Go ahead, bring up your experience with your dog when we’re talking about my daughter. I know you know that a dog and a baby are different species. So, when you compare caring for your dog to me caring for my kid, I am totally 100% OK with it.
We only know what we know, and sometimes we just want to find commonalities and make connections.
This extends beyond pet owners. If you don’t have children of your own but are an aunt/uncle or hang with the kids of friends, great! If you share a story about your sister/friend/next door neighbor/hair dresser’s success with such-and-such parenting tool, or you share about a favorite toy you know the kids in your life love, that’s great. I know you’re not the expert, and that’s OK.
Again, I hope you’re just trying to be helpful and/or participate even though you may not have the same exact life experience as I do.
During a recent conversation with a friend, I was confused when she sputtered, apologized and seemed overly embarrassed after she brought up her dog when we were talking about my baby and my new mommyhood. Then she told me how she had been publicly scolded by another friend when she casually shared a story about her dog in the context of this woman’s new baby. I don’t know what this other mama was going through but I wish she had given my friend the benefit of the doubt.
I know it can be frustrating for new moms when people who spend a few hours with their niece each week, or friends with a pet think they know anything about parenting a tiny human. The enormity of having a child cannot be replicated or even imagined. It can only be experienced first hand. But even those of us who have experienced it can’t agree on what the experience is like.
I loved (and still love) being a “dog mom” and feel like I learned about myself and my husband in the context of caring for our puppies. A few years back when my cocker spaniel jumped onto our bed in the middle of the night to carefully place a gigantic puddle of puke in between us and my husband offered to clean it all up, and we quickly replaced the sheets in perfect harmony, I thought “yeah, we might be able to handle parenthood some day.” More responsibility means more opportunities to figure out how to act when the going might get tough. My husband and I have had to make all kinds of decisions – big and small – over the years regarding our life, careers, home and yes, our pets, and it has made us grow and learn as a couple and as individuals. Do I think my experience with my dogs prepared me for being a mom? Yes! …And absolutely, resoundingly, no!