5 Parenting Lessons I've Learned From My Cats
Whoever thinks parenting is easy is out of her mind. I admit, raising children does make one a little out of one's mind from time to time, but that comes with the territory. And I believe it makes us more, um, interesting, for lack of a better word. Oh, I know the word: "kooky."
Although I read all the books and asked all the right questions, nothing could have fully prepared me for the roller-coaster ride of motherhood. My kids are teens now, so I'm nearing the (sort of) finish line, but it's been a ride. And yes, "roller coaster" pretty much sums it up, but not like those kiddy rides at the state fair ... I'm taking Space Mountain.
My cats have been beside me for the entire ride. They've provided comfort when I've felt frustrated and been my dance partners when "proud mom" moments were celebrated. Although all three of my cats are spayed or neutered, they are well-versed in parenting advice. Forget Dr. Spock (is he even still relevant?) -- meet Saffy, Cosmo and Phoebe.
Here are five parenting lessons I've learned from my cats.
Oh, man -- children can try a person's patience. No matter what their age, they managed (and continue to manage) to find ways to push my buttons. You see, that's part of a child's job. I'm sure they had some sort of orientation meeting before they descended the birth canal. Parents need patience ... and lots of it.
Although cats can show their impatient side around mealtime, they're normally masters of composure. They'll stalk a bug for an hour or more -- they know if they remain calm, cool and collected, they'll come out on top. When I watch them, I'm totally amazed and inspired. I don't want to start stalking bugs, but I am reminded that maintaining patience keeps stressful situation less stressful, and teaches my kids that calm, clear-headedness is the best way to address situations.
Holding grudges doesn't serve anyone -- especially the person with the grievance. No matter what kids do that irritate us (again, part of their pre-birth orientation), I've learned we must deal with the situation and move on. When we forgive, we feel freedom. We teach this lesson to our children simply by modeling it.
Cats are forgiving creatures. Sure, if I feed them late one night, they aren't shy in conveying their dismay; however, after they've stuffed their fuzzy faces, they've forgotten all about my transgression. I love this about them. This is one of the reasons they sleep so well -- no grudges.
I'll admit it. I don't play enough. Even when my kids were young, I was never one who enjoyed playing with action figures or Matchbox cars. I did love reading, art projects and playing outside -- and we did lots of that. These days I feel like I've become more focused on my work, to the point of being a borderline workaholic. Certainly, my kids don't need me to play action figures with them any longer, but I still need that carefree break from responsibility and to spend fun time with my family.
Cats can pretty much always cut loose and go after a wand toy or milk jug ring. They play when the spirit moves them. I'd like to be more like a cat in that respect. I want to be more spontaneous and fun when the kids ask me to play a game or go for a walk. Thanks for the reminder, kitties.
As I mentioned, I can get pretty engrossed in work and end the day with strained brain and tense shoulders. This does not make for a fun mom.
Relaxation? My cats have it nailed. I mean, who relaxes more or better than a cat? I've recently decided when my daughter gets home from school at noon, we'd take a little time to relax together. We make lunch, visit, stretch out with the kitties or watch a show we both enjoy. It's a nice, relaxing break in the day.
5. Letting things go
Cats don't worry about much, do they? They move from sleep to play to eating to snuggling, right back to sleep. I love their breeziness. I want to be more breezy! Cats teach me that it's OK to sometimes leave dishes in the sink in favor of looking at a catalog with my daughter. They teach me not to fret about canceling a hair appointment if it means I get to go to an impromptu lunch with my son. In the end, the clean dishes and fresh hairdo won't be nearly as memorable as time spent with my kids. Thanks, cats!
Have your cats given you any parenting advice? Let us know in the comments!
Read More by Angie Bailey:
- 5 Tips for Helping Your Kids Start a Pet-Sitting Business
- I'm Raising My Son to Love Cats, No Matter What Society Thinks
- 6 Tips for Planning the Perfect Cat-themed Party for Kids
- 5 Ways Cats Are Great Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Kids
- 5 DIY Projects You and Your Kids Can Make for Your Cats
Learn more about your cat with Catster:
- Weird Cat Facts: 8 Reasons Your Cat Likes to Lick You
- 10 Sounds That Cats Make -- and What They Mean
- 8 Things to Try When Your Cat Won't Eat
About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.