So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Remember the moment you laid eyes on your dog? This was likely before the thought of having children. You went to the breeder or pound in hopes of finding the next member of your family, you were eagerly awaiting that effortless connection between human and animal. And then it happened. The dopey eyes gazed up at you, the tongue licked you from chin to forehead and your heart all but leapt out of your chest at the love for this animal. Congratulations, you are now a mommy.

You walk through the door of your home, and you’re a bit nervous. “Will he like it here? I’ll do whatever it takes to make him comfortable.” Your puppy sniffs around, his ears flopping over his eyes and causing him to trip. He has a hard time walking on the hardwood floors and pees a little due to excitement. You chuckle at the sight of him. “Welcome home puppy. I love you.”

That first night is rough. Your puppy yelps, heck, he’s waking you up every 2 hours to go potty. By 3:00am, he’s in bed with you (I know, I know, you vowed to NOT let your dog sleep with you). Have you ever loved something so much? He goes everywhere with you. To the park, long walks, Home Depot, your office. You two are attached at the hip. You rush home from happy hour to spend time with him and tend to his needs, because you’re a good mommy.

Let’s fast forward two years. You are rushing to the hospital to welcome your first, real, human baby. Your baby’s sleepy eyes gaze up at you. She yawns and your heart shatters with the ultimate love for this little person. Congratulations, you are now a mommy.

You walk through the door of your home and sigh with relief. We are finally here. Hey, Mommy, no not mommy to baby, but mommy to dog. Go pet your dog. Love on him. Kiss him. He missed you while you were gone. Introduce him to the baby, let them smell each other, look at each other, get used to one another. Invite him to be a part of this fascinating experience.

That first night at home with baby is rough, really rough. She’s waking every hour, needing to be changed, needing to be fed. You settle down to feed her and glance at the foot of your bed. There he is, your loyal dog. Wanting nothing more than to be there for you, to offer you company. Petting him and loving on him is so much better than scrolling on Facebook. Thank God for dogs and their inherent ability to know when we need them.

Are you ready to fast forward again two years? Now you have a toddler. Toddlers can be jerks. They hit, push, yell, scream, pitch fits and if you’re in the line of fire, it ain’t pretty.

In our home, hitting the dog is not allowed. Pushing the dog is not allowed. If you are running and playing, you need to step around the sleeping dog, not on top of him. Just because you, tiny toddler, are occupying this space, doesn’t mean the dog gets kicked outside. It doesn’t mean the dog takes a back seat. You two need to learn how to live together.

Our dogs do everything with us. The playgrounds we visit have trails for the dogs and the vacations we enjoy have to be dog friendly. If we are outside on our scooters and bikes, guess who’s with us? Our dogs.

What’s happened is a mutual respect between dog and child. When my two-year-old daughter wakes up in the morning, it’s not us she’s calling for, it’s her dog. It’s not us she hugs first, it’s her dog. Her love for animals is bigger than herself. We often joke that we are saving up to send her to Vet School. Would this have happened if we kicked our dogs to the curb the minute we brought Baby home? And who would have thought our dog would have a stronger connection with the two-year-old than with us? I’m so happy we gave them the opportunity to bond.

In return, our dogs are so wonderful with all children. We’ve taught them how to interact with kids. We’ve taught them how to have patience. They get super annoyed with toddlers, but instead of snapping, they just walk away. Would they know to do this if we wouldn’t have given them the opportunity to exist around our family?

I get it, meeting the needs of the dogs and kids is hard, and yes, sometimes the dogs take a backseat. But all too often, I hear of families loathing their dogs after having kids. Their overly loved, indoor dogs, have become outside animals with little attention and care from their owners. How incredibly sad.

I’m here to ask you, to encourage you to please care for your animals. Lead by example and show your children what it means to wholeheartedly love an animal. Show your animal what it means to wholeheartedly love all humans. My 4-year-old has one chore right now. That chore is to feed the dogs breakfast and dinner. He does it joyfully. I love my family and I truly believe that all 6 of us are incredibly happy to be a part of this club.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
– Josh Billings

Jackie Boeheim

Jacqueline Leigh holds a BA in Journalism from Valdosta State University. She’s successfully published articles in multiple lifestyle magazines and online publications. She is passionate about entertaining both parents and children through her writing. Jacqueline's first picture book, Time For Bed With Ford And Red, is set to release in June 2017. She makes her home in North Carolina with her husband and two spirited children. You can follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/authorjacquelineleigh/?ref=bookmarks

Dear Child, God Sees All of You—And So Do I

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mom and young son painting together

Math has always come easily to him. Even from the beginning stages when we counted wooden blocks on the living room floor, the numbers just came to him. “How many blocks are there?” I asked him, pointing to the scattered row of blocks. I expected him to count them. He was only three or four years old. “Six,” he answered promptly. “Yes . . . but how did you know that?” I asked hesitantly. He had not taken the time necessary to have counted them. “Three and three are six,” he replied. And on it went. The math came easily,...

