To the Family Dog, after Baby
To my beloved dog,
I know this may seem silly since you'll never read this. Even if I recite it to you, you'll look up at me expectantly, loyally - like you always do when I confide in you - but not really comprehending the gravity of what I'm saying. But, hear me out because writing this letter to you is cathartic for me.
By now, you're well aware that you're not the only baby in the house. You're so gentle with your baby brother, but I know it hasn't been an easy transition for you. Knowing that makes my heart ache.
You see, you've never been "just a dog." There's a reason I, like many other dog people I know, refer to you and treat you like my child, because it's true. A few months before getting engaged, your dad and I brought you home. You were the sweetest little ball of fluff and my heart grew immediately, making room for you. Ever since, I've felt an overwhelming urge to take care of you. Your dad and I always knew that marriage was in the cards for us, but you brought us so much closer together. Because of you, we transitioned from a co-habitating couple to a threesome. Because of you, we became a family.
Two years later, your dad and I are now married and we've added your baby brother to the mix. For us, he's made life a whole lot busier and a whole lot more fun. For you, though, I know he can be a source of anxiety. He's loud and he takes up a lot of our time. He's just a baby, so his need are more imminent than yours. But I know you don't understand that.
When I was pregnant, people would tell me that my feelings for you would change once the baby was born. They said you might even be an annoyance. This made me angry then, and it still makes me angry now. Now that the baby is here and we've settled into a routine, I can confidently report that it's simply not the case. Heck, sometimes I'm even more fond of you because you sleep through the night, you're great at napping, and you rarely cry!
What is true, however, is that our attention is now divided, that our daily walks have dwindled to every other day, and that I don't let you play with your squeaky toys when the baby is sleeping. It's been a transition for everyone in our household, to say the least. But, the overwhelming urge to take care of you hasn't dissipated. The only thing I feel when I look at you is love. It's simply a different kind of love than I feel for my son. I promise to keep doing my very best to show you that you do, and always will, hold an important place in my heart, by cuddling you and showering you with attention as often as I can. You made us a family and you remain an important part of it.
Brittany Van Den Brink is a PhD Candidate and freelance writer living in small-town Ontario with her husband, baby son, and their Golden Retriever, Chevy. She founded Motherhood Her Way to collaborate with other moms as they go through the ups and downs of motherhood. Say hi on Instagram @brittanyvandenbrink.