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09/16/2009

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What if my child is not likeable or not pretty or not nice or not cute or not smart or not healthy or not.. there will be love, overwhelming love and that's what matters.

I love your honesty here. Some moms-to-be would be embarassed to admit there's an inkling of a chance they prefer pets to kids (or won't like their kids, or any other number of semi-terrible thoughts).

But it's true - I grapple with the same thing. My dog is adorable, like, show-stoppingly adorable. And mostly well-behaved. And so snuggly and loving. What if my kids can't live up to that?

I find solace in realzing that most people probably don't find my puppy as adorable, well-behaved, snuggly or loving as I do. And thus it cements that I'll probably love anything (baby, dog, hedgehog - whatever) that I let into my home to raise, train and spend every day with.
And realistically, I'll probably love my kids more than my dog... which opens up another can of what-if-related questions like "what if my kid is allergic to dogs?" or "what if my dog bites my baby?" Aah! I meant to console you, but I just might have caused anxiety. Oops.

Val-- We are SO birds of a feather. No anxiety caused at all-- I'm already there! When Moose was a puppy (and I means weeks old) I asked my neighbors to start bringing their toddler over so he could get used to being around kids. Now he's very comfortable with kids and likes them-- although his sheer size and clutziness make him a knocking-over hazard!


On Sep 16, 2009, at 7:42 AM, typepad@sixapart.com wrote:

we could lend you 2 for a few weeks so you could figure this out. :-)

Had to comment -- so funny! It may happen, Sarah, but you'll live through it. Our daughter is a running, grinning, climbing maniac (who's suddenly developed an interest in my bookcase -- no, contrary to her beliefs, she can't read my Flannery O'Connor books at her age, even though "Mine!" is half of her vocabulary these days). I have known for a while that I love her a ton but that (not to get all Ayelet Waldman here) I LIKE my wry, chill husband a lot more than I like her. After all, my husband just never rubs chicken grease all over my face and clothes (that was Monday night's dinner...). And his favorite activities include consuming high-quality media, making fun of bad politicians, and talking to me, not running laps around our house and chasing neighborhood cats. (My daughter and I do share some interests -- she likes to sit on my lap as we flip through the Martha Stewart desserts cookbook and look at beautiful, elaborate things that I will never cook!).

Unlike your dogs, your child will probably not cover you with kisses or come when you call him/her for a looong time. But from my experience, it really doesn't matter. We pick (hopefully) to love some people we really like, and we take our chances with our kids! That's why they make them cute, that's why our bodies produce oxytocin (the love chemical), and that's why we want babies so bad - so we appreciate 'em when we have them. Or so I tell myself as I sit there, smelling like a chicken-parts factory...;-)

Someone once told me, "After you have kids, your dog will be just a dog." For me, this has been true, though I am sure I didn't have the level of love for my dog that you do for your dogs. Also, my dog is kind of irritating and my kids are completely awesome. However, I do also remember realizing (pre-kids) one day how very much I did love my dog, and thinking, Well, people must love their kids more than I love this dog, and that feeling of love must be pretty incredible. And that has been true as well. :)

I have this same thought a lot! My husband, who also loves our dogs a lot, sometimes half-jokingly says, "If you love our (hypothetical) child half as much as you love our dogs, you'll be a good mom."

I'm sure things will change once you have a child and your dog will "just be a dog." However, I swore that I will never ignore my dogs once a child comes along. My brother-in-law and his wife completely ignore their poor dog. This isn't during the first frenzied year of parenthood. Their children are going on 6 and 3 years of age. The poor outcast dog is desperate for eye contact and a simple pat on the head.

I speak from a bird perspective. We were fairly devoted to the birds, until the baby came. And then we ignored the birds for the most part out of sheer exhaustion.

I don't like either of my kids right this second because they're not sleeping when they should be, and thus inconveniencing my peaceful afternoon. There are many things I don't like about them, sometimes on a daily or hourly basis. But I love them with my whole heart, and I'm excited to spend time with them and find out what great new things they've learned.

Here's when it turned for me; I remember this clearly. When D. was first home from the hospital (and you know, that was like five weeks after he was born) I was kissing on him and suddenly realized, "Hey, I can kiss him all I want. No one's going to come in and take him back. I can love on this kid as much as I want and no one can stop me!"

There's also the knowledge that there is NO ONE else who can fix a bonked head or hurt finger or bad dream. That's pretty powerful stuff. That's where your connection comes from. Even when you don't feel like it, you are Mom the Almighty, and it's amazing.

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