Imagine this, you’re sitting on the couch and all of a sudden your 2-year-old comes over and puts his sticky hands all over your face, tugs on your ear and even tries picking your nose. How do you react?
Although I’d try to keep my cool, I’m starting to get a bit irritated as his sticky hand gets tangled in my hair. As much as I love this little boy, sometimes I wish I had the patience of my dog when it comes to the poking and prodding received from my toddler. Yes, you read that right.
I am jealous of my dog’s patience.
Roxy is a 6, almost 7-year-old Mastiff mix. She’s very protective of everyone in our house, even our yippie little dachshund mix. We adopted her from the SPCA in Sharonville, so we had little background on her behavior. We knew from the start that she was gentle with adults, liked belly rubs, got along with our small dog (Zoe) and LOVES naps.
We also knew she, too, was a mom. Let’s just say it was awkward to give her belly rubs because she clearly had recently been a milk machine to several puppies! Despite her large size and intimidating appearance, she is the most laid-back, docile, loving and patient living being I’ve ever met – especially with my son.
When I got pregnant with our son, we worried how the dogs would react to him. We joked that Roxy would probably act as a built-in “babysitter” due to missing her puppies and having raised young ones before. She was a veteran when it came to the whole being a mom thing!
Once he arrived, those jokes we made became a reality. She would lay on the floor next to his bouncy chair, walk next to the stroller and always be nearby when people would hold him or play. Don’t be fooled though, she was nowhere to be seen during those 3 a.m. feedings.
Watching my son grow up with her as his BFF has taught me a few things about how to be a better parent:
Patience is Key
Being patient with children as they learn, grow and explore is so important. They are figuring out the world around them and deserve patience from you as they try to make sense of it all. As my little guy explores, he often does goofy things like sticking his fingers in Roxy’s nose or ear. She doesn’t flinch, she doesn’t groan. She lets him figure it out for himself that it’s kinda gross and not a good idea.
Nap When They Nap
Seriously y’all. Whenever the baby slept, Roxy slept. When he woke up, she woke up. She’d always be ready to go, waiting at the gate or at the pack ‘n play just staring in looking like she wanted to help. Sometimes she seemed more ready and willing than I was to be on baby duty. I truly think it’s because she took time to rest. Instead, I did dishes, laundry or scrolled on my Facebook. She taught me that with baby number two, I need to give myself grace and let myself sleep more.
Be Present, Not Perfect
This is one I struggle with, but I think a lot of moms feel the same. Sometimes, I catch myself looking at my phone, turning on the TV or escaping to a different room for just a glimpse of alone time. Other times, I feel myself longing to hold on to the little moments just a little longer. Observing Roxy with my son has made me become more present. Not just because she’s a 115-pound Mastiff running circles in the yard with our 2-year-old, but because she’s always in tune with where he is and what he is doing. Even if my fiance chases him through the yard, Roxy is right next to our son, making sure he doesn’t fall. She never misses a moment, she’s never distracted, and I try my best to imitate that behavior.
Their relationship is something I know will come to an end all too soon, and I’m not sure he will be old enough to understand when that time comes. But for right now, I’m happy to watch from the back patio as they romp and roll in the yard, snuggle on the Paw Patrol couch and share snacks (and meals) when they think I’m not looking. She’s not only a great pet and good pal to my son, she’s also a continent reminder of how to be an awesome parent!