Before I was a mother to my baby, I was a dog mom. And not a passive kind of dog mom – a bumper sticker wielding, Westie coffee mug using, doggy daycare kind of dog mom.
We adopted our dog, Sawyer, right after my husband and I got our first apartment together. She was just a puppy at the time, and we trained her and raised her together. She was our “baby,” and in many ways, we made her the center of our world. She was undoubtedly a very spoiled pup, and she was used to getting lots of attention all the time.
All that changed the day we brought my daughter home from the hospital. Gone were the days of endless snuggles, dog park trips, and undivided attention. No longer was Sawyer the center of our world. This new creature – small, strange, and noisy – had come along and seemingly taken her place. I’m sure to Sawyer it felt as though we had forgotten all about her. Now our attention was divided, and Sawyer was getting the smallest little slice of that pie.
I noticed the change in our dog within a few days, and I felt so guilty. Our clingy pup, who previously followed us around the house constantly, now slunk off to the bedroom to nap by herself. She found dirt piles to roll in out in the yard. She snuck through a loose fence panel for a romp in the neighbor’s yard. She was so clearly acting out, begging for our attention, and it broke my heart. We tried to find little ways to give her special attention, but I knew that to Sawyer, it must have felt as if her whole world had been flipped upside down. I worried that things wouldn’t ever be the same again, and I was afraid that our dog would grow to resent my daughter for stealing away our attention. It was my first experience with mom guilt, and the feeling was so crushing!
It turns out, however, that those fears were unfounded. Now that my daughter is a little older and is crawling, playing, and active, Sawyer is more curious about her. Sawyer has always been protective of our daughter, but now she is intrigued by our daughter’s ability to interact with her. The baby will grab Sawyer’s collar and jingle her tags. She will stroke Sawyer’s fur, giggle at her, and crawl after her. I am beginning to see a friendship developing between them, and now that my daughter is eating (and dropping) solid foods, Sawyer has a whole new reason to love her! They still aren’t besties, and I know that won’t happen overnight. But I see the promise of a future where my baby and my fur baby will be friends, and I won’t have to feel as though two pieces of my heart are constantly battling one another.
All you mamas of more than one child, I can only imagine how you all must have felt when a new baby came along! Mom guilt is so real, and we all need to cut ourselves some slack! Did you experience mom guilt when a new baby came along? Share your experience in the comments below.