An Ode To Henrietta

I work from home by choice. As an introvert, working in an office surrounded by people and chatter all day long is mentally and physically draining. I learned this about myself about a decade ago and made a conscious decision to hone my skills, find clients and open my own copywriting and blogging business. It happened and is thriving.

That being said. I do crave human interaction. That need had always been met by my family. Even though they all work outside of the home, I had that human contact, conversation and a hug before they left the house pretty much 20150602_185214every day. I knew that our workdays would end and we would all end up back in the house, gathered around the dinner table.

And then, about five years ago, my son moved out. He had a great job and had just purchased a house. It’s what kids do. They become fantastic adults and then move on. I cried like a baby when he and his friends were packing up his room. I cried for many days after — every time I walked by his empty room. A room which I kept empty for several months, you know, just on the off chance he’d come back.

I was all right. I still had my daughter. That was true until yesterday when she, too, flew the nest. Again, she has a great job and she and her boyfriend wanted to move out of our tiny town to a place more suited for young adults. They both have great jobs and this is definitely a step they should have taken. It doesn’t make it any easier. When Alexa moved out I didn’t cry too much in front of her because of her empathetic nature it would have hurt her more than it hurt me to keep my feelings inside.

This morning I woke up and walked Henrietta. The first thing that hit me was that their cars weren’t in the driveway. Cue tears. At the time I am writing this post she would typically be getting up for work and bustling around. Today, no bustling.

My daughter’s room will remain vacant for a while, you know, just in case…

I know that a parent’s job is to raise happy, healthy adults who are ready to take on the world and I know that we’ve done that.” I am proud of my kids each and every day, but that doesn’t take away the sound of a house that is now far too silent.

Granted, neither of my children have moved more than 20 miles away, but it’s a different animal when you don’t see their faces every day. I truly never thought I’d be hit by the empty nest syndrome. I realize it hasn’t even been 24 hours, but so far it is a lonely, silent fewer than 24 hours.

As to the ode to Henrietta. When I got her, close to nine years ago, it was after much research and planning. I knew what I needed in a pet and a poodle fit the bill perfectly. Henrietta has been with me through many cry-inducing events. She was a tiny puppy when my father was hospitalized and in a coma around Christmastime several years ago. I’d spend long hours at the hospital, come home, curl up on the couch and cry until I fell asleep — Henrietta pressed tightly to my chest. She was there for me when my dad passed away a couple of years ago.

She sits silently in my lap when I come home from visiting my mother in the nursing home and am physically and emotionally spent. I cry and pet her and some of my tension eases and I am able to face the rest of the day.

When I was given a cancer diagnosis a month before my 50th birthday she comforted me and didn’t judge when I would cry and scream and be angry about it. Following my surgeries, treatments and recovery she was vigilant about keeping the other pets away while I convalesced in a recliner. When there were no words I could come up with to ask my family for help getting through it all, she was there. There are simply times when you just don’t know what someone can do to help and all you need is silence and understanding.

As my sister will tell you, I am a crier. It is my superpower. Crying in public is where I draw the line, but in the privacy of my home I can’t hide my emotions.

Today, as I begin the process of growing accustomed to the absolute silence in the house during my workday I will pat my leg and say, “who needs some love” and when Henrietta comes running and presses into me, I won’t quite be able to tell who is giving the love to whom.

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34 replies to this post
    • I knew my pet friends would understand. If it weren’t for Henrietta I am not certain how I would have gotten through many of my dark days.

  1. I would kiss her little face all day long!

    I’m here, anytime you want to chat….seriously, I work from home too and need people 🙂 In the same way you do….as in I don’t want to go to an office, but a nice chat over coffee soothes the soul.

    You look amazing. I thought we were about the same age. Now I know you have grown kids?!

    • Bonnie, don’t tell anyone but I do kiss her face all day long! I would love to set up a time to chat — weekly! Thank you for saying I look amazing. Hugs to that! My son is going to be 30 this Christmas eve and my daughter turned 22 in January. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Beautiful post Robbi. You are blessed to have children with confidence and the ability to make a life for themselves; so many parents are struggling with kids who just can’t seem to find their way. I’m glad you have Henrietta there to help you through that transition and through so many difficult times, it’s the Human-Animal Bond at it’s finest.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Thank you, Cathy. This post was more personal than I usually let myself get in public. Thank you for helping me count my blessings on my amazing kids. Henrietta truly does get me and my moods and there is nothing better than cuddling her when I am sad… or happy, for that matter!

  3. When you have been accustomed to the kids being around, it is certainly different when they move out. It is how it’s supposed to work, but sometimes silence can be deafening. If your kids are anything like mine, the first thing you’ll notice is that the house stays clean a lot longer! Only great moms have children that can spread their wings and leave the nest. Job well done. ♥

  4. Aww, Robbi. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to have your babies move out (even if it is only 20 miles). Thinking about you during this time and hoping that Henrietta continues to bring you lots of comfort!

