I must be getting old.

I don’t usually identify with the mothers in the books that I read. One reason is obvious — I’m not a mother. But I think it goes deeper than that. My friend Scotty used to say How can we have kids when we can barely take care of ourselves? Amen. Part of me still feels unprepared for life and so the thought of being responsible for another life is very scary to me.

However I do plan on being a parent one day. And I recently got a baby dog rather than an adult dog in complete moronic confidence in my nascent parenting skills. I reminded myself that I have raised two cats properly. It was going along fine until it became clear that this pup needed special support and guidance. My worst fears began coming true: I had taken the responsibility for another life, and I was screwing it up.

I worried incessantly, as is my habit. In my daily reading of Al Capone, I began to realize how much I was becoming like Moose Flannagan’s mother in her dealings with Nathalie, her autistic child. Mrs. Flannagan’s faith hung on the word of experts; she used every tactic they gave her with the hopeful optimism that this would be the one (For my part, I talked to two dog trainers and a breeder and read three books). I felt her disappointment that with every small step forward were precarious steps backward. The day I picked up the business card of an animal communicator I knew I had reached my lowest point, which fortunately for me falls far shy of Mrs. Flannagan’s deluded attempt to pass her 16 year old daughter off as a ten year old.

As I identified all over the place with this strong yet brittle woman, I began to realize that no one is prepared for parenting and raising a child (whether a two footed or four footed version). And that all my obsessive preparations will not be any help.

Which leads me to the uncomfortable conclusion that I have to learn from Mrs. Flannagan’s experience. I need to take a deep breath. And learn to trust myself.