One of these days, I will be a mom. It’s definitely something I look forward to in the future. In the meantime, I enjoy spending time with my nieces, baby-sitting my friends’ children, and teaching junior high school girls at my church. I also love being a pet-owner. Until last week, it was a pair of cats. But then I introduced a dog into the mix; and over the last 7 days, I’ve decided that everyone who wants to have kids should be required to own a dog first.
I’m compiling a list of valuable lessons, courtesy of my dog, Penny, that I will take forward into parenthood.
- Dogs/babies get up early. So do you. This might be the biggest adjustment for me as a long-time night owl. Since the dog sleeps while I’m at work, she’s ready to go when I get home. My bedtime is pushed back until all her needs are addressed.
- When you DO finally get in bed, sleep comes in short bursts; it’s more like napping. One ear is constantly trained to capture movement or restlessness in case you’re needed again. If you weren’t a light sleeper before, you are now.
- The needs of your dog/baby ALWAYS come before your own. In fact, they rank ahead of your morning coffee. Ha! Food, water, and bathroom breaks all trump whatever you have on your list.
- There’s no such thing as a quick escape from your house. It’s not just you anymore. Now it’s you plus a constant companion. If you’re the type who tends to run on the late side like me, multiply it times SIX!
- Time is of the essence, and so is your time management. Thankfully, the more I have on my plate, the more disciplined I am. My new family addition requires that I budget my time wisely, but so far, that’s nothing but positive.
- You have more stamina than your dog/baby. While they may exude more energy in a half hour than you have all day, they wear out a lot faster than you do. What gets me up the crack of dawn and outside to walk Penny multiple times per day is the knowledge that she will collapse next to the chair after dinner. Wooo!
- If you leave it on the floor or within reach, it will end up in their mouths. Enough said.
- Dogs/babies know only what you teach them. They’re a clean slate, but they learn exponentially. And they respond to your tone of voice much quicker than they understand your words.
- Everything gets dirty quicker: your clothes, the floor, the kitchen, YOU. Dogs/babies are messy. Might as well get used to it. You can still be a clean freak, but it won’t be nearly as easy. Ha!
In barely more than a week of dog ownership, it feels as though I’ve attended a semester’s worth of parenting classes. My priorites have changed out of necessity; but so far, it’s more than worth it. More smiles, more laughter, more work, but more rewards. I didn’t know it was possible, but more than ever, I look forward to being a mom … to my dog, two cats, and a human.