Dear puppy parents,
As the mom of a toddler (the human kind), I’m writing to you today to set the record straight on a few minor points.
There’s all kinds of love in the world. But as both a human mom (who also happens to be a mom to a furry dog and cat), I have to say that while I love your dog, comparing our lifestyles doesn’t really work … at all.
Yes, it’s true that the poop schedules of a new puppy and a new human are roughly the same (and so is the cleanup for the first few months). You’ve also taken on a lot of responsibility to get your puppy trained, fed, and cared for. However, most of the similarities stop there.
So even though we coexist in this new reality where Max has overtaken Bruno as the most common dog name, and millennials more and more replace parenthood with pet ownership, navigating the furry baby versus human baby conversation can be tricky. Here’s how to best relate to us human moms and dads so we can all stay friends.
A bit of background: Before I gave birth to my now toddler, we thought we had decided on a name. It was a family name — staid, even. I’d ordered a monogrammed Christmas stocking already. Then not one, but two of our friends and acquaintances gave their new puppies the exact same name. I was mentally prepared for other couples to beat us to the name … but other pet parents?
From what my single friends have told me, the unfortunate stigmas against single, unmarried women remain (which seems nuts — has our society still not seen “Sex and the City” season 2?) The last thing I want to do is legitimize that wrong-headed assumption: That it’s somehow a less moral decision to decide not to have children. It’s not.
Do your thing, lean in, and haters gonna hate. Name your dog George, Frank, or whatever you want.
Actually, a newborn puppy is a great starter set for understanding what human moms are going through. And you can totally bond with your friends over that high-maintenance stage. However, it’s crucial to recognize that stage goes on a lot longer for your human mom friends. For example, here’s a little insight into my world at the moment:
- on month 11 of disrupted sleep
- paying for day care
- just set up a college fund
- teaching a baby how to walk and talk
- trying to grow my career
- re-initiating my sex life
So you can see why I’m a little perplexed when a dog parent comes by and, stretching, exclaims, “God, I’m SO TIRED. I’m free for brunch. You?”
Also, the clothes. My goodness, the cute dog clothes, accessories, and gadgets today are beyond. Go shopping with your buddy! You can both delight in the overstocked baby and pet sections, as well as bond over the conflict between your parental urge to deck your kid out in the latest and greatest and your credit limit.
That said, try not to diminish the psychological and physical demands of raising a little human. Chances are, your friend is trying to raise a kid that will be responsible and caring enough to adopt their own dog someday (or in the case of my son, three farms and a marine conservatory). With great power comes great responsibility, which is why raising a human is something that puppy parents simply cannot empathize with yet.
So here’s all I ask: When your mom friend is at the end of her rope and just needs a coffee and a casserole, offer to bring your well-trained dog over for a Netflix and snuggle while you watch the baby. You will win the friendship contest, hands down, as well as better understand what her life is like.
Lastly, don’t take every opportunity to compare your friend’s baby to your adorable new puggle. As tempting as it may be (we’re connecting!), it is far more likely to send your friend over the edge than anything else. No one likes to feel misunderstood, and you may inadvertently be underlining the fact that you don’t get it. Rather than drawing every conceivable parallel between the two, maybe just ask if she needs a solid puppy snuggle, and tell her that she still looks pretty when covered in spit-up.
It takes a village to raise a kid, after all. And in an ideal world, plenty of doggy kisses, too.
Your tired human mom friend