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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5 Ways being a SAHM transformed my faith

Preface: I want to be completely transparent and say that I do still contribute to my family income, albeit not near as much as when I worked outside the home. I, also, do not mean to denigrate or belittle those who must or choose to work outside the home or those who are well-to-do. I only mean to share my experience. I felt a strong call to go be at home with my children, and with that call, has come every grace that one could imagine. Pax Vobiscum. 🙂 #MommySolidarityNotWars

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The 5 ways in which being a stay-at-home-mom strengthened my faith:

#1. Reliance on God:
Nothing will make you pray quite like having a hospital bill arrive at the same time the car needs new tires and the toilet decides to irreversibly back-up, after a toddler threw some Legos in it. When I worked outside of the home, I had faith, don’t get me wrong, but now, I must put much more trust in the Lord. I have to believe that if I am living His plan, He will not abandon me.
We continually must turn to prayer and ask the Lord for guidance. I can no longer just buy my way out of every situation and sit smugly, knowing I can fix my own problems, completely of my own accord. Undoubtedly, I have a much greater appreciation for the Lord and how He cares for His flock. Time and time again, He has presented us with small miracles and clear paths. Thanks be to God! Matthew 6:25-34 is my constant motto!

#2. Reliance on the Christian Family:
Recently, my grandfather’s health took a turn for the worst. He lives far from me, and as it was somewhat unexpected, I need to round-up funds quickly to fly to visit him. When I was working, I would have just paid for overnight care for the kids, bought a ticket, and gone to visit him. Done deal. That would have been fine and good, but because of my situation, staying at home with the kids, our finances do not allow for impromptu splurges, no matter how necessary.
I took it to prayer, instantly. I talked with my friends about my internal struggle, and they prayed with me. As I shared my story with women close to me and we prayed together, no small miracle was granted to me. Many women who had heard of my sadness and plight, rounded-up funds, and they presented me with a paid in full, plane ticket. I weep when I think of the love and generosity that was shown to me that day.
I felt the true Christian spirit that day. I relied upon my sisters in Christ to hold me up when I was down, to pray together, to give to those who were in need, and I needed to be humble enough, not to deny this gift. I still weep when I think of the kindness of these women, many of whom, also, come from families with tight budgets. They did not cast judgement upon me, sneering at me for not making more money. They just loved me and were Christ to me. Again, I was reminded that He will never abandon us. I will never doubt God or His children, again!

The last picture I took with my grandfather before he passed, thanks to the women who cared for me when I was in need.
The last picture I took with my grandfather before he passed, thanks to the women who cared for me when I was in need.

#3. Money and marriage:
This is probably sounding a little redundant, at this point, but it’s important. Having a much tighter budget means that I MUST discuss purchases with my husband. I must get creative, and I must sort out what is truly necessary. My husband and I talk more than ever! If we need groceries, we can get them, but I must discuss with him what it is that he thinks is necessary and compare it with my idea of necessary.
This near constant finance dialogue may sound stressful, but it has actually been instrumental in reestablishing conversation. When I worked full-time, we both felt us slowly drifting apart. It wasn’t intentional, but it just happened. We simply did not need to talk as much, and so, we didn’t.
Now, we are a team; we are in this together. We are both called to this life by God, and as we live His plan together, He has showered grace upon grace into our lives through friends, gifts, peace, and love. I appreciate my husband as a reliable and earnest provider, and he appreciates me as a loving and caring steward of the home. We are definitely more in love, and communicating better than ever!

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4. Self-worth and value:
When I worked, I was definitely capable of much in my life. I am an intelligent, educated woman, who is good with critical thinking, with a love of science. I never felt very comfortable or sure of myself, though. I always doubted and felt the lesser party, in my marriage. I thought that would only get worse when I went home and quit my full-time job. I would be contributing even LESS, as I saw it.
I was so wrong! In order to make our budget work, I needed to become the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. I learned to cut hair watching hours of YouTube channels, because paying for four hair cuts every six weeks was not in the budget. I learned to sew and to knit. I re-purposed my husbands worn out shirts into beautiful, one-of-a-kind dresses for our daughters! I learned to cloth diaper. I learned how to bake bread from scratch. I learned how to knit sweaters. I learned how to make everything from scratch because pre-made is more expensive. I learned to soak beans and to use them, instead of canned. I learned to can and to preserve. I found and drove to dent stores to buy discounted goods, and knowing what I know now, I would choose it all over again. I am so confident in my abilities and in God’s grace being sufficient, in all cases, now. I, also, think I would survive the zombie apocalypse, in case you were wondering….
I had no idea of what I was capable before, but I am, now, a woman comfortable in her own skin and capable of so much. Whatever my family needs me to be, I am confident I can become it, through the grace of God, if He be calling me to it!

My girls wearing some of those legendary, scrap dress. #HomemadeClothesFTW
My girls wearing some of those legendary, scrap dress. #HomemadeClothesFTW

5. Humility:
               I was blessed in childhood and young-adulthood, as I came from a well-to-do family with loving and hard-working parents. We had a lot of enviable and wonderful things in our lives.
As a stay-at-home-mom,  as an adult, given my husband’s single income, we are anything but well-to-do. I no longer have designer bags, shoes, or luxury cars. I don’t have fancy and restorative vacations. I don’t have new clothes. I don’t often get to indulge in splurges.
I must always be upfront about our means when we make plans with friends, about what we can afford. I have to be honest, and let go of my pride. So, Sally down the street knows that we aren’t swimming in money? Why does that matter? Admittedly, I thought it did at one point. I thought what I had was my status and my value. I was so wrong, and becoming a SAHM has lead me to that realization. I am not my bank account.
Our bank account does not determine our value before God. The billionaire and the beggar will both go before the Lord, equal in His eyes. I needed to let go of a lot of embarrassment and preconceived ideas about what was a NEED. Sadly, the latest Marc Jacobs bag wasn’t a need. (Le Sigh!).
This baring of self and honesty about our humble means, has lead me to a lot of personal humility. I am, now, a part of the league of the have-nots, and that’s OK, because, truly, I have the Lord. I can never be a have-not.

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