As National Puppy Day approaches (March 23 in case you’re heartless), it’s important for the sanity of parents everywhere to remember and distinguish the difference between owning a pet and birthing a child.
Yes, I was once a childless pet-owner, too; so I understand the frustration of occasionally getting up in the middle of the night to let your puppy out to pee and then having to fumble outside in the pitch-dark, shoeless, across dew-y grass to untangle them from the same obstacle, every single time. It sucks. I get it. However, please–I beg you–try to understand why many mothers have to refrain, with every ounce of strength left in our tired bodies, from roundhouse kicking you in the face when you compare your puppy to our motherhood woes.
Hello from the other side, because things changed big time once I “upgraded” from pet-owner to parent. I have two human babies now, and the fact I have to distinguish between “fur” baby and “human” baby makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
And with that in mind, here are just a few, all-in-fun reasons to help understand why a mother’s eyes roll into the back of her head every time pet-owners say they feel like a parent, too:
We both get up in the middle of the night to comfort our babies. The difference is a pet-owner can let the pup out, wait a few minutes and go back to bed. Parents often wake up more than once during the night only to stub a toe on the way into the kitchen to measure powder, pour water and warm it up before we fetch and feed the baby. Or go into the baby’s room, fumble to get a breast out of our nursing bra, drop a nursing pad on the floor and attempt to breastfeed–yawning and half-asleep the whole time. After this, we generally change a diaper, spend an additional thirty minutes shushing our baby back to sleep and praying that they won’t awake as we ninja out of their room and back into bed.
We both clean up potty messes. Pups have accidents around the house–it happens. The difference is that pet accidents don’t happen too often and are generally quick and easy to clean up. Babies, on the other hand, dirty their diapers every couple hours and consistently have blow-outs–at least daily. This causes clothes scrubbing, sometimes floor scrubbing, an extra load of laundry and A LOT of stink throughout the house. Every day.
We both baby-proof (fur or human) our homes. As a pet-owner, I’m sure you’ve removed anything poisonous laying around, put the chocolate on the top shelf, protected anything chewable and grabbed some chew toys. As parents, we have to lock all the cabinets, hide any potentially dangerous liquid (cleaning supplies, soap, etc.), use baby gates to prevent a tumble, make sure any heavy furniture can’t be pulled over, see that the doors to the bathroom or outside are never left opened, keep anything sharp at least three inches from the edge of the counter at all times and make sure no blinds’ cords are hanging low enough to get wrapped around someone’s neck. If you’re a bad pet owner, your pup ends up barfing up an M&M; if I’m a bad parent, my baby ends up in the ER getting X-rays and a cast while I get slapped with $2500 bill.
We both provide food. Chances are you feed your pup 2-3 times a day maximum. You scoop out a cup of pebbles from your $20-30 bag of dog food and call it good. Parents listen to the phrase “I’m hungry” on repeat from about 6am to 8pm. We prep and cook several meals a day for our babies that often end up cried at and on the floor while going through several hundreds of dollars in groceries a month.
We both have to find sitters. No, wait, actually that’s not true. Pet-owners can leave their pups behind and go to work, go out, have a life or whatever else crosses your mind on a whim. When parents want to leave the house, they can’t just leave the house. First they have to make plans with a babysitter. At least 25% of the time, the babysitter doesn’t show and another 25% of the time, someone gets sick, which leaves parents stuck at home–cancelling plans–50% of the time. God forbid both parents work, because if that’s the case, good luck: 1. finding a good daycare, 2. getting to work on time after taking the kids to daycare and 3. paying $20,000+ a year for daycare.
In the end, I get it. We have love for all members of our family, regardless of the amount of fur they may have on their bodies. However, next time your mom-friend stumbles into your life with dark circles under her eyes, god-knows-what on her shirt and hair in a messy bun complaining about her baby, DO NOT, for the love of all that is good and holy, compare your pup to her baby. Just don’t.