Let me start by saying I love our dog.
Her name is Maggie and she’s a sweet rescue from the Humane Society. She has been in my life for seven years and, other than her seriously stinky breath, she is truly lovely.
But lately my mind has been elsewhere.
And by lately, I mean the past year.
Motherhood has snapped my focus directly to the tiny creature who, at any given moment, could be putting random things in his mouth, grabbing hold of any household object within reach and leaning against absolutely everything so he can pop his wobbly legs up into standing position.
Thing is, babies are curious little things. They are hell-bent on finding unsafe things to play with and enjoy putting their very survival at risk. Perhaps they are thrill seekers who thrive on living on the edge, but one thing is certain, their caregivers do not.
Here is where I say ‘the poor dog.’
She no longer gets the attention she’s accustomed to. Indeed she has put up with a lot since we brought Baby B home.
He is impressively gentle with her but has somehow got it into his head that she wants to be chased (she does not). He also believes she wants to share her dog bed (in no way does she want this). And, finally, he is absolutely convinced that she doesn’t mind when he steals her favourite toy (she most certainly does).
Maggie gives him plenty of kisses, but she may in fact just be cleaning off the crumbs and food splatters he’s regularly coated in.
But the real point of all of this is my guilt.
See, pre-baby Maggie was my running buddy. Now I go to the gym because it offers daycare. My husband and I used to take her out for longer walks more frequently. These days it’s tough to squeeze it all in.
One day I suspect Maggie and baby will be friends, but not for a long while yet. Our son is far too clumsy, unpredictable and much too loud for her tastes.
While I know plenty of people who’ve cast aside their pups once baby arrives, Maggie is family. That said she is nervous, confused and often insecure. She no longer knows her place in the pack and that causes her a great deal of stress.
So fellow parents and dog owners, how have you managed dog and baby?
Or maybe you too are riddled with guilt. Perhaps that’s just the reality, but if you have any tips, do share!
I blinked and there went a year. I knew that would happen. After all, I’d been warned.
Before our son was born, many parents had advised my husband and I to ‘cherish every moment’ because it goes by so fast.
And it does.
A crazy speeding train — that is the first year.
Throughout it, I’ve tried to hold onto every moment. Now it's amazing to think that this time last year I was terrified about going into labour, nervous about finally meeting our baby and freaking out about actually becoming a mom.
After being safely cocooned in my belly, I knew that once our son emerged, the peaceful life we’d created for ourselves would come to a screeching halt.
And it did.
In a nutshell, I was in no hurry to see that happen. I even bowed out of the final physical exam when my doctor told me it tends to give labour an early nudge.
While most women are eager to deliver, I wanted to enjoy every moment of quiet before the newborn storm. Also, I had a good book on the go — Bringing Up Bebe, written by Pamela Druckerman. I wanted to finish it, and I am happy to report that I did, though I was in labour at the time.
It was 4 a.m. when a sharp contraction woke me up, but instead of alerting my husband, I tucked myself in the bathroom and read. But really, this delay wasn’t about the book. I was scared and procrastinating and books have always been my go-to resource for comfort.
When I completed the last page, I felt ready — ready to meet our baby, to hear his cry for the first time, ready to be his mama.
Eleven hours later, he arrived. Then, somewhere between that remarkable day and today, I must’ve hit the fast-forward button because we just celebrated his first birthday.
Our son has gone from a small squish of cellular mush to a strong, confident and mobile baby.
He started rolling and then sitting, crawling and then standing. Soon he will be walking alongside us.
He has grown, and so have we.
While quiet time is now rare, I can’t imagine not hearing our son giggle, babble and coo.
To mark the passing of a year, I started rereading Bringing Up Bebe. It’s still so familiar that it seems like it was yesterday when I was hiding out in the bathroom determined to get through it.
The difference now is I can't imagine what I was so afraid of. Turns out I am a pretty good mom and the little guy isn't so scary after all. The only thing that freaks me out now is fast it's all going. Now that's terrifying.
Time truly does fly when you’re busy having fun and Bringing Up Bebe. Cherish every moment indeed, fellow parents. But you already knew that, didn't you?
When our son was born I knew very little about babies, other than the fact that they were squishy creatures with rather large heads. After bringing him home from the hospital, I was shell-shocked from the reality that, after months of seeing him as a hazy blob on ultrasound images, here he was in the flesh. I had no clue what he might like to do, but surely just lying around nursing was bound to get boring, no?
Armed with toys, I went about parading rattles, black-and-white images, and stuffed animals before him. Instead of happily responding to these efforts, he stared ahead glassy-eyed and unimpressed.
What I learned about our newborn was yes, he really did just want to lie there and nurse. Go figure.
Eventually though, play arrived.
This happened right about the time his gummy grin finally took form at about the five-week mark. He’s now 10 months old and loves to play, smile and laugh. What this means is that you’ll often find me making silly noises, jumping into impromptu dance sessions, and singing my heart.
The daily goals are beautiful and simple — to make our boy happy and see his dimple-cheeked grin as much as possible.
Thankfully, I now get a little help from his toy collection.
One item that he plays with daily is one of the Fisher-Price Favourites, the Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack. This colourful classic has come full circle, as I too had a set of my own as a baby. This is his go-to toy when he’s in his highchair waiting for a meal and now that he’s a crawling machine, he tosses them and scoots around the kitchen gathering them up. It just goes to show that some toys just stand the test of time. That said, modern offerings have also come along way, baby.
Recently our baby met a far more technically advanced toy — the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Love to Play Puppy. When he first heard songs coming from this cuddly puppy (Itsy Bitsy Spider, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and If You’re Happy and You Know It) he began laughing and moving his arms delightedly. This find meets different stages of his learning needs and social needs through play.
Words are written to indicate tummy, foot, hand, and heart and then cheerily said aloud when squeezed to help make connections between words and images. Fun and interactive, the floppy-eared puppy identifies colours, sings the alphabet, and encourages games, such as Peek-a-Boo.
Almost daily, I have the joy of witnessing him make links between cause and effect. These discoveries are fascinating for both of us. I observe the precise moment when he realizes an action can create reaction, and thrillingly, so does he. Seeing his bright blue eyes fill with wonder, imagination and inquisitiveness is so heart-meltingly pure, I want to bottle it.
Since grasping the whole ‘play’ thing, it sometimes seems as though that’s the only thing he wants to do.
Tiring? Absolutely. But it’s also magical. And it means more dimply smiles for us, so it’s win-win all around.