Finding comfort when living with chronic illness is imperative. Like it is important to get cozy in your favorite chair, feeling comfort in your soul will put you at ease during uncertain times.
Not only do I live with multiple chronic conditions, I also have debilitating anxiety. I have many coping skills that allow me to go to work, be with my peers and appear to be a normally functioning adult. However, about a year ago, my anxiety began to spiral out of control. So much so that I brought it up to my primary care physician. He wrote me a prescription … it wasn’t for Valium or some other anti-anxiety medication. It was for a dog! Yes, you read that right. He told me I should get a dog. And he was serious.
The following day I sat down with my husband, who just so happens to be allergic, and told him about my doctor’s orders. He didn’t say no (which I was surprised about) but asked me to research hypoallergenic options. Within a few weeks time we had decided to “pull the trigger” and went to pick out this sweet boy!
Not only has our little Zoro helped me with my anxiety, he’s helped me fill a void in a way I didn’t expect him to.
As you know, I struggle with infertility due to my Endometriosis, PCOS, and Adenomyosis. Not being able to conceive has been a heartbreaking experience. While I am a stepmother, I did not have the opportunity to raise my stepson as a young child. He does live with us full time and has for years; however, I didn’t get to experience him as a baby, toddler and young child.
A couple days into having Zoro, my husband referred to me as “mom” to Zoro. I can’t tell you how good that felt in my heart. While I fulfill a mother’s role with my stepson, I’ve never been called “mom”. I didn’t know how much I longed to be called that until I heard it.
Lately I’ve seen some memes circulating making fun of people who compare being a parent with being a pet parent. Trust me, I know it is not the same thing. Not even close. But he is my baby! I care for him every day and he depends on me. He loves me unconditionally. He brings me comfort, laughter and joy. And what’s more, he may be the closest thing to a “baby” I may ever have and that’s my reality, as it is for many other women.
If a woman finds comfort and joy in referring to her pet as her “child”, how does that adversely affect actual parents? Does it make them feel diminished or are they just being mean-spirited? Or, quite possibly and most logically, they probably find it humorous that someone would compare pet parenting to the experience of someone with a human baby. Either way, sometimes I feel like the old adage is true, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
It is important to note that I have the utmost respect for parents, especially mommas! The sacrifices you make, the innumerable ways your lives have changed, all the ways you give to your babies day in and day out is amazing. Trust me, the fact that people compare parenting and pet parenting is not lost on me. However, it shouldn’t be lost on moms that some of us will never have the opportunity to know the difference like you do. As such, keeping your thoughts to yourself may be the kindest and mom-like thing you could do.
As I stare into the abyss of my somewhat inevitable void, having my little fur baby by my side makes it easier. I know it’s not the same as being a “real mom”, trust me – I know this in the very depths of my soul, but he gives me comfort and joy in a way that is very meaningful for me. When Pat says to Zoro, “go ask mom!” and he runs over to me and looks at me with those sweet puppy eyes, for a moment I feel fulfilled, normal, and yes, I feel maternal. It makes the void feel a little less scary and all-consuming.
So yes, I’m a dog mom AF! And I’m not ashamed of that. I’m proud of it. He is my little bundle of fur and love and he’s gotten me through some of my darkest of times. Zoro is my child in his own way and I’m glad to be his momma.
At the end of the day, I hope you all find comfort in the midst of your own voids. Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are and what makes you feel well in your soul. Whatever that is, do that without abandon and be authentically you!