Before I had kids, I would talk about my dog when my co-workers complained about their kids.
“Jordan slept like crap last night,” my officemate Cathy would say by way of explanation while refilling her coffee mug for the fourth time. “I think she’s teething.”
“Oh, tell me about it,” I’d say, topping off my own mug. “Loki woke me up at 7:30 wanting to play. I’m exhausted.”
(When I was 22, 7:30 a.m. seemed unbearably early. Now it seems downright decadent.)
Or my co-worker Beth would have to rush off for a parent-teacher meeting regarding her occasionally sassy daughter, and I would try to identify with her angst by talking about how Loki had to repeat obedience training twice.
“He never listens to me either!” I’d say, annoyed.
Bless them – they didn’t kill me. They didn’t even chastise me. They just smiled and nodded … and when I had Ruby a few years later and realized what an idiot I’d been, they didn’t say a word.
And when I found myself on the other end of that conversation, listening to my younger childless co-workers complain about how hard it was to have pets when I’d spent hours picking lice out of my daughter’s hair or carried her howling out of Target or been up every hour soothing night terrors or tried to navigate the education system or budget for summer camp or argue with insurance about occupational therapy … well, I didn’t say a word to them either.
I’ve always been grateful that my former colleagues weren’t too judgmental toward me, and now I’m also grateful that I kept my judgment of my colleagues to a minimum or at least kept it to myself – because I’d be eating my words right now.
Getting a 6-week-old puppy was not a bad decision. He is cute and fluffy, and he makes us all laugh hysterically when he leaps and pounces on things. But it also wasn’t a wise decision because puppies are freaking insane. And while Milo is definitely not the same as a baby, he is also not a w-a-l-k in the park. (Yes, he already knows that word well enough that we have to spell it out.)
He frequently wakes up at 2 a.m. because he’s lonely or hungry or needs to pee (just like a baby). He cries all the time to indicate his displeasure and/or excitement (just like a baby). I am constantly wiping up various substances that come out of his body (just like a baby), and I can’t even be mad because he is way too adorable (just like a baby).
Obviously I would never leave my kids home alone in a crate, and as three different lactation consultants can attest, feeding my babies was a good deal more complicated than dumping kibble into a bowl on the floor, so it’s not like I’m saying it’s the same thing.
I am, though, saying that getting a puppy was harder than I remembered.
“Do you regret getting Milo, Mommy?” Georgia asked me one night when I guess I looked particularly frustrated.
“No, of course not!” I said, although if I were being honest, I would have said, “Oh, maybe, sometimes, a little bit,” but I was scared that would lead to questions like, “Do you regret having kids, Mommy?” and the answer to that is a definitive honest “No, of course not,” … “but kids are crazy-expensive and incredibly stressful and sometimes I wish I could just spend a day sleeping late, drinking wine, and watching true crime shows without worrying about going to our 15th birthday party in a five-day span, OK?”
Of course both kids and pets add incredible richness to our lives and make it worth the hassle, but they both also require time, energy, patience … and lots of coffee.
Share your tales of child- or pet-related exhaustion (or, like me, BOTH) in the comments below because misery loves company.