Why my dog is not a child

Recently while I was strolling for a family walk with our new puppy, a stranger remarked, “Three kids?! You must be busy!”

For a moment I paused, thinking this man knew something I didn’t. I quickly realized he meant that the puppy was my third child and a definite part of the parenting handful.

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Admittedly, I was once a person who thought having a dog was just like having a furry human baby. I honestly did. I wasn’t making a political or philosophical statement. I had even been a nanny. I just couldn’t have known what I know now. This shift in my mind about children and dogs post-parenthood has been on my mind, as we have added a bouncing, baby livestock guard dog to our humble home.

I’m 100% an animal person; I love them. I have a veritable menagerie! (#CatholicArk) Even with my great affection for animals, I still must relay what the experience of having a puppy and small children at the same time has highlighted for me. They are not even close to similar.

You cannot feed kids from a bag that requires no cooking or preparation, three times a day. Good luck cooking a meal and getting your toddler to eat it on a day they’ve sworn off eating. Or, to wear pants. To the childrens’ credit, I’m sure if I made the puppy wear pants he’d rip them off, as well.

More or less, the dog is super stoked to find crumbs on the floor. (As will be a child if it’s in public, only in public!) He never complains or gets picky, nor does he have special allergies that require hourly consideration and planning. It is frowned upon for you to put your children in a crate. It is also frowned upon to put them on leashes.

You cannot send kids to the family doctor when you want to go on vacation, and pay a nice, low, daily fee. I’m certain my family provider would break up with us if we tried this. Anyone want to try this for science? Let me know.

You cannot just give them something to chew on and leave the house anytime you want to go out with friends. You cannot watch whatever movie or say whatever you want around children. While the dog won’t repeat that you think Bob down the street is a “darned hippy,” your kids will. They will do it in front of Bob, obviously.

My puppy likes to drink out of the toilet bowl until empty or chew on a bone for extracurricular activities. His literacy prowess is not of concern, and worrying about his second language development is not high up on my list of concerns. If he understands “sit,” we will be doing well.

While the puppy may need a quick potty run in the middle of the night for a few weeks until he matures, the baby I had four years ago is still iffy on potty training some days and definitely, does not sleep in a crate, unable to wake me in the night with her concerns about unpainted finger nails or looking to be serenaded.

The dog also never says, “MOOOOOMMMMMMMM! WHY?!” 😂👏🏻

To some this will probably seem like I’m saying, have a dog instead of a child. That is precisely not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that the experiences are not interchangeable, and they do not fulfill the space the other leaves. Man’s best friend is not a human child, and a human child is not man’s best friend. They are both distinct and wonderful relationships worth experiencing. Dogs have been domesticated and bred to serve alongside man and to serve him loyally. Children are the absolute greatest good and the future of our species.

I hope this reaches someone who believes owning a dog fills this void or informs them anything about the life of a parent. It does not. It may be a nice appetizer to prepare you for keeping someone alive, but it is not similar.

The complex and natural, lifelong relationship I have with my children is completely indescribable and dissimilar to having a dog, no matter how wonderous your puppy may be. (Ours is THE BEST!) The love and joy I have found in motherhood is not something I can convey to someone who has no children. It is something that has to be experienced to understand. All I can do is try my best to explain that you truly cannot know what you are missing until you have a child. It is not something you will regret. You cannot know this level of fulfillment and joy until you experience it.

I know that sounds convenient, like we’re a child cult trying to convince others to join our misery, but surely there would be a whistleblower somewhere? Wikileaks? Bueller? Consider how many people there are who have only dogs that believe dogs are like children versus the amount of people who have both who believe dogs are like children. Would you trust a person’s opinion on two experiences if they had only experienced one? It’s like getting that annoying dating advice from Suzie who never has a boyfriend but totally knows all the answers to your relationship problems.

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A dog will never have my eyes or make the same strange gestures as me or laugh over shared memories at family holidays. He will never make me examine just how difficult I can be, by acting just like me. He will never make me relate better to other humans as I realize that everyone I encounter is someone’s baby. Ask anyone about feeling emotionally “re-sensitized” after the birth of their child. It changes you and for the better. I will never want to put my dog before myself and in doing so, become a more selfless person. I will not grow old seeing him flourish before me, because he will be in an urn in my library.

What am I saying? I’m saying I love dogs. Truly. They are helpful, joyful, excellent company, and loyal, but they are not even close to the experience of having a human child, another experience, I highly recommend. This juxtaposition of relationships begs the question,  if someone claims to want to be child free, why would this same person want to pretend a dog is a child. Doesn’t that defeat the child free plan?

