I never wanted kids but having dogs woke up a motherly, protective instinct I wondered about—as in “would I be a good mother?”
Answer: Yep, I am a pretty damned good mom. In fact, better than average for sure.
I recall being in the hospital to have my uterus removed back at the turn of the millennium. Hospital beds were pretty full due at the time, so the only spot for me was on the maternity ward. Some friends were horrified for me, but I took it in stride. It didn’t bother me to see women pacing in labor. I was there to have my wretched pain go away. Besides, my then partner, now wife, snuck our Cocker Spaniel into the hospital in a baby blanket to see me. Squee.
Life is pretty damn good for me from a childless perspective.
Being childless is a choice and has zero to do with my sexuality. I live with, share life with, love, and am legally married to a woman since 2014. You see, I met and fell in love with my now-wife in 1992 but the law would not allow me to marry her legally until 2014.
Some lesbian couples have children by choice: they have that calling, it is a yearning deep within and they want/desire kids for a variety of reasons. The Bryants never had that calling.
And then came Brandy. And now there’s Dexter.
I feel like a mom to our dogs. I am not alone in these sentiments. Darlene feels like a mom to our dogs, too.
Even though we consider ourselves dog moms, we know that dogs are not children. If the fates honor me with my dog-sharing life for a solid 15 years or more, unlike a teenager at age 15, my dog isn’t asking for the car keys, won’t enter the dating world, and will never become a source of gray hair as I worry because he is out 10 minutes past curfew. His time is getting limited, at this ripe old age.
The lifespan of a dog is short — a flicker, if you will, compared with a human’s. He will pass from this world and leave behind a hole in my heart where it used to be, well, “whole.” I’ve been down this road, and I will again and again. How about you?
I live a bit more vicariously and in the moment since becoming a dog mom: And after all, aren’t dogs always living in the moment? They’ve taught me well, these creatures kids called dogs. I’ve yet to see my dog worry about what just happened, or panic at something that’s going down tomorrow. Dogs have taught me to live life to its fullest because at any time, it can end.
Dogs live short lives; we know this when we accept the responsibility of dog parenting.
There are two issues that tend to make this dog mom’s blood boil when it comes to dog parenting and loving my spouse and those are:
- People who don’t like the term dog parenting. Solution: Don’t call yourself a dog parent.
- People who don’t agree with same-sex marriage. Solution: Don’t marry someone of the same sex.
A few years ago, someone commented on this blog, saying, “Maybe I am just an old grumpy hag but I love dogs for who they are: descendants of the wolves with incredible characteristics that go back to the beginning of time,” Grumpy Old Hag wrote. “Anthropomorphizing dogs does not honor them with the respect and adoration they deserve.”
Humanizing our pets has taken a stronghold on this country; in fact, some might argue that “dogs are the new kids” is becoming a worldwide trend. Dogs are very child-like and remain that way for life; they are not humans and I am sure the majority of pet parents would agree on this.
So if Grumpy Old Hag is reading this—and for all the naysayers who sneer at the notion of dogs as kids—love is not limited to one species. I do ascribe human attributes to my dog and I always will. I know, however, he is not a human, but is a kid and oh so much more.
I spoil my dog and will continue to advocate others do the same. He certainly does not need eight leashes, four water bowls, a weekly trip (or more) to the pet supply store, organized play dates, a blog inspired by his life with mine and a canine-centric career choice. Dogs, however, complete me, in a complete uninhibited, selfless, loving way that does not mirror any notion akin to wolves. Treating my dog as a kid makes me happy, plain and simple. I am sure my kid would be happy with an old blanket and ratty tennis ball as a play toy.
Here Come the Brides
It was with great pleasure that our dog was able to attend my surprise “wedding” in 2014 when my spouse swept me off my feet and romanced me from the skies and to the core of my soul.
If you missed it, a surprise proposal took place, which you can read about here.
Fast forward to present day and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of same-sex marriages in states like Ohio and a few others that ban them. Most trusted resources expect the Supreme Court to side with same-sex couples at some point this summer. This means same-sex marriage would finally be legalized throughout the United States.
I wonder, though, what does this mean if it does not happen? My love won’t change. Who God made me won’t change. Being in love with a woman won’t change. Loving and parenting our dog won’t change.
Family is family. The definition of family has evolved but I will agree with those who want to preserve the sanctity of it: A family need not be related, though. According to Merriam Webster, a family is defined as, “any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family.”
And what is traditional? Is a single parent family traditional? Is a straight couple without children considered traditional? What about two vertically challenged people who adopted children from overseas: Are they traditional?
A family is a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation: And that affiliation is love. Family should also be rooted in consenting adults doing what is best for their own unique microcosm of life. Same-sex couples should be allowed that legal piece of paper proclaiming their marriage and there are countless reasons why, as I detail here.
One Nation Under God
As of this writing, same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states. By the end of this Supreme Court term, either same-sex couples will be able to wed in all 50 states…and this is the goal and hope…or same-sex marriage bans might be reinstituted in most of the states where they’ve previously been struck down.
Want to hear something really cool? According to NPR.org, in 1996, public opinion polls showed, on average, only 27 percent of the public favored legalization of same sex marriage. This year, public opinion polls put the approval number nationally at well over 50 percent.
We are making progress. Consider that fifty years ago, every state in this country criminalized homosexual sex, and even the American Civil Liberties Union did not object. One of the best articles I ever read that details how the shift occurred where in 2015 my rights may become a reality protected under the law can be found here.
It matters to have the Supreme Court allow same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states. I never thought I would live long enough to see the day. My spouse has had hope for much longer, reminding me on occasion that “it’s happening, Carol, just wait and see.”
I watched, I waited, and the time is now. I cannot wait for the day when America will join the ranks of the other civilized nations in granting full recognition to same-sex couples.
For now, I am off to walk my dog, kiss my spouse goodnight, and pray that Love Must Win. It always does.
I am sharing this post with my friend, Ryan Jordan, of Bones & Fishes blog. Please read his dog dad perspective on things. Oh, and Ryan happens to be a gay man, which is just one part of who he is.