Ugh, my dog wants to sleep on top of me in bed. Here’s the thing, I love that. It makes my morning. Well, it makes my morning stall out a little too. It makes me burrow down into my blankets. It makes my eyes roll back into sleep mode. It makes time disappear. It makes the next indulgence a little easier. It also makes Charlie, my dog, a bit of a baby. I mean the dude’s connected to me by an invisible umbilical cord at all times. If he could, he’d be carried in a sling across my chest like a nursing child. It’s very comforting in some ways. It’s so sweet. But he also barks while I’m gone. He freaks too much when people knock on the front door. He expects to follow me everywhere in the universe and is terrified if he must stay behind. In short, he’s a momma’s boy. Is that okay?
I used to know a very nice woman who had 8 million kids. She would breastfeed them. That was cool. It was great actually, a healthy choice for both her and her children. But the activity so comforted her, and the children grew so dependent on it, that she nursed them waaaaay past the point you are supposed to. Like, I couldn’t sit on the sofa while she nursed. Her daughter’s legs were too long and required the entire length of the furniture. Isn’t that okay?
We make a lot of “harmless” decisions about how we raise those who depend on us. Many of the weak decisions – ones that gratify us and them in the short term - are totally understandable. These decisions (and they are decisions) come from a tender place. I get it. I am that. But when we take on a nurturer role, we take on the responsibility of making hard calls, uncomfortable rules, distinct boundaries that will help them in the future be the person, or the dog, they can be. We do this because they can’t. We are there to love them, yes, but we’re also there to teach and protect them, to help build them. We are there, essentially, to bring them up. Sometimes that means saying no to them. Often it means saying no to us.