April 19, 2015

Mother’s Guilt

Posted in: Dog


Before Thomas came to town people would say, ‘Wait until you have a child, then you’ll realise Toby is just a dog.’

I never appreciated those comments.

What does that even mean? ‘Just a dog.’

If by ‘just a dog’ they mean I will realise that Toby is the same four legged Furball who is loyal, kind, sweet and a life long member of our family, then yes, Toby is just a dog.

My love and appreciation for Toby did not diminish when Thomas came into our lives nor will it ever.

In those first few weeks when we were adjusting to life with a newborn (those weeks are difficult!), it was Toby that was constantly by my side, and I was so glad that he was.

I would leave Thomas at home with Andrew and Toby and I would spend mornings walking along the beach, grabbing a coffee and sitting on the grass overlooking the ocean and people watch. These outings recharged my sleep deprived body and mind.

I loved Toby’s company in those first few weeks. He would always get out of bed with me in the middle of the night when I had to feed Thomas. He would sit next to me and keep me company while I nursed his baby brother. These days he doesn’t bother getting up with me and that makes me laugh, clearly he needs his sleep.

Now, half an hour before Thomas’ bath, we go into Thomas’ room and read books. Thomas will be lying on his back on his play mat and Toby will snuggle into my lap while I read to Thomas. Thomas’ eyes are always locked onto Toby, watching him with great fascination.

My heart pangs when I think about my two boys growing up, exploring the world together. How lucky is Thomas to have such an amazing furball to call his big brother.

So no, for me, having Thomas in my life has not made me realise that Toby is ‘just a dog.’

However, I am realising that I am suffering from Mother’s Guilt. I notice these feelings on a daily basis and it does make me sad.

I feel guilty that not 100% of my time is on Toby anymore. I know it’s impossible to have all my attention on him.

Sometimes I look at Toby and I feel as though he knows he isn’t getting as much attention as he used to but doesn’t really understand why. Or maybe he does understand that Thomas is making me have to share my time between two souls. It would be so nice if I could communicate with Toby and explain why changes have occurred.

When Toby was our only son, it was all about him. He was the only one getting cuddles, the only one we said, ‘Good boy!’ to and the only one we would fuss about. Now he isn’t getting as many cuddles. Most of the time when I come home I can’t greet him the way I used to because Thomas is in my arms. Toby isn’t getting walked twice a day and some times we have to leave him at home because it is too hard to take a dog and baby out.

During the day I am constantly thinking of how I can make sure Toby continues to feel loved.

Each morning Toby and I cuddle before getting out of bed. While I’m nursing Thomas, I give Toby an ear rub at the same time. I make it a priority that each morning starts with a 2 hour beach walk where it’s all about Toby. And during Thomas’ nap times, I’ll spend some time playing his favourite game, throwing Otis around or throwing Thomas’ bath toys down the hallway. When Thomas goes to bed for the night, usually Andrew and I will hang out on the couch with Toby wedged in between us and we will say to him, ‘Look, it’s just like the old days, Toby.’

Writing that all down sounds like Toby is a pretty lucky dog and he isn’t missing out on a happy life. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe Toby doesn’t notice that there is less attention on him. Maybe it’s the fact that I know I don’t have as much time for just him and I don’t think about him as much as I used to, that makes me feel guilty.

We love Toby, we love him dearly. He has brought us so much happiness and has taught us great life lessons in the short 3 years he has been part of our family. His antics continue to make us laugh and like we always say to him, he is such a good boy. There is no way that our love for him would  go out the window because we now also have a human son.

I would love to know if other people feel like this too. Or if it’s just me?