I’ve noticed lately that I have been gravitating toward my dog more than my kids. I talk to him in a baby voice but yell at my kids, I share spoonfuls of yogurt with him but tell my kids they can’t have any, I cuddle up with him under the blanket but make my kids stay in their beds at night. At first, I thought what kind of monster am I? I must be an awful mother. But now that I am more conscious of my behavior, I understand why. So here is a list of why someone with fibromyalgia might be more tolerant of their dog than their kids.
- Kids are loud. One of the symptoms of fibro is sensitivity to sound. Sometimes a scream from a child will literally feel like an electric shock to my entire body. The sounds of their voices can literally be painful. My dog, on the other hand, is a pretty quiet guy aside from the occasional bark at a passing mailman.
- Kids do not understand the connection between their bodies and mine. No matter how many times I remind them, my kids continue to lay their heads on my shoulder and run at me full force for a big, hard hug. While I can never get enough of their affection, it hurts. And it gets real old reminding them to be gentle with my body 50 times a day. My dog, on the other hand, seems to know when I’m in pain and will lie against me or tenderly set his head on my stomach. His body heat does wonders for my achy joints, too. It’s like having a 75 lb. heating pad that never turns off.
- Kids don’t care about your time. By the time I put the kids down to bed, I have usually been going for 12-14 hours. I work full-time as a dog groomer which is incredibly physically demanding and stressful. My husband and I are also trying to start a home business. So come 9:00 after the bedtime stories are read and I’ve tucked them in, I’m clocked out. But the kids will get up another five times with some ridiculous excuse to stay up a little longer. It drives me insane, almost to the point of tears. I need at least an hour of “me time” before going to bed but I rarely get it. Then, of course, they have to wake me up first thing in the morning on my days off despite me having reminded them the night before not to do that. My dog, however, is lazy. He is content to spend all day and night laying on the couch and doesn’t require much attention. Just let him into the yard and he’s good for the rest of the night. He doesn’t wake me up in the morning to go outside, either. And when I tell him to go to bed, he actually listens and takes himself up the stairs.
- Kids are stressful. My kids are so demanding. They require attention 24/7. Sometimes it gets so overwhelming. My anxiety, fatigue and constant pain are stressful enough and I am always on edge as it is. Add some fighting children to the mix and it’s a perfect storm for me losing my temper. My dog, however, does whatever I want. He leaves me alone when I need it and cuddles up to me when I’m feeling bad. He’s low-maintenance and easy going and I often find just the act of petting him to be soothing. There have been many times I have broken down crying from stress or pain and my dog nudges me and lets me put my arms around him and sob for as long as I needed.
Being a mom with fibromyalgia is insanely difficult and we sacrifice a lot for the happiness of our children. I love my kids, they are my life, but I depend on my dog to balance out the craziness of parenthood and think of him as a child. At the end of the day, it feels good to know that at least one of my kids actually listens to me.