Keep Reading

Kids Crave Your Time, Not Fancy Things

In: Kids, Motherhood
Dad and daughter with basketball smiling

I have four kids, and like most parents, I’m doing my best to give them a happy childhood, but we’re not really an activity family. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good day trip to the local water park or a night out at the movies, but with several different ages and a tight budget, activities or outings are rare for us. Sometimes I end up feeling bad about it, like our kids are missing out, but then I take a deep breath and realize that some of the best moments come from the simplest of things. Lucky for...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergarten Graduate—Wherever Life Takes You, I’ll Always Be Your Safe Place To Land

In: Kids, Motherhood

I cried on your first day of kindergarten. Did you know that? I held it together through the getting ready and the goodbyes—but once I had waved one last time and was pulling out of the parking lot, the lump in my throat poured out as hot tears down my cheeks.  How could you be starting kindergarten? You, my precious firstborn baby. We had some growing pains as we adjusted to a new routine. The school days were so long. I spent my days missing you and you spent yours missing me. We were apart from each other more than...

Keep Reading

The Secret to Slowing Down Time Is to Notice the Moments You’re Living In

In: Kids, Motherhood

Dear current self, You’ve heard a lot of mothers admonish you to slow down and enjoy every moment with your children. They’ve warned you with phrases like “before you know it,”  “in the blink of an eye,” and other cliché’s that haven’t really hit you, but they will. Soon, they will. I am writing you now because I’ve seen you trying to wrap your mind around the how-to—as if holding time in your hand is a skill anyone has successfully mastered. I’ll save you the suspense. It can’t be done. It is inevitable. Your kids are going to grow up....

Keep Reading

You Don’t Have to Celebrate a Holiday Just Because It’s On the Calendar

In: Kids, Living

I switched on the computer, adjusted my chair, then quickly swiveled back around again toward my husband, “Are you sure? You don’t mind?” “Me?” he made a swift waving motion as if swatting a fly. “Psht. Yeah, I’m fine with it. You?” He lifted his head and locked our eyes a little more securely, “Are you sure?” “Yes,” I said firmly, without hesitation. “OK, good,” my man turned back to his phone, “Love you.” “Good,” I confirmed. A rush of relief swept through me as muscles I didn’t even know were tense suddenly relaxed. A bubbling surge of energy had...

Keep Reading

I’m Raising Wild Boys

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy and toddler smiling at each other, color photo

Yesterday my boys (two and eight) were playing outside in our cul-de-sac—running, yelling, tackling each other . . . all the normal stuff. One of the neighbor moms was out as well, looking on as her son joined the fray.  “I need to send him over to your house for a week or two,” she joked, “so he can get more in touch with his boyness.”  “No, you don’t want to do that. My boys are wild things,” I quickly replied. And I wasn’t joking. My sons are rough, tough, primal beings.  Moments before this conversation, my oldest was ramming...

Keep Reading

A Big Move Brings Big Emotions For Little Kids—Here’s How to Help Them Cope

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

It doesn’t matter how outgoing or funny or charismatic your kids might be, the possibility of uprooting their little lives and relocating to a new city is terrifying for any parent. Add a global pandemic into the mix, and it’s an idea that feels almost insurmountable.  But when my husband got a job offer we couldn’t refuse, we packed up the car and drove our two kids (eight and four) west from Pennsylvania to the great state of Arizona. The decision weighed heavily on me, and I wasn’t prepared for the avalanche of mom guilt that followed. But as I’ve...

Keep Reading

My Kids May Never Be Professional Athletes, But They’ll Be Strong, Confident Adults Because of Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tween boy playing hockey, color photo

I have pivoted 180 degrees over the last few years on one major bone of contention in our household of four, which includes two sporty kids who love ice hockey and baseball: the rationale behind our, in my opinion, excessive expenditure of resources on our sons’ youth sports careers, and whether this makes any sense.  Neither of them is NHL or MLB bound. Or at least the chances, statistically, are extremely minuscule. And yet, we have directed an inordinate amount of our life savings as well as our precious time to not only club sports, but also private lessons, to...

Keep Reading

Food Allergies Won’t Stop Her—How My Daughter Is Teaching Me to Be Brave

In: Kids, Motherhood

Dear daughter, I know sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever do normal things without me hovering over you. Double and triple-checking your snack labels and drilling you about whether your allergy meds are packed and ready. It’s a lot for you to carry, physically and emotionally. But you’re so strong, sweet girl. Flexible, too. You can do this because you were built for it. And someday, someday, you’ll see it: that this story is yours because you carry it with grace. You don’t complain much, and when you do, you follow it up with a wise comment, saying this sort...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Is an Endless Pursuit

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child on bike, color photo

I look at him and my heart breaks into a million little pieces. It simply hurts too much to know he hurts. He is my heart, and it squeezes and revolts when he struggles. I want to close my eyes and hold him close, and when I resurface, I want the world to be different for him. Look different, smell different, taste different. But, it remains the same, this pain.   In the beginning, when he was in my womb, I held my hands on my stomach and his tiny feet kicked me back. His bodily imprint on my skin. He...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections