked at Fish. 

And that’s when it first hit me. I realized I loved that little red critter if for no other reason then he is part of our family and I get to scare the fish poop out of him with the turquoise dinosaur. Alright, get to work…

Thirty minutes later I am starting to panic a little as Fish is still mostly circling the surface and has now turned a pink shade (not his usual brilliant red). I have tried three different baby spoons and a syringe without luck. The bottom of the bowl is littered with pieces of mashed pea. I am hoping there is some diffusion going on and Fish is ingesting at least a little bit somehow, someway. I briefly consider making a mug of mashed pea slurry, bathing him in it and then returning him to his tank…

That’s when I decide to put a little mashed pea on the end of my finger. I slowly put my finger in the water, edge it gently towards Fish and… he eats it! 

Hallelujah! Lights and choirs and singing and more lights! I literally jump. In the kitchen. At 9:30 at night. And cheer. Because I finger fed Fish mashed peas. Love. Plain and simple. (And maybe a little insanity but mostly love.)

A few more pieces of pea later I decide that is enough. Fish is still circling the top but I am hopeful the peas will do their magical thing and Fish will recover. I wish I could hug him and tell him it will be okay. Some part of me realizes this is a fish and if I wanted to hug our pet I would have pushed harder for a puppy or a kitty or a guinea pig. And some part of me says what the heck is going on, aren’t fish supposed to be low maintenance?? And another part of me feels good because I can go to bed now knowing I did everything I could for the smallest member of our family. 

And that’s it – love shows up in unexpected ways. Feeding mashed peas to a fish off of my finger at 9:30 on a Friday night. Both for love of the fish and love of the little guy. (Smile.)


[Epilogue: For those curious souls who want to know what happened to Fish… The peas totally worked! I woke up the next morning afraid to look feeling pretty certain I was going to find a not so healthy looking Fish, but there he was completely back to normal. Circling the tank. Swimming gracefully up and down. At his normal size! There was a rather hefty fish dropping on the floor of the tank. And later there were some odd bubbles at the surface that I cleaned out. So perhaps the “fish guys” were right – Fish was a little blocked up, a little gassy, and needed a little fishy fiber! As of today he remains happy, healthy, and “best friends” with a turquoise dinosaur.] 

Expansion & Contraction

I have been thinking about this post for awhile. It has been hard to figure out where to start, what to say. It is hard to figure out what to write that does not sound incredibly selfish or short-sighted. In the last three years my life has changed. It has changed so much I hardly recognize my life compared to what it was three years ago.


Some areas have contracted. Other areas have expanded. The expansion has been amazing and exciting and unexpected. I delight in things I might never have noticed before – the moon in the sky at 8 am, an airplane, a double dump truck, a digger, ice cream sandwiches, otters at the aquarium, mud puddles, shovels, blue flowers, tide pools, pie, the blinds, a really big pillow, rocks, dirt, blueberries, raspberries, sunflowers, hugs, kisses, and smiles.

But then there is the contraction. This is the part that is harder to write about. I have gained so much from being a mom, from moving, from buying a house, from finishing graduate school. But all of that comes at a cost or maybe comes as a trade off – I am not sure what the “right” words would be. This is the part no one ever seems to talk about. I think back to the life I used to have and the life I have now is so very different. Things have contracted because there is not enough time in the day to live my old life and be delighted by the new one.

I love my “new” life – which is not really new but just a slow evolution of constant change over the last 3 years – but I also loved my “old” life too. And this is the part that I struggle to write – somehow I find myself split sometimes. I mourn the loss of the old life but I love the adventures and discoveries of the new one. I miss the opportunity to run 12 miles on a Saturday, grab a coffee, and lounge over brunch, then wander around a museum or market just exploring (this is the part that now seems very selfish). These days I squeeze in a 2 mile jog with the baby stroller, mainline a coffee, wipe up more food then I eat, and definitely don’t do any lounging.

But then there is that expansion again… I do get to discover what it’s like to get into a swimming pool for the first time, to build a sand castle, to go down a slide, to swing, to be tickled, to read a book seven times in a row and have someone squeal in surprise at the ending every time, to see a lot of sunrises, to see Christmas lights for the first time, to have your first pet (a fish), and to be unconditionally loved.

So if I were my own best friend I would tell myself this is a phase. It is part of the life I have chosen. And I should enjoy and try to remember every last moment. Because it is going to go really fast. In fact it already is.

Have any of you had experience with this? Have any of you found yourselves happy in your “new” life but also missing your old?