I AM a Dog Mom
I identify as a dog mom, and that is a title I wear proudly. On Facebook, Chewie is listed as my son--which has led me to see a lot of baby and parenting-related ads (haha). However, I've seen a lot of articles recently telling me that I shouldn't call myself a dog mom, because that somehow undermines the work real moms do.
I never realized calling myself a dog mom was so offensive; my mom, who raised two human children as well as five dogs, calls herself a dog mom, too, and has never seen anything wrong with that. She's always referred to herself as "mommy" around the dogs, and she's always called them her fur babies--or even just her babies. In fact, my parents (who, keep in mind, also raised human children) are constantly calling themselves Chewie's grandma and grandpa (or sometimes grand-paw) and have decked their car out with "ask me about my grand-dog" bumper stickers. In my family, dogs have never been inferior to people in any way.
So today, I'm going to refute three articles I've found online, written by moms who think I don't deserve to call myself a mom as well. They all make some good points, but I think they have a fundamental misunderstanding of how some dog parents (I won't say "owners" and I'll explain why later) think.
The articles I'll be refuting:
"No, Your Dog is Not Your 'Baby'--Saying That is an Insult to Moms" by Elizabeth Broadbent
"Dear Pet Moms, You Are Not a Mom" by BLUNTMoms
No, I Didn't Give Birth to Chewie (But Why Do You Care?)
Here is what the beginning of Elizabeth Broadbent's article has to say about human parents vs. dog parents:
Gatekeeping of the "Mom" Identity
If there's one thing I can't stand, it's gatekeepers: people who try to say, "You can't be a REAL x unless you do y." These people take the fun out of everything, by giving every identity a million qualifiers.
And yes, in this case, I AM going to pull out the sexism card. In Broadbent's article, she mentions how she has to constantly keep an eye on her kids to keep them safe. Great. I'm glad you watch your kids. But you do realize that not ALL moms can watch their kids 24/7, right? That a lot of moms have demanding careers? That the majority of moms are not watching their kids between the hours of 9 and 5? Even when the kids are too young for school, many kids are watched by babysitters or day-care centers. Or, sometimes, by a stay-at-home dad, or a grandparent. When I was in preschool through second grade, my mom was a single parent working four jobs, so my grandma spent a lot of time watching me instead. Does that make her less of a mom? (And yes, we also had a dog. And she was his mom, too.)
Broadbent's article says something that, in a moment, I will explain why is sexist and upsetting to me:
You're stuck with your dog ... except you're not because you can leave. Before my and I had kids, we traveled all the time — dropped the pups by the doggie spa, paid extra for playground time, and hopped the plane guilt-free.
Has she never heard of day-care centers? Or babysitters? Doesn't she know that there are plenty of moms out there who have to travel for business, and have to leave their babies or toddlers as well? Are women with careers that require frequent travel not as much of a "mom" as she is?
Also, I cannot just "plunk my credit card down at the kennel." Part of Chewie's aforementioned anxiety issues include the fact that he panics around other dogs. Tyler and I have been working with him for over a year, slowly chipping away at this issue, but he's not ready to spend significant amounts of time in other dogs' presence. Because Chewie has his own baggage, if Tyler and I ever leave for a week (which we almost never do), we take the time to find a specific sitter who can work with Chewie and his needs. We found an awesome sitter who helped us out a lot with him at our wedding.
And for the record, since the BLUNTMoms article mentions this, I do not treat Chewie like a human to the extent of ignoring his animal needs. I don't put him in a stroller or make him wear hats. (Okay, he's worn a Santa hat ONCE in his life, and didn't particularly like it, so he's never had to again.) I do read him The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, because he genuinely loves it, and falls asleep on my lap while I read to him. And then the next morning, he gets excited for all the new toys Santa has left him (and yes, I know that Chewie doesn't understand the concept of Santa--I'm not that delusional).
Anyway, my whole point with this post is that we shouldn't be defining what it does and doesn't mean to be a mom. The experience is different for everyone, and getting insulted because someone loves their dog the way you love your child is unproductive. There isn't a limited amount of love in the world, or a limited number of people who are allowed to be "moms." Let's just all celebrate the fact that we do something amazing--we care for someone else, and we give them a great life.