Photo: Denise Thuler/stockxchng

The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m a real bitch.

But that’s not the kind of dog I’m talking about. Even though I’m sure, it is sometimes true. As well as that, I can be a real dog; just look at me every morning before makeup. Scary.

In this case, I’m talking about the strange transformation from breed to breed I’ve undergone during my stages of motherhood. My wife has somehow remained human, but then she has a “real job” and leaves the homestead regularly, so she has to maintain a semblance of humanity.

Not me. When our older two kids were little, I was nicknamed “The Safety Queen” for my obvious concern about the life and limb of our beloved offspring. I described myself as a shivering teacup poodle, sure there was danger around every corner and ever alert. Like the Gary Larsen Far Side, a cartoon of a dachshund starting up the espresso machine with the words “How nervous little dogs start their day.”

Then, when I was more sure the children would survive the day, I became a herding dog, maybe a border collie, trying to keep track of my small flock as they began to navigate the world—where are they? What are they doing? Are there wolves nearby? Nudging them in the right direction and ultimately back home.

But I’ve been a Corgi, nipping at their heels, for a long time. It’s the school thing that does it to you.

I don’t want to be a nagging mother. I want to avoid nagging, to bug, and buzzing around like an annoying mosquito: Have you done your homework? Did you do the dishes? Have you turned in that signed field trip form I gave you last week? So I’ve tried the running and nipping technique.

This involves rushing from child to child, checking that they’re doing what they should be doing, Border Collie-style, while nipping at their heels (not literally—OMG, children’s feet are disgusting) to remind them about deadlines, school supplies, upcoming visits from grandparents they should prep for. Rush, rush, rush, nip, nip, nip. It’s kind of exhausting but good exercise.

I’m not sure what breed I’ll be once the younger two are launched (number one is safely landed at university and looks like he’ll stay). Not a lap dog, that’s for sure. My mother is a terrier, with bursts of frenetic activity, between book devouring. The other grandma is one of that Old English Sheepdogs that jumps up when something gets their attention and flops down for a nap when things cool down.

Which will I become when I no longer need to nip? Maybe I’d like to be a working breed, a German Shepherd or a Labrador, doing my job all day (though I’m not sure what kind of writer a Labrador would make, I always think ours speaks in a California surfer patois) and then exposing my belly on a excellent rub each night.

My spouse might like that. Even though that would mean I still was, technically, a bitch.