Puppy Love

18 09 2009

In the ACOA meeting on Monday, the “leader” or whatever made a very intriguing comment that really hit home with me since I have three dogs. He said, “If you want to know how your childhood affects how you care for people, just look at how you treat your pets. He didn’t tell us how, but just let us think on that. WOW. I am a crappy dog mother. I am so glad that I don’t have kids yet to mess up. I am constantly either smothering them with love, or pushing them away or ignoring them. Of course, when I’m on one of my depressive binges, I hold one or all of them close to me while they lick the tears from my face and use them to comfort me. I know, I know, they are just dogs. But, what if they weren’t? What if they were my children.

One of my first memories is of my mom grasping me close and sobbing while we waited for my dad to come home. We sat on the windowseat of our little white house, I on her lap and wiped the tears off of her face. I must’ve been like three or something. I remember wondering why I wasn’t enough for her. This was the thought my whole damn life, why aren’t I enough to make my mother happy? Why is the house always a mess, and there never any food? I just wanted her to be an adult, to love us, to make a home. Of course I didn’t know this. In my childhood brain, it was always just, I guess I am not enough to make my mom happy. Dad makes my mom sad. She only stays with dad for us. Therefore, I must be why my mom is unhappy. If I had never been born, she would’ve been happy. Why was I born?

I know that if I were to have children right now, at the age of 28, my depression and anxiety would manifest itself in my kids. Sometimes I will turn to my wonderful husband and ask, “Does Lola look depressed?” At first he would laugh, like the thought of a depressed dog was funny. But now, as I have fallen deeper and deeper into my pit. He’ll warily say, “Don’t project, our dogs are not depressed. They are dogs. They are happy to be petted and fed and sleep.” Interesting. Don’t project. That’s pretty insightful I think for a guy who doesn’t really know about this stuff.

My list of wrongdoings towards my dogs includes:
1) Not taking the time to train them, then expecting them to know how to behave.
2) Only disciplining them in public, so it doesn’t look like I am the bad dog-parent, but being too drained to consistently discipline them when we are alone.
3) Not taking time for walking them, then getting mad if they try to run away when I open the door.
4) Pushing them away when I don’t have time for them, which is often, then not taking time to give them my full undivided attention.
5) Forgetting to feed them sometimes, not having the energy to feed them other times.
6) Not picking up the dog shit in the backyard.
7) Not brushing them or giving them their meds as needed.
8) Sometimes being overly clingy or needy and expecting them to comfort me.
9) Taking them to the vet and acting like THE PERFECT dog-mother, asking lots of questions and being generally overprotective, and throwing money at the situation, they are on the best vet plan, best dog shampoo, best food, etc.

If this were a child, I would definitely be an unfit mother, one who consistently ignored, didn’t discipline and berated her children, then acted like the perfect supermom in public. This scares the shit out of me. How am I ever going to be a good mom, when I am turning into my own mother? If this were a child I would definitely call CPS, the children are running around in their own shit, nobody is feeding them, it’s squalor and they are being emotionally abused. But they are dogs. I take them to the vet, I feed them almost every day and they aren’t chained or beaten. They are in good health, always in good tail-wagging spirits, and very very sweet. They won’t grow up to be drug addicts or have abandonment issues or end up pregnant out of wedlock or in jail. But I have to get my act together if I am ever going to have real babies.

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