Do we use our children & family commitments as a shield? A handy cover-up when called to places we aren’t in the mood for - or perhaps to hide behind when socialising? What happens as they grow up and we aren’t needed so much? Step in the dogs...
This week I was chatting with a friend about our babies now being teenagers. They are busy with their own lives, they make their own dates and plans, involving us only when they need money, lifts or packed lunches - this is entirely natural so why does it leave us feeling so naked?
My children are now 14 and 11. They are busy, happy, annoying at times young people. They don’t need me to take them to the park anymore, they make pasta pesto themselves and apart from laying down and ensuring a few boundaries, their growing independence leaves me with hours of peace & quiet.
Carl and I have rediscovered ourselves, we can go to the pub on a Friday night without the need for shelling out and organising babysitters, decide to spring up and head out to a Sunday morning car boot sale if we wish, enjoy time with mates and enjoy the fact that technology makes us gettable-at 24/7 if needed.
But what happens when all that freedom offers us a good ole look at ourselves - do we like what we see? Do we actually like and still hold connection with others that we’ve travelled with side by side with for years during harrid child-rearing?
What if the absence of those wriggly small human beings leaves us with with a friend that you don’t actually know that well?
I wonder if we use our children and commitments as a shield more than we realise?
Perhaps the mutual connection we had in our one long call-to-action of having children under 10 comes to an end. Over, gone and the person and or people you are in front of, holding only a latte this time, brings you to realise that, actually, you no longer know this person and the only thing holding you together is the past and not the future.
I guess this stands for marriages too.
Bring in the dog, a new baby, a new call to action, a new life which connects all parts of your family.
Having Barney means that I’m needed, daily, hourly. He loves me with a deep pure love and I am sure my ridiculous affection for him is nothing short of annoying for him at times. He is a dog and as such needs to be left alone at times, not pawed all over - I have to remind myself at times to restrict my affection, and give him space. He is a dog.
My daily dog walks with friends offer a special time of bonding, not only with Barney but with fellow humans. Fresh air meets the occasional coffee & breakfast. A daily download about work, or advice about a dripping tap - whatever means much to me on that day, I have a connection, a bond with others that I ask anything about anything to, very much like child-rearing only this time with canine charges.
If I didn’t have my dog, my life would feel undoubtedly feel emptier now, I know it would. My children don’t need me so much, my work and my dog does.
If your life has a growing shadow of loneliness, head out to your nearest dog shelter and meet a new friend to bring into your life that needs you.
The usual stuff applies here, only do it if you have time during your working week, the funds for the food and the space you can offer another life alongside your own. Another option might be to borrow one, walk a neighbours dog to begin with.
None of us know what sort of a character the dog we adopt has when we begin, but I bet you will do an amazing job of shaping your lives together.
Good luck and go forth, your local park and new friends await you.
Sam is a practicing artist of 25yrs with a deep love of dogs. Her drawings, paintings and prints are exhibited in galleries throughout the country. In 2017 she painted her dog Barney and clients began to ask for bespoke portraits of their own best friends. Since then, Sam has successfully painted many personalised commissions and sends her dog paintings all over the world.
She has a stand-alone testimonial page on Trustpilot and is proud to support charities & auctions too.
To talk about having your own dog painted or to give as a gift, email Sam on firstname.lastname@example.org today.