From the moment we find out we are pregnant, we start planning and dreaming about what our baby is going to be like. Who will he look like? What name will suit her? Will I work or can I afford to stay at home? Can I afford quality child care? One thing is certain, a baby changes everything!
I feel a little like a new mom with my “fourth” child: a new puppy. Not unlike a surrogate mother, our breeder kept us anticipating the arrival, sending weekly posts with pictures. We weren’t sure which pup we would end up bringing home but we were already planning how wonderful he would be.
On the first night in his new home, Elvis gave me a taste of having a very needy newborn again. I had been asleep for about two hours when he whimpered and whined to get out of his bed. I hesitated, wondering whether to get up or roll back to sleep. Just like a baby, I thought, on his own schedule rather than mine!
Like a baby, too, Elvis is busy exploring his world, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Not only did we witness him swallow a sock, he produced another one, as well as a furry shoe insole! Babies will put anything they can find in their mouths! Keeping Elvis calm on the way to the vet reminded me of the many coping mechanisms I used to use in the car with my children, sitting in the backseat with them in rear-facing car seats, tapping their pacifiers to help them feel comfortable. Do they make pacifiers for puppies?
But there are real joys to having a “baby” in the house, too. Just like we hope parents do with human babies, I get down on the floor and play with Elvis at his level. I’m consistent with him when he needs discipline, and I follow his cues for meal times and “potty training.” At the end of the day it’s important to remember that with parenting it’s not the planning, the expectations or wondering about the path not taken. It’s about enjoying the journey you’re on.