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?!” ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

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, ย 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 onย Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Etsy, for the latest podcast episodes, art prints, and catholic blurbs!

 

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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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Motherhood’s 7 Corporal Works of Mercy

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The following is intended to be comedic. Please do not take it too seriously. Enjoy!

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The Motherhood Corporal Works of Mercy:

  1. Give drink to the thirsty = Breastfeeding
    1. I don’t have to tell any mother that breastfeeding and rocking a baby back and forth, at all hours of the night, makes her some kind of martyr! From cracked nipples to plugged ducts to supply struggles, you have a lot of suffering uniting you with Christ, mama.
  2. Feed the hungry = Breastfeeding; Enduring kids begging, “can I have a snack yet”, approximately, 234134782193471280973489012 times a day.
    1. The breastfeeding is conveniently both, feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, but it doesn’t end there.
    2. As a mom, you will be made a saint by enduring some broken record version of, “I’m hungry! I need a snack!” Maybe I should auto-tune them for fun? Imagine Akon harping after you, “I’m staAAaaaaaAAAAaaaarving, Ma!” On second thought, no.
  3. Shelter the homeless = Skipping the designer purse and shoes
    1. You give yourself a damn pat on the back! You may have to hold back the tears as you put that fancy, designer, leather handbag on the shelf whilst holding your stained and torn diaper bag, but you have allowed your children to keep their home by being a good steward of your family finances! Good on you mama. Offer it up, and enjoy the roof over your head with your beautiful children.cropped-img_16722.jpg
  4. Visit the sick = BOOGERS EVERYWHERE
    1. Have you met a toddler?! Adorable and comedic petri dishes of the booger plague, they are! This corporal work comes to YOU! Johnny may have just licked the floor in that public restroom or eaten m&m’s off the floor of the subway train, making that vein in your forehead throb a little, but don’t worry! You get to exercise this corporal work of mercy, soon! You needn’tย  even go to the hospital.
  5. Visit the prisoners = Discipline
    1. Whether you had to take your teens phone and computer, making them feel like a prisoner ๐Ÿ™„, or you are sitting in front of a toddler preventing them from leaving timeout, you definitely got this one done.
  6. Bury the dead = Pets; Toys
    1. I recently attended a heartfelt burial at sea (the toilet) for our goldfish, complete with a loudly wailing child, music, and a eulogy. We have even had to say goodbye to a hedgehog. Don’t laugh. I deserve an Oscar for playing my part as funeral officiant and sad mourner. I did get choked up when we had to let a dog go as a family. Death is always hard on a family. Consider that lovingly attending to your children and getting this right means your kids will know how to cope later on in life. Your role is important, mama!
    2. I must periodically go through and find all the ‘dead’ or broken toys and take them to the dump. Is this a burial? I submit that it is!
  7. Give alms to the poor = Rice Bowl; Chore tithing
    1. Parishes nationwide participate in Operation Rice Bowl where people collect their change and money throughout Lent to feed the hungry. Do this with your kids. Try to give them an allowance, even just a quarter for ‘helping’ you clean. Explain to them how a tithe works and why we do it. This work is arguably one of the most important. Raising people who are in the habit of helping the poor is one of the best things you can offer the world and the church, as a mother!
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Do not reproduce this whole work, excerpts, portions, or media in this work without permission. Protected intellectual property.

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