Kids are not for every parent...
So, you think you want to have a baby? Read this first!
I knew at an early age that being a parent would be tough. Perhaps it was the uber-responsible side of me that calculated the amount of effort and expense it would take to raise a human being worthy of existing. I couldn't imagine bringing another being into my broke life. My hormones never kicked into gear either to push me in that direction. Somehow, I was either too broke, too busy, too single, too focused on other things, and never ready to be a mom. But I fully realized what it's like to be a parent, and how fortunate I was not to become one, when I got a dog.
A year and a half ago, I adopted a responsibility named Lulu. Yes, she's the joy of my life. Cuddling with her, bathing her, cooking her food, walking her, and playing with her takes a chunk of my life which I readily surrender in exchange for the happiness I get in return. "Hmm. That's what parents must feel when they look at their kids," I mused in my head once when showing off pictures of little Luly in a Christmas sweater and a hood. A proud mamma moment. Ha! That's when it hit me!
Everyone interested in having a child should first get a dog! If you can raise a dog right, you can probably do well raising an actual human. Here's why.
People get a dog in one of two ways, just like having a kid. Either they really want one and plan for it, or it just happens. You wake up the next day and realize you have to walk it, feed it, teach it where and how to go to the bathroom. It wakes you up at night scratching or whining. It's loud at times. It jumps around on the furniture. It chews on things. It plays in the dirt and brings the germs home. It wants to sleep in bed with you. It wants to play. You buy toys. You have to teach it boundaries, rules, and roles. It needs vaccination and annual exams.
A dog takes a lot of time, patience, and planning. You get a dog, you lose freedom. No more spontaneous road trips, nights out dancing, parties with friends. What will the dog do for hours and hours while you are at work? Who's dogsitting while you go on vacation? Can you afford the medication, grooming, treats, and toys? If your dog constantly misbehaves, you didn't teach it to do better.
If you already have a dog and now are thinking of having a kid, consider how your dog turned out to get an idea of how well you'll do with raising a child. It's no joke! If you can't get a dog to listen to you with treats in hand, what makes you think you have the patience for a child? Dogs thrive when there's consistency, attention, affection, and discipline. Guess what a kid needs? Yep. Consistency, attention, affection, and discipline. Not a tablet.
A dog like mine costs on average about $1500 per year. It includes vet visits, flea medication, grooming, toys, treats, and the occasional dog sitter. It would be more if she had a medical condition or I had to hire dog sitters more. A dog doesn't have to go to school. Does not need new clothes and shoes every year. No college fund. No medical insurance, no wearing classes. No sports equipment. You guessed it. I child costs A LOT more. The cost to raise a child from birth to age 17 is upwards of $230,000, according to USDA's 2017 report. That's about $14,000 per year. Urban kids cost more. Older kids cost more. And a kid usually lives for more than 17 years. College, weddings, mistakes, add to that cost.
I can leave my dog in the car for a couple of hours in a shady spot with the windows cracked open and she'll take a nap, play with her toys, and generally not care too much. Good luck living a 3-year old in the back seat for more than 10 min unattended. Good luck leaving your kids home all day without supervision, even if you do have a doggy door to the back yard.
Your dog will always want to go on a walk or ride in the car, excited. Your kids will likely want to stay home. Especially when they hit puberty. Then, they definitely do not want to be seen with you, because, let's face it, you're old school and so not cool. You don't ever have to worry about your dog falling into the wrong crowd, discovering drugs, getting STD's, or dropping out of school. You'll never let your teenager watch you nacked on the toilet, but your dog probably sits right by your feet.
My suggestion to everyone out there thinking that having a baby would be fun - get a dog. Remember, babies grow up to be snotty toddlers, unruly teenagers, and eventually adults with their own problems. If you are too lazy to bend over and pick up your dog's poop, you are not ready to change diapers several times a day. Train your parenting skills on a dog and you stand a chance of meeting the challenges and responsibilities of raising humans.
Also, consider adopting. We already have enough humans on the planet. Giving an existing life a chance to flourish is much nobler and appreciated than starting a new life, as every adopted dog will tell you. If you have love to give, give it to someone who needs it now.