Oh boy. I’ve had this one on the back burner for quite some time now. Quite some time, as in nearly a year. I didn’t know if I was the only one. I didn’t know how to put it without sounding heartless and cruel. I don’t really have a solution or end game for this one other than, “this is how I feel about it”. And I really wasn’t sure if anyone else would be able to relate. After all, scroll your Facebook feed and if its not people obsessed with babies, food, or Crossfit – its dogs.
I’m nervous. I can just hear the scoffs and the, “I would NEVER feel that way about our dog”, and the, “This lady should not be procreating if she feels this way about her dogs”. I can hear it because I’ve seen it. Not long ago I was scrolling my own Facebook feed and a friend had commented on this post that popped up. The title immediately peaked my interest. If you want me to save you a minute, its written by mom voicing with brave honesty how her relationship with her dog changed once she had kids. Brave. Honesty. I read the article and felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t the sole mother out there who was struggling with the relationship she had with her fur babes. That light feeling was immediately replaced by a punch to the gut, however, when this woman I felt connected to was incessantly bashed in the comments. People crucified her. She must be a horrible mother! She doesn’t have a heart! This woman should never have kids! She obviously can’t handle being a mother! And on and on and on. It was terrible. If these anonymous commenters hiding behind their screens felt these things about her, then they must surely feel the same about me. Ugh.
When I started this blog I told myself I had two rules. 1. I only write when I feel inspired, and never force it. 2. I tell my honest truth. If anyone takes the time to read it, they deserve that.
Well, despite my fears, here is my truth. A truth that I think more than just this woman and I experience.
Before I dive in, I’m feeling the need to put out a little disclaimer: I am not seeking advice for how to better deal with my dogs. And I am not seeking your input on how to better manage my home. I am not seeking any sympathy or anything resembling a pity party; I am fully aware that my situation is a culmination of conscious decisions my husband and I made. I just want to put myself out there in hopes that another mom may breathe that sigh of relief knowing she isn’t the only one. That’s all 🙂
My husband got our first fur baby, Stokley, as a graduation gift from college from his parents. A beautiful, lovely golden retriever that was part of our dear friend’s new litter of pups. He was friendly, lively, and had a coat of fur to die for. He moved around with us as it took us a few years to get settled into adulthood, and once we were married we got the itch to give him a sibling. Enter Skyler. Another golden retriever with a gorgeous light coat, adorable little size, and playful as can be. They immediately grew to love each other, and they were our babies. Weekends spent walking them through scenic trails. Hours playing out in the backyard. The subject of most of our pictures. You know the drill.
We talked about how we would prepare them for kids, which would be here in nine short months. The blanket that smells like the baby. Let them be curious and get close. Continue to shower them with attention and affection. You know that drill, too.
And we did. We did all the right things, and our fur babies adjusted well. They are both sweet to our kids and for that I am so thankful. Going from our number ones to our number threes couldn’t have been easy for them, but it is the reality. They are the last ones that get dinner at night and they are the last ones to be put to bed at night. Its just how it is now.
I stay home with our two year old and three month old. One of those conscious decisions Matt and I made. If you’re a mom of multiples or you’ve been in the same vicinity as a pair of littles, you know how busy it can be. You know that some days it takes every last ounce of energy to make it to bed time. And you know there are times you nearly shutdown in nervous laughter because shit. is. bananas. There are too many times when the kids have used up every last ounce of your patience, and the dogs become your tipping point. Between the kids and your spouse, sometimes it feels like all your attention and time is used up and your reserves are empty.
Its challenging when I’ve worked really hard all morning to get their schedules just right so I might get a few minutes of nap time alone… for Stokley to hear someone clink a spoon on the Food Network and start barking like crazy and wake them up.
It’s challenging when I tell Stokley to sit and stay at the back door so I can get a rag to clean his feet, and he doesn’t listen. Only to spread poop throughout the entire main floor that my toddler daughter has now taken an interest in.
It’s challenging when I’m in the middle of a dirty diaper change, and Skyler starts puking on the carpet because she insists on eating anything and everything she finds.
It’s challenging when after multiple vacuum jobs each day, their hair still shows up in diapers, food, little fists, and on every blanket we own. I can’t keep up.
It’s challenging when I’m in Harrison’s room and finally lay him down for a nap, when Skyler makes her way up to the bedroom and shakes her collar with vigor. Waking the tiny, exhausted human I just got to sleep.
Its challenging when I try to take the dogs for a walk with the stroller, but can’t because Stokley has a new sense of protectiveness and will quite literally take off to attack any other dog that crosses our path.
It’s challenging when after a sleepless night I finally get the baby back to sleep, and have one more glorious hour to lay in bed. Until both dogs won’t stop crying to be fed downstairs.
It’s challenging when all I want to do is be spontaneous and do fun things with the kids in the backyard. But I can’t until any and all dog poop gets picked up.
It’s challenging when I have a sleeping baby strapped to my chest and a toddler eating lunch, when I look out to see Stokley has wrapped himself around a tree. Because going outside in 10 degree weather is exactly what I am wanting to do at the moment.
It’s challenging when I know all they need is my affection that they so deserve, and I struggle to muster it up.
And if I’m being really, truthfully, honest… some days its challenging to find my love for them. I’d be lying if I said there’s never been days where I’ve wished a family member could take them. And I’d be lying if I said the “if only the dogs weren’t here!” thoughts never crossed my mind.
I have no advice to give, and no “ah ha” moment to leave you with at the end of this one. I’ve got nothing, because I myself am still trying to sort it out. I’m still wrestling with guilt over how I feel about my dogs, and I’m still trying to make this one big happy home for everyone – including the pups.
What I do know, however, is that while my relationship with them is strained, my daughter’s relationship with them is not. She laughs with them, lays on them, helps feed them, and knows their rules to reinforce. She loves them. And they (kind of) love her. As the kids grow older they will take on more responsibilities with them, and these dogs are going to be the ones they remember as their first pups. They will forever be a part of my children’s childhood memories. And when my reserves are depleted, that is reason enough to keep trying.
To the author of the article that gave me the push to write my own – you are not an awful person or mother. I know this because I understand and I’m not an awful person or mother. It’s our experience. Our truth. And there’s no shame in that.
Because having little kids and dogs, its…challenging.