I became a mother at twenty-two. Not the scandal of teenage pregnancy, but still young as hell. I became a mother to a four year old beagle named Peanut. I had no job. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and I was looking for the unconditional love of a furry creature who was always happy to see me.
I’m not really a “kids” person. I struggle to converse with anyone below the age of ten, and I’m not going to offer to hold your baby. Even my own niece, who I love beyond what words can express, still makes me cringe when she puts her hands in her mouth and reaches to touch me. Between the sticky hands and the crying I consider myself useless when it comes to care of children. Yet here I am picking poop up after my own four year old daily.
I think I realized the full transformation of becoming a dog mother was complete while taking Peanut to the vet’s office. Alone. I’ve never been responsible for any one other than myself and I do a lousy job at even that. My own mother is the one who reminds me of going to the dentist and getting check ups, and she was the one who was supposed to go to the vet’s office with me as back up. Instead she had a real baby to look after.
Suddenly here I was. Receiving instructions on the meds that would have to be administered every twelve hours, and realizing that for the next ten or so years I would have the responsibility of keeping this animal alive. Now clearly that is a thought you should process before adopting a dog, but even if it does come across your mind it doesn’t really hit until the first time you buy dog food or pay a medical bill.
Not only am I responsible for the welfare of this dog, but I have begun to coo at him. I’ve become a mother and now I’ve started to coo. Something I never thought would happen. I’m unable to resist giving him kisses and hugs at every possible second which his reaction to is to just turn his head away and make a sighing noise in his throat. Our relationship mirrors that of the one I have with my own mother. A woman who I love but ultimately just tolerate her need for affection.
I find myself worrying about how much he eats, or whether or not he is still sad after I leave the house in the morning. I’m constantly paranoid that the dogs he encounters on the street won’t be nice to him. I’m a worried mother, and it’s crazy how quickly it happened. My parents take this as a sign for the kind of trouble I’ll be in when I reproduce my own offspring of the human kind, but it’s yet another reason for me on why I should avoid it all together. If having a dog brings this kind of stress I have no business with the real deal.
My brother likes to tease me and ask about when I’ll have my own family and I just remind him of my beagle. He tends to get annoyed when I compare raising a child to raising a dog, which he has a right. I mean raising a dog is much easier. At least I only occasionally have to wipe his butt, and I don’t have to pay for him to go to college. Motherhood is something I’ve consistently been dead against, but here I am. A four year old fur child snoring in my bed. I should probably set better boundaries, oh well…