When our oldest son graduated from high school a few years ago, my husband and I adopted our sixth child (and first girl). Some jokes were made about replacing him despite our strong assurances that the timing was a coincidence. So it wasn’t surprising when the jokes resurfaced as our second kid graduated from high school this past spring. Would we adopt again? Did we need to maintain a certain number of humans in our home at all times? Seriously, people, everyone has their saturation point, and we have ours. No more children! I mean it!
But, well, maybe a puppy would be fun…
This is a good time for me to mention two things:
- I am not a dog person and never have been. We once had a dog and I loved him but we had him when we were outnumbered by little people and he just added way too much to the chaos (so why would I want that again?). Dogs are slobbery, loud and smelly. They also require extra work and money to keep them alive.
- Our youngest started kindergarten this fall which means when I am home during the school day I am alone. So… why would I want to take on a fur baby?
But maybe it would be fun and I can be the cool mom and say yes to the endless requests for a dog (instead of the grumpy mom who says no to all of the things). It is also possible that there is some kernel of truth in the theory that I have a need to maintain a certain number of living things in my home (let’s revisit this in two years when my third kid graduates). And so, after much discussion, at the end of the summer we brought home our latest living thing.
Amazingly, it only took THREE DAYS (THREE DAYS!!!) for the honeymoon to be over. My kids broke every promise they made about doing, “all of the work,” to take care of the puppy. I knew that their enthusiasm for him would wane but not this quickly. I would ask a certain ungrateful child (the one who begged the loudest for this dog, the one who SWORE he would do ALL of the dog walking) to uphold his end of the bargain and his response was, ‘he didn’t feel like it.’
Appalling, I know.
I could get mad or I could use this alarming change of events to my advantage. I gave him a choice: either you walk the dog or I will. If I walk the dog, YOU will keep your younger siblings alive while I’m gone. Surprisingly, he preferred keeping the other humans alive. And so, at the tail end of our summer (see what I did there?) three times a day, I was guaranteed a quiet walk with no one to talk to but the dog (and he doesn’t talk back).
Not only did this give me a regular opportunity to leave the house at a point in the summer that we were all bored, it also gave me a chance to breathe and have some peace. And then, something happened. One day as I was singing a little song stuck in my head while walking him through our neighborhood it hit me: I really love this dog. The best part, I will never stay up at night worrying that he’ll need therapy due to my own shortcomings as a parent, he’s not jealous of anyone else (although I think the kids and cats are jealous of him), and he will never, ever tell me that he hates me or that I’m ruining his life.
I am now THAT PERSON.
The one who calls him, “my little pup-pup” and makes embarrassing kissy noises at him. I buy him all the treats, all the toys and, he must have a light up collar so he’s safe at night. I am now that person filling up my Instagram with adorable images of him.
But it’s not just about me (honestly). While the kids don’t always pitch in as much as I’d like, I definitely see the influence he has on them all. I especially love the relationship that is growing between him and our youngest. I love how sweet he is to her even when she does not behave like she should.
Who am I and who have I become?
A dog person. That’s who I’ve become.
*Note: I want it to be known that I do in fact require my kids to help take care of the dog. They must pick up the poop and take him for regular walks. If a fight breaks out in my home they both have to take him for a walk until they stop fighting (sometimes that guarantees a very long walk).