Being almost thirty years old means most of my southern friends are married and working on their second or third child. Play dates at the park, mother-daughter shopping sprees, little league baseball games, and homework is all a part of their daily lives. My motherly instinct hasn't exactly kicked in; however, my own mother says my maternal clock will start ticking soon enough. Perhaps my clock is broken because I can't think of a time it was ever ticking or tocking. I was never the neighborhood babysitter, newborns frighten me, and there is a definite awkwardness when trying to communicate with a child. Based on my age, marital status, and being a resident of the south means I never manage to escape the dreaded question "when are you having children?" From family, friends,co-workers, the mailman---you name it and they have asked. With my vague answer, the conversation usually ends up with a side eye which I suppose is understandable. The reason for my lack of wanting a child is unknown to me. I can only speculate that it's because I'm completely happy with our life the way it is, raising a child is a huge commitment, there is no pressure from the other half in this marriage, and parenthood would change everything.
With all that said, what has surprisingly escalated is an unconditional, motherly affection for our dog, Salvador. Obviously he's not a child but it's a baby step for now. We can leave him at home alone while running errands or going to dinner, a treat works like magic, and he won't be asking for a car in sixteen years. If someone would have told me a couple of years ago that we would have an indoor puppy that sheds fierce fur I would have laughed hysterically. Times have changed and Salvador is an equal part of our family. I've caught myself throwing him birthday parties complete with gifts and a trip to the bakery for a special biscuit. Most weekends we find ourselves attending dog-friendly events in Chattanooga and dining on a chilly back porch just so Salvador can tag along. As crazy as it sounds, we even enrolled him in doggie day care four days out of the week because we both work long hours and the thought of him being alone all day is heartbreaking. Taking care of a pet has taught me to be patient, understanding, and responsible. Some days this dog allows me to envision a different side of myself and how raising a child would be extremely rewarding and other days, he's the best form of birth control on the market. I can't predict the future and only time will tell if Salvador will be an older brother. For now we remain content as a uniquely southern trio.