I received a request for a blog post from a reader on being a dog mom, asking if I could write about how I dealt with the way that it changes your life.
Today I’m here to share my own experience and perspective of general LIFE changes and how we get through them. Because I can think of more ways “normal life” is disrupted, outside of being a pup-mama.
When I was thinking about writing this post I found it interesting that I couldn’t really remember everything about the beginning hard points of having Abby. I could logically recall some things that were hard but I couldn’t feel the extent of the hard that they were just by memory. A better way to say this is that I’m desensitized to those beginning days (and am wanting them again!) now that it’s been a while. Is this what mothers go through in their first days of parenting a babe?
After thinking further, I feel the same about when I was going through everything with my mom. I remember it all and I do remember the hard and I do remember how I felt, but it felt so much harder IN IT. In it was more of a “wow, I couldn’t survive this forever, and I love her so much, and I’d do anything for her.” Out of it is like “wow, if I had to do that all over again for her I would in a heartbeat.”
I think it’s the same foundation for care taking of ANY being. It’s hard, it changes your life, your normal routine is thrown off, there are things you had the freedom to do before that shift, priorities change.
And that’s what this reader was describing with her pup. She loves her dog. She’s happy to have her dog. And she’s mourning her old life simultaneously where she didn’t have all of the dog-mom responsibilities.
Having a baby, getting a puppy… they’re no small feat. You do have to consider that life will shift considerably, especially with a baby, which is where Marco and I are at right now. Still in that stage of considering how much life will change for us with a baby.
But back to Abby… when we got her we loved her so darn much that the change was embraced. I wanted to wake up with her, hook her to her leash, and take her out in the middle of the night to potty, multiple times.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t so tired each time when she woke me up. But thoughts that really helped me to have (our thoughts are likely the most significant piece of this entire post – I’ll touch on this more) were “I feel like I’m helping her to get exactly what she needs, and that feels so good. I feel connected to her.”
There was one weekend (my friend Chase would be HARD eye-rolling right now saying “oh, ONE weekend Paige? I’m so sorry!” – his dog woke him up A LOT as a puppy, ha!) where Abby woke up me up every 30 minutes because her stomach was so upset. That was exhausting.
But honestly, I feel that Abby was a pretty easy pup. She had no interest in peeing unless she actually had to pee. She had a few poo-poo accidents in the house when her stomach hurt and we didn’t get her out on time. She always ate her food (we free feed her – meaning, we sit her food out, keep it full, and she can eat when she wants) and she’s always been excited about her toys and treats (which makes us super happy).
Things that changed:
- We now had to come home more often to check on her when we went out
- It’s not as easy to go on vacation – we now have to consider her and figure out who she’s stay with or if she’ll come with us
- Our routine shifted – we now have to consider walks, feeding her, and not leaving her alone all day (that’s just a value for us!)
But even so, life is BETTER with her. I look at her and can’t believe how much value she’s added to our lives. She’s a cuddle bug. She’s insanely excited to see other people and dogs. I love her love.
I would take all of these changes in a heartbeat over not having her at all (I feel grief when I think about that).
Now to touch on how important our thoughts are…
There have been times where I’ve been soooo frustrated with Abby because *I think* she’s not listening. Sometimes she really isn’t listening. But in the moments I’m thinking about, it was often me not understanding her.
For example, I once got mad at her, tugged on her leash and pulled her inside to let her know how “bad” she was being (ugh, still so sad when I think about this) when she was playfully bitting at her leash on our walk. When I told her to stop she puppy growled at me. I *thought* she was being mean; I thought it was a mean “I’m mad at you” growl. Little did I know then (I’d only had her a month) Abby doesn’t have a friggin’ mean bone in her body – I was worried that she did. She was just trying to play with her mom. Yes, she needed to be corrected so she didn’t learn to bite her leash as a toy, but I could have corrected her so much more lovingly if I would have had different thoughts about it like “She thinks she’s playing and having fun with mom. Let me slow down and show her a different way to play.” Or something of that nature…
So in terms of thoughts about life changes, whether it’s an adult dog, puppy, relationship, baby, or taking care of someone you love who needs help, embrace that your routine will change. Embrace that yes, there will be moments where you miss your old normal (simply because that likely felt “easier”) but keep your perspective on now.
Good doesn’t equal easy.
It was NOT easy changing my entire life for a solid year to be with my mom, but I wouldn’t change even one second of that time with her. In fact, I wish I could just soak up more. I’d do it again.
It isn’t always easy raising a pup or choosing to stay in over going out (though, we rarely do that we just make it work). My routine has shifted, yes, but I think about it in terms of loving to have Abby as a part of my new routine.
When we have a baby, I’m sure I’ll have a whole lot more to say about this. But for now I’ll say this. I have friends with brand-new babes and I know from just watching them that the first however-many months are about survival. There isn’t routine at first. Your old normal is gone for a while but if you make that okay, then it’s okay. If you make it okay that you’re going to be up at night, exhausted, and probably crying from time to time, then you don’t feel so WRONG that that’s happening. I can’t speak to this area as much as others can, but only from what close friends, clients and family have shared with me.
So much of our experience of ANYTHING has to do with our perspective and thoughts/choices about it.
Speaking of choices, Marco and I still go out and crate Abby. We felt guilty for putting her in her crate at first, but realized that we care more about it than she does. We make her crate a happy place where she goes to take breaks, to play with a toy. Her food is right near her crate (used to be inside but she knocks it over, ha!), it’s cozy with a blanket, and she will willingly go hang in there when we’re around the house and the door is open.
So we go to dinner. We go spend time with friends. We bring her where we can and we keep living when we can’t. What looks different now is that we don’t leave for a whole day. We come back in between, check on her, take her out, let her run around, and then if we go back out we may choose to make it a little shorter than we would have before.
If you’re in a space where you’ve just taken on a giant new responsibility and you’re NOT doing things for yourself out of *guilt* please talk with someone who can encourage you. You MUST still take care of you, ask for help, and get out of the house. You MUST still take care of you for the pure fact that you don’t feel completely crazy in the chaos. Right? Agree? Can I get an amen from anyone?
But it’s *all worth it.* I would not change a thing. I love her like she is my daughter because right now, she is my only daughter.
To wrap up… big life changes happen. Some of the best most real things in life include huge changes. Detours to routines, interruptions, things not happening the way we planned, but it’s so much about what we think about these things that matter.
With my mom, that clearly could have been a pure negative. Cancer sucks. It’s wretched. But we focused primarily (other than all the focus treatments and care taking took) on spending time together. On talking. On resting together. On meeting whatever the needs of that day were. It didn’t feel like the worlds most negative experience. It did for her when it came to the pain of it (ugh, breaks my heart) but that sweet woman kept a positive attitude. She thanked God for everyday and always asked for one more. She loved on her family and friends. I can still hear her voice to this day saying my friends/families names… “Marco!” “Kayla!” “Megan!” “Hey Shell!”
It’s got so much to do with our lens of life, and so much less to do with the actual circumstances. Hard things are going to happen. Good things are going to come into our lives that feel hard, some of the time. Instead of wishing them away or spending too much mental energy mourning the past, focus on what’s here, now. How you can embrace the new changes. That’s my best encouragement for this topic.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on big life changes and how you embrace them! Do you ever miss your old normal? Totally normal if so. Share in the comments how when you do miss that old normal, you bring yourself back to the here, now. I think it could be really helpful to share some love and encouragement with other women who are experiencing this same thing, below – will you do that in the comments? Love you guys!