    • Thanks. It was a long day yesterday BUT we will, hopefully, be planning a family dinner at least one day a week and we did text a LOT yesterday so that was great! Hen is a great comfort. 🙂

  5. What an inspired post. It’s amazing how in-tune our animals can be and how they always know exactly what we need in order to feel better. You’re lucky to have Henrietta, as much as she is lucky to have you!

  6. I adore my daughters and get what you are going through. Well done raising them to be independent and successful. My older daughter finally moved out 3 months ago. She moved to South America. Funnily enough, I speak to her more on FB chat or skype than I did when she lived here.
    My other daughter has popped back for a few months after finishing school so the house is still full of mess and noise and friends for now.
    She is always teasing me that Kilo the Pug is definitely the favourite child now. He is such a bossy little cuddler, more affectionate than my kids LOL.
    X Susie

    • Thank you! I am so proud of my kids but holy moly it is a quiet house these past two days. I don’t know how I would have coped if they’ve moved out of the country! I applaud your strength! LOL my daughter has long believed that Henrietta is my favorite child!

    • It’s a true bond I have with my fur babies and they, and especially Henrietta, have gotten me through hard times.

  7. I would not have guessed you were an introvert from meeting you at Blog Paws. You were so confident and assertive. Thank you for sharing the other side of you in this post 🙂

    • Thanks, Kama. Part of the job is to be out mixing and mingling. I love it while I am doing it, but it is semi-draining by the end of the day I just need quiet time. Thanks for commenting!

  8. What a beautiful and soul-baring post! I feel sad now because I just moved out of my parents’ house for the first time last year, from New Jersey to California, I haven’t been able to have a visit with them yet. I know my mom, especially, is devastated, but I had to do what I had to do to be happy, even though it hurts her. I always message her, but I’m going to call her right now – I just have to after reading your post!

    I’m also an introvert blogger/copywriter working from home – we’re a lot alike! I feel so lucky to be able to have dog company every moment when I’m working, though it’s such a big distraction!

    Nice to meet you, Robbi.

    • Nice to meet you, too, Lyndsay. I’m sure your mom was so happy to hear from you! We sound like kindred souls with the introverted/business owner/dog distraction! Thank you so much for writing.

  9. Robbi, what a wonderful, honest & realistic tale…. er, tail… on so many levels.
    So many will relate to you, and while I know this Ode to Henrietta is about the love of a dog for her mom & vice versa; I will certainly be sharing your story to encourage other ”empty nesters” to adopt a companion animal.
    Thanks for sharing such a personal part of your life,
    Annette x

    • Annette, it was a different type post for me… to be so vulnerable “in public.” Thank you for sharing my story and hopefully it will help get more pets adopted. I don’t know what I would do without mine.

  10. What a lovely post. It makes me grateful that I chose to move just two blocks from my own Mama and that she chooses to walk the dogs with me most nights. Truth be told, I haven’t fully moved out and she hasn’t pushed me to fully vacate the room.

    I love the idea of Henrietta being your constant, your rock. Dogs are such great “people” to turn to in times of strife or change and a dog snuggle can change the day completely.

    • Hi Jodi, I am so grateful my kids only live about 20 miles away but it certainly doesn’t make the silent house any less silent! Oh Henrietta has been such a comfort to me since I got her and it seemed my life started spinning out of control. I think the universe brought us together at exactly the right time. Thank you for writing.

  11. I can’t imagine what you are going through, and I am so happy that Henrietta is there for you.

    Although I am an extrovert (and technically the opposite) I can’t stand being home alone by myself. I think its because I was an only child and therefore never really sought out alone time because it was easy to find. Now a days I need someone else in the house, and Rooney definitely helps me with that. I wish you less tears in the future, I am sure before you know it you will have grand babies coming by the house. I know my parents are waiting for that somewhat patiently.

    • Hi Rachel, I am so glad I have my Hen. Thank you for the wish of less tears. I know it will get easier but whoo boy not yet. AND yesterday she came back and took her kitty, Clyde, now that she is a bit settled in and he is a loss because he is such a character. Too many changes for me in one week. Thank you so much for writing. xo

  12. Awe Robbi, I am so glad you have Henrietta to always be there for you through the silence, the tears, through everything. I am that solid rock for Mommy as well. I pray that you do well through this transition my friend. You are a strong wonderful woman Robbi. Sending love & hugs from me and Mommy Jenny.
    Love, Pixel

    • Hi Pixel, thank you for understanding the power of Henrietta’s love for me. I know your Mommy understands it and gets it from you as well. I appreciate your kind words. Hugs and love to you both 🙂

  13. Robbi:great post. I got Maxie 14 yrs ago when all my ‘babies’ we’re growing up & going out on their own.Then Mia 6 yrs after that when the last one graduated.They have been more comfort & company then I could ever imagined.Now this summer my 2 sons moved states away & the dogs are still so much company & my constant companions. This empty nest thing tAkes some getting used to!

    • I agree. I don’t know what I would have done without my Henrietta in the house when my kids decided they were old enough to leave their mother! She is a constant companion. Thank you so much for sharing!

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