Hey, Susan Maushart: Pet Moms ARE Real Moms!
I am the proud mother of two boys. I've raised them since they were little, and I would do anything in the world for them. They bring me joy, happiness, companionship, and unconditional love. In turn, they depend on me to provide for them, raise them right, and care for them.
My two sons are cats, but that does not mean that I am not their mother. I am a pet mom.
A few nights ago, a friend tagged me in a post on Facebook where she'd linked to a Huffington Post article, "Pet Parents Are NOT Moms." I chose not to read it, because I wasn't really in the mood to get mad. A couple days later, she tagged me again, wondering what I thought, because she knows Pimp and Moo are my children.
So I finally read it, and then calmly closed the page, refusing to comment. There were already 407 comments going straight to the writer's narrow-minded head, and I wasn't going to be one of them. The only way I could see fit to answer appropriately was with my own post, illustrating how not only are pet parents mothers, but that we don't deserve the kind of angry, ridiculous crap Susan Maushart chose to spew at us in her column.
Maushart says she is a pet owner and regular mom, and that the two roles "have about