With Mother’s Day approaching, retailers and businesses are showcasing their best offerings to celebrate moms everywhere and I find myself reflecting on my role as a mom over the past 20 years. I am a serious dog lover, and I am the biggest fan to the greatest gift I have ever received, Abby.
I have always felt blessed and grateful to be a mom AND and a Dog Mom. My daughter and the dogs I have raised have brought me tremendous joy and pride. They have all played a significant role in shaping who I am as a woman today. Both have taught me many things including patience, empathy, and the meaning of unconditional love. Over the past 20 years, two specific lessons stand out as the most impactful. These lessons shaped the way I parented and changed the way I looked at life and the world around me.
My daughter, now 19, made a statement at age 6 that was so profound it shifted how I would approach my role as her mother. I was fortunate to be able to stay home with Abby after she was born. During those formative years, I relished every waking moment playing with her, teaching her, taking her places, and creating activities and “playdate” opportunities for her and her friends. She had something different to do everyday … and I loved it! What I did not realize, was that I was the one having more fun until, one day, she told me so. She told me she did not like doing all these things with friends everyday. She shared what she liked and did not like and expressed her need to have more quiet time and less activity with friends on a daily basis. In that moment, I realized that she was her own little person with her own feelings, ideas, and needs … and these needs were very different from my own. How obvious you might say, “of course she is her own person”, but people often do what they like to do and that was the energy I created in our home. Because I am an energetic extrovert, every minute was filled with something to do, places to go, and people to connect with. I won’t go into detail on how I shifted, but suffice it say I did, and Abby blossomed as a result.
The other night, I had dinner at the restaurant where she is currently working for the summer. Upon leaving,the owner said to me, “Thank you for raising such a nice daughter. Thank you for raising her to be such a good worker. She is wonderful and we are so glad she can work for us.” I continued to watch her as she engaged with customers and it warmed my heart and made me smile. In that very moment, I suddenly felt I had done my job as a mom. It was evident that I had helped her (along with my husband) to grow into a responsible young adult who had manners, who was respectful and kind, and who was confident and capable.
My dogs, who I also consider my “kids”, have changed me as well. I know all of you dog lovers out there feel the same about your own pups. There is something so uniquely different about these creatures. Could it be that they are the only ones with whom we share our deepest, most personal thoughts and fears? We know there is no judgement. They keep us moving and improve our health just by being present. For some, they are the reason to get up each day. For others, they are the partners in daily adventures, reminding them to slow down and live in the moment. And still for others they are the link to a better state of well -being through service and therapy.
There is a reason why we embrace the relationship with have with our dogs today more than ever before. At a time when technology has us constantly connected to everything, we have become more disconnected from each other. As humans, we crave connectivity. Our dogs are the only creatures who provide us with unconditional love and offer their full attention when we need it most. As a dog mom, I am thankful for the wisdom guiding me to look at the world through their eyes. In my pursuit to become the best version of myself, I strive to find and apply the daily anecdotal lessons offered up by my dogs on a daily basis.
As I look back at my role as a mom this Mother’s Day, I have come to define it through an acronym, “Maker Of Memories”. That’s my job, create lasting memories through interaction, communication, experiences, and lessons exchanged between me and my daughter and me and my dogs. My job was to raise a well-mannered, well-adjusted, productive, and kind daughter. My job was to raise behaviorally sound, well-mannered dogs that we could enjoy both in and out of the home.
I am smiling now because, as I look at Abby, BOLO, and Henry, and think about Zoe and Sasha (the two pups who have crossed over rainbow bridge), I know in my heart I did my job well. I am not perfect, but I feel great about the contributions I have made in Abby’s life and in the lives of my dogs. I will continue to grow as a mom and look forward to being the rock of support, encouragement, and love to all in my care.
Happy Mother’s Day….may it be another day of creating lasting memories!