I think I understand why couples who want a baby jokingly-but-not-really say that they’re going to get a puppy first and see how that goes. The idea being, if you can handle raising a puppy and being responsible for its well-being and care and general “not dyingness” then you have a better idea of what you’re in for as opposed to caring for a bag of rocks or something.
But we all know that there are people who are fabulous parents and terrible dog owners and people who are terrible parents but fabulous dog owners (hopefully you don’t know too many of those) and raising a puppy doesn’t mean you can raise a kid.
So I’m going to propose something. Instead of testing your parenthood on a pet, take in a stray teenager instead.
Because I think that what a lot of couples forget when they say “We want a baby” is that they’re also saying, “We want a toddler” and “We want a teenager” and “We want a 30-year-old.” And beyond. Babies grow up! No, for serious! They do! It happens really slowly, you can’t look directly at them while they do it; if you try to watch them grow up, it doesn’t really work – you have to turn your head for a few days and then turn it back quickly, and boom, you’ve got a 6-year-old staring back at you who wants a snack even though dinner is in 40 minutes but they don’t care because time is a concept they don’t understand.
Borrow a teenager. You can find them in lots of places. Go into a Starbucks at 3:30 PM on a weekday. There are loads of them there. Or be more practical about it and ask a relative or friend if their teen wants to stay with you for a weekend. Explain that you want to have children and while you could get a puppy to simulate the baby experience of what it’s like to have to deal with a small living creature that does absolutely nothing for you but demands you do everything for it when it can’t even do anything awesome like make you a drink or talk about who is better in Dylan Vs. Cohen, what you really want is to experience what it’s like further down the road, because you realize that having children is for life.
If your friend says, “Yes, but that’s not for 13 more years!”, you say, “Are you insinuating that my husband/wife and I won’t be together in 13 years and that we may as well just forget it and pretend like that’s not on our radar? Because let me tell you something, the moment that one of us is pregnant is the moment we open up a college fund for our child’s future education because education is expensive and we need all the time we can get to save up because oh my God why don’t people understand that this little blob of flesh and beating heart is going to have to get an education one day because it is going to turn into a person?”
Puppy or baby, whatever living thing you get, please be responsible and make sure you have enough money, time, and love to give it for the rest of its life and yours. If you can’t, get a blog. Blogs are cool. And you can do anything with a blog. A blog can be anything you want it to be. If you want to make a blog based on cocktails you invent named after Nicolas Cage movies, you can do that. And no one will stop you.
Images via Shutterstock, LIFE photo archive, and Know Your Meme.