Before we adopted our dogs, I joked that they could teach us about parenthood. (Honestly, I was secretly hoping. I had killed so many plants that I doubted whether I could keep anything alive.) Little did I know how much I would learn about parenting! These are the top ten lessons I’ve learned that will help me prepare for becoming a parent someday.
- Bodily functions – Vomit. Poop. Pee. We’ve had this stuff everywhere in our house. We never had candles lit around our house until we had dogs. Now I realize why some people are so into candles. Once we have a child, poop that I can consistently find inside of a diaper (as oppose to in the hallway, in the bedroom, in a dog mouth…) might even seem refreshing!
- Injuries – My mom once said that the only thing worse than being in pain is seeing your child in pain. We’ve made a few trips to the emergency vet for ripped toenails and allergic reactions, so I’ll have a little practice for dealing with scary injuries when my future son comes inside with a bleeding chin.
- Feeding someone – I was never good with plants because they don’t tell you what they need. At first, Fitz didn’t tell us if we forgot to feed him. Now, he whines and barks if it’s a couple of hours after his normal supper time. Although I’m assuming my baby will cry if I, for some reason, am not compelled to feed her on time, I at least have practice remembering to care for someone.
- Being consistent – I think one of the hardest things about parenthood will be disciplining (or redirecting) my child for bad behavior time after time. With our puppies, we’ve seen how one or two instances of “letting them off the hook” can turn your dog into a table-begger or bed-sleeper.
- Hurting someone with a purpose – Parents don’t like taking their kids to get shots. It’s not fun to try to get your child to eat broccoli or clean his room. It’s also not fun to take dogs to get shots, to clean their ears when they have an ear infection, or to clip their toenails. However, inflicting necessary pain on my dogs for their own good will hopefully help me steel myself in similar situations once we have kids.
- Someone always wanting my attention – A few months after we got Fitz, I started feeling really lonely and distant from Dexter. I finally realized that it was because Fitz forced himself in between us in bed and on the couch, so our physical contact went WAY down. We’ve finally found a balance between paying enough attention to our puppies so they feel loved and getting to spend enough time together. I imagine new parents need to find a similar balance.
- Lack of sleep – My friend Sarah recently posted on how their family has started co-sleeping–something she never really planned on doing. It reminded me of our own bedtime situation (only we have a smaller bed and bigger snugglers). We force our puppies to hop off the bed and to get in their own dog beds before turning off the light each night. Every morning, we wake up to curled up dogs between our feet or in the middle of the bed with their legs stretched out, somehow hogging 75% of our blankets. However, I don’t plan on swatting my children and yelling, “Off!” at them to get them out of bed.
- Loving someone undeserving – Jesus loves us, even though we don’t deserve it. In fact, we reject him, sin against him, and give him a bad reputation. My dogs steal the covers, rip up my couch pillows, eat Dexter’s shoes, chew holes in our undergarments, poop in our hallway, and stink up the air with their terrible gas. And I choose to love them and not let them loose on the street because
they are micro-chipped and the shelter would send them back to methey are my responsibility and that’s what Jesus wants me to do. Although babies are cute and kids can often be profoundly sweet, their behavior doesn’t always inspire all those lovey feelings.
- Photo-craziness – It seems like lots of new parents, when they aren’t feeding, changing, or sleeping, are snapping photos of the new babies. I am embarrassed to say how much computer memory is taken up with cute photos of Fitz and Watson. I avoid sharing them on my blog, not for the privacy of my puppies, but because I’m afraid it would get out of control and this would become “Fitz and Watson’s mom’s photoblog.”
- Accepting staying in – We can’t spontaneously choose to zip out of town for the weekend or stay out much more than eight hours at a time. While, for new parents, this is kind of a “duh” thing, it took me a while not to be frustrated that I had to make my errand running less convenient or my night less entertaining because of my dogs. We’re practicing giving up the fun stuff you can do when you don’t have kids to be responsible for early, so it might not sting so badly to say no to something fun when we’re home because of a human baby.