Can I just admit that I am quite sure I was a Sheepdog in a former life?! I have a strong herding instinct. Some might just chalk it up to having an extroverted personality, but I think there’s more to it. For me, it comes down to instinct.
I think it’s fascinating to think about animals and instincts and see God’s design in nature. Animals just do certain things, every year, without fail. We live in an area with an array of wildlife—deer, rabbits, foxes, birds, raccoons, and coyotes. For the past two years, we have observed in awe (and sometime horror) as nature plays out survival of the fittest for these animals.
A couple weeks after we moved in, we found a snake in the backyard, discovered we had three adorable baby bunnies, and watched in disbelief as a large bird (a hawk, maybe) swooped into our yard, picked up a baby bunny in its claws, and carried it away. Make that, two adorable baby bunnies!
One night we watched a family of raccoons prowl across the back portion of our backyard, barely lit by our outdoor lighting. There was a gigantic one, followed by increasingly smaller ones (4 total). They really do look like bandits at night, conspiring on their next jewel heist (or something).
Recently, a fox took up residence in our caul-de-sac (it backs to open space, which is probably the true source of our own little nature preserve). Soon, we started seeing two foxes. Curiously, I haven’t seen a baby bunny in our yard for about a year. And then, just a few days ago, two fluffy baby foxes were scampering around in our sandbox, followed by the watchful eye of a haggard-looking dad fox. No kidding - the mom and dad look like they might be one day away from packing it in for an easier life sans kids (I guess it happens to all of us)!
With all this animal watching, I can’t help but analyze my own family. I am clearly a dog, an Old English Sheepdog, to be precise. My 6-year-old son, Noah, is most definitely a dog too - probably a yellow lab. He’s cuddly, in-your-face, highly relational, and would probably lick you if you let him! My 6-year-old daughter, Mia, is a cat. I only know this because my mom is a cat! I first heard her sister describe her that way, and it fits perfectly. She is a perfectionist and really comfortable in her own bubble. She does not like getting around too much chaos and prefers to have control over her territory. She likes new people, but only one at a time. I am quite sure I drive my daughter (and my mom) crazy at times. I must be the dog they can’t wait to put out in the backyard until dinnertime!
I also have an almost three-year-old daughter, Emerson, and she is more dog-like as well. She and my son can be in terrible moods, but the moment you take them out into a public setting with other people, they perk right up! Funny, huh!? And lastly, my husband most certainly relates more closely with my cat-daughter, but he still has dog traits. It just makes me chuckle to think I’m a dog raising a cat!
Going back to my initial observation, I’m a herder in all aspects of my life, even those beyond my family, like finding a good fit for my social and directive tendencies. Mostly, this perspective of my life helps me keep things light. It is also gives me creative insight into how to parent my children and care for my family. But ultimately, it reminds me that not only is God in the details of all things, but that He also has a sense of humor and playfulness as the Creator.
Parenting can make us like the haggard fox parents … What provides light and levity? What kind of animals best describe you and your offspring?
As a UMC Pastor, Annie's heart is to see people find love and freedom in Christ. Currently she serves as the Pastor of Discipleship at St Andrew United Methodist Church. She and her husband, Eric, have three incredible (& busy) children: Noah (6), Mia (6), & Emerson (2). Annie is a dreamer, visionary, and connector of people. She loves traveling, exploring new eateries, Barre classes, and nights out with girlfriends.