If I can raise a puppy, I can raise a child…right?

I will admit that as a teen, babies weren’t my thing. I did my fair share of babysitting and child wrangling, but spending time around opinionated, messy humans of small stature and questionable balance was not my first choice. I preferred furrier mischief. Throughout middle school I was part of a 4-H dog club. We trained our dogs in a variety of categories and then competed at county and state fairs. The amount that I learned being part of that 4-H club is something I will always be grateful for. However, the friend that I gained through those many hours of training is something I will never forget. I was and still am shy in nature. I don’t make oodles of friends and going through the awkwardness of the teen years, a dog who wanted to be my constant companion without caring about really anything else, was perfect. We were a constant duo and if I could have taken her everywhere, I would have. As I grew older, so did she and for some reason God decided that dogs should have short life spans. My life was rapidly transitioning from school, to work, to marriage. She met and approved of my now husband and not long after, her time was up. 
Time moves on and I found myself buying a house, opening the door to the possibility of getting a new dog. As life would have it, I got pregnant and my husband and I had to make a choice. Do we get a dog now or wait until the baby is a toddler? We got the dog, who we both quite like, but now I found myself facing another serious anomaly. What was I going to do with an tiny, opinionated, messy human of my own? Everything I new about raising things was derived from taking a 6-8 week old puppy and teaching it how to be a proper house guest. Surely if I admitted that my parenting approach consisted of Google and what I new from raising puppies people would be aghast. 

My baby is now quickly approach the 1.5 year mark and so far we are all still alive and mostly unscathed. The good news is that there is no “right” way to raise a child because they are all unique and uniquely different. (This is also the bad news.) As my daughter develops and becomes more interactive, I am amazed at how her perception of the world extends as far away as she can get while still seeing me. I am her everything. Separation from me is excruciating, horrible, terrifying and meltdown inducing. Her sense of trust is connected to my presence. This is NOT the same with dogs. Puppies hit a point where they realize there is a whole world on the other side of their fence and it’s meant for exploring. I think this would be called young adulthood for humans, but babies…no. Developmental rates between kids and dogs vastly differ in some aspects. 

The weight of the responsibility that comes from the complete reliance of my toddler can be intimidating. However, it is also enlightening. For a being that can’t communicate with words, our days are like a constant game of charades. It’s my job to figure out her needs, but I also know that regardless of my deciphering she trusts me to make the right choice. If only I had the same attitude towards my relationship with God. How often I feel like a babbling toddler trying to communicate my requests to God. I need to trust that regardless of my interpretation of a situation, He is making the right choice. 

It’s Only Water

With small children, there is never such a thing as having a plan for the day. My mixing bowl full of muffin ingredients had been sitting on the counter gelifying as the healthy oatmeal I added so thoughtfully had begun to absorb all liquid in the batter. The baby was no longer happy to play on the floor with her toys and the dog was incessantly begging to go outside and partake in the beautiful weather. I figured at this point what would a few more minutes hurt the muffin batter.

So, I embraced my inner monkey and managed to scoop up the Bumbo with my foot and headed out the back door. I now see that I made the very critical error of bringing the baby outside first. As I dashed back inside to grab a bag of frisbees and a hat for the baby, a great wailing came from outside. My baby had realized she was now all alone. Thankfully, after a few moments of consolation her alligator tears ceased and frisbee playing could commence. My dog happily flew through the air after her favorite toy and after a rather hard crash into the grass it looked like I had thoroughly tired out the pooch. I thought that I might now get to take a breather and sit in the grass next to my little one. It was at this moment that I noticed mosquitoes swarming my dog. A deep fear began to rise from within as I realized my poor child had been sitting stationary in the grass. I quickly gathered up our things and dashed inside only to be followed by said evil flying creature.

I was on high alert, but after no sightings of the mosquito, I lit a few citronella candles and hoped for the best. On my way to fill up the dogs water bowl I glanced over at my little one who was happily playing in her highchair only to see a mosquito the size of Mississippi on top of her head. My arm attempted to stretch across the dining room table and as I ran to squish the living daylights out of this evil creature, I did not think about the glass of water that I was sitting down on the highchair. As the mosquito and I entered into battle, I heard a loud clunk beneath me and soon felt a cold sensation pelting my shirt. The shock on my baby’s face, from the recent tidal wave that had soaked her, quickly turned to delight as she realized her tray was now full of a liquid substance.

Realizing that there was really nothing else I can do at this point, I let her play and splash and returned to my neglected muffins. The highchair and surrounding floor are now cleaner and the water provided such an excellent source of entertainment that I may have to do it again. Oh, and the muffins turned out moist and delicious.