If you need further proof of the trouble with pretending canids are hominid offspring, look to all of the dogs harmed by being treated like a baby. Forcing a dog to fill a natural human void, denies them their right to be a dog, something we literally created them to be. Instead of being lead by a strong master, they are left to mow over their owners and rule their homes creating anxious, insecure environments where they feel obligated to step in as alpha. Ask any obedience trainer what causes dysfunction in dog obedience and behavior. They need order, and above all, they need to be dogs. (See Cesar Millan)

Of course after a long day raising the future citizens of the world, it’s nice to snuggle a fluffy dog who doesn’t talk back and just wants a butt scratch. I highly recommend both experiences.

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The silence that is ruining our marriages

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Everyone has seen the stereotypical, Hollywood romance movie, complete with foot sweeping, grand gestures, and wildly passionate, physical attraction. For the most part, every married couple will have their own breathtakingly romantic moments, but there is another side which we don’t address publicly. We don’t see it in the movies either, and we go to heroic lengths to hide it from even our closest family and friends.

I will break this damaging silence, today. It is already hard enough out there, without trying to pretend we have a perma-pinterest ready, instagrammable fable. Maybe, I will be the only one, but I’m going to be honest about my real marriage for the sake of others, because that is what is at stake. People are deciding to end their marriages because they aren’t experiencing a fairy tale.

I cannot be even partially, responsible for that. This is the truth about my marriage. I love my husband. I’m crazy about him. He’s my knight in shining armor, and I’m his fair maiden, but you know what? It’s not always like that, and that is OK.

Some days I questions my judgement in marrying my husband. I am sure he wonders what he was thinking sometimes, too. You aren’t going to like the person you are married to sunup to sundown. It’s normal. Can you imagine liking anyone 100% of the time? It’s not just unlikely. It’s impossible…unless it is Betty White, a woman universally believed to be beyond reproach.

Warm fuzzy feelings aren’t what keeps you together for 50 years. Choice is what keeps you together, the choice to love one another until death. You can’t rely on feelings to determine your commitment to your marriage.

Sometimes every single word my husband says makes my skin crawl. Sometimes, my obsessive need to overanalyze and control makes him throw his arms up and walk into another room. You know what? That’s normal! It’s OK to become irritated. It is not a sign of impending doom. It is a sign of an authentic relationship between two complex, sentient beings.

We went to counseling once to iron-out a longstanding issue in our marriage. This should be normal. People wait too long to go to counseling. They go to counseling when they already have one foot out of the door because they didn’t want to admit defeat. Don’t wait, if you need help. It isn’t admitting your marriage is failing. It’s admitting it needs an expertise that you did not receive years of education receiving.

My husband forgets big dates and events because he isn’t a character in a romance novel, and I don’t answer the door holding beer and wearing furry lingerie because I am not a fabricated woman. We are real. Our marriage is real. It’s messy. Sometimes, he comes home to what appears to be a clothed wildbeast, with dry shampoo in her coat. Bless his heart for not turning around and running for the hills.

Be honest with yourselves and others, about your marriage. We all have this side that we are struggling to conceal from others. Why are we doing this? We already know that real marriage isn’t a fairy tale. Marriage, like all things worth having, is hard work, struggle, sweat, and tears.

Fight for your marriage. Help others fight for their marriages by being honest about yours. Normalize normal marriage. #realmarriage
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A few Catholic memes….

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From me to you, a little humor. Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Etsy, for the latest podcast episodes, art prints, and catholic blurbs!

 

 


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10 Signs of Authentic Masculinity

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PLEASE LOOK FOR THE “This Catholic Life” PODCAST ON ITUNES, STITCHER OR BREADBOX MEDIA, DROPPING THIS WEEKEND, FOR COMMENTARY FROM THE CATHOLIC MAN SHOW HOSTS.

Many years ago people still knew what authentic masculinity meant. Men were men, and they weren’t accused of “toxic masculinity”. They grew up, they were accountable, they didn’t continue to live in their mom’s basements drinking mountain dew and gaming all night. Men had families and didn’t worry that children would cut into their ability to buy the latest, ironic, hipster, flannel shirt that makes them look like a lumberjack, despite the fact that they never go outdoors.

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If you are unsure if what I say is true, the pictures will say all that needs to be said. We can see a desirable man from times past, and we can see the “new” desirable man, who looks like he may require more time to get ready for a date than I do.

I have decided, like every good blogger, to air my grievances on the interwebs, so without further ado, the signs of authentic masculinity:

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Housing:
The authentically masculine man doesn’t choose to continue to live with his parents and game until all hours of the night! He isn’t relying on his parents to allow him to continue to live like an overgrown child. He is industrious and seeks to make something of himself. This is not meant to shame those who have fallen on hard times, or those who are working toward independence. I mean to call out those who are quite happy being an adult child. If you’re actively working toward making something of yourself, that is manly, no matter where you are living!

Appearance:
The authentically masculine man doesn’t use your make-up and hair products. He grooms his hair and showers regularly. His clothes are not wrinkly and ill-fitting, because he has likely attracted a lovely woman who advises him. He knows how to dress-up for an event, especially mass, and that doesn’t include ironic sneakers with his dress pants. He is not vain, and embraces aging as something that makes him appear distinguished. Ask any woman. Salt and pepper hair is sexy! It says, a man has some wisdom, and the woman doesn’t have to worry about him stealing her hair dye.

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Honor:
The authentically masculine man would never put a woman’s reputation or soul at risk. He cares for her current and eternal well-being. This man can wait for marriage, or he has become convinced of its value later in life. He knows the value of patience and the message it sends to a woman, when he doesn’t try to use her.

Alcohol:
The authentically masculine man does not order a “sex on the beach” with extra sugar on the rim and tiny umbrella garnish. He orders a scotch, neat. Ask Ron Swanson. Just Kidding. This is more about moderation. Real men know when they need to stop, and they know how to responsibly enjoy this gift from God.

Outdoors:
God intended man to work the land, and for those of us who are not farmers, we can find many ways to commune with nature: yard work, fishing, hunting, sports, hiking, or, even, the romantic picnic date.

Children and Fertility:
The authentically masculine man does not want to completely avoid children, and he does not sterilize himself so that he can render the manliest part of himself, broken. He sees the gifts of life and the beauty of the fully open act of love between a husband and wife. He doesn’t want to use his wife for self gratification. He doesn’t think about the gaming systems or cars that he will have to sacrifice, or the time he may have to devote to his children. He is selfless enough to see what good children bring into the world and to welcome them with loving, fatherly arms. He is selfless enough to embrace his wife’s body, as it is, and not as he wants to poison it to be.

God:
The authentically masculine man believes in God and respects and loves Him. He does not seek to live a nihilistic and hedonistic life, as he pleases. He leads prayer in his family, and displays good examples of living the faith to his friends, co-workers, and family. If he marries, he especially, leads his wife and children to God. He knows that his actions teach his children much more than his words, many times.

Whining:
A monk once said that whining is immodest for a man because it displays less than they are, making them fall short of what God intended for man. Whining is self-emasculating and makes it appear as if a man feels he deserves less suffering in life. No one is above the master, and Jesus had quite a bit he could have whined about to his apostles, but can you imagine him griping to Peter about how ungrateful everyone is?
As I woman, I’ll be the first to say that we can whine at men a little, but it’s only because we love you. Married men live the longest out of any subset of men. Say thank you. Now, tell me I’m pretty. You’re welcome.

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Demeanor:
Somewhere along the line, a few men got the idea that being jerks or misogynists, was authentically masculine. This is not. It is a counterfeit, and not a good one. It’s like trying to pass of Monopoly money to a cashier. You don’t fool me. Authentically masculine men treat everyone with the dignity and respect due to another human being; they have manners. They don’t allow themselves to be walked all over because they have self-respect, but they aren’t out there saying demeaning things about other groups such as women or the poor. They are too good for that.

Health:
The authentically masculine man knows that others may depend on him and need him in their lives, especially if he is a father. He takes reasonable care of his body. He doesn’t go so far as to worship his appearance, but he maintains himself in a way that says he understands that he matters. He knows his children need a father. My own husband never exercised until we had children. Suddenly, someone depended on him, and he saw that he had to make sure he was going to be there. It’s responsible, it’s moral, and it’s masculine.

I hope this list rings true to you, but maybe it just ticked you off, royally. I apologize. It’s just my opinion. Close your computer, and pretend you didn’t read it. It’s a silly blog, written by some little woman with a superiority complex. 😃img_0278

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This Catholic Life #12: Special Guest, Haley Stewart

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I was blessed to have Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas, on this episode. We talk about her life, liturgical living, tattoos, and being the person you are meant to be. The books mentioned in the show are available on her website. Recording was a blast, and I hope to have her on again, someday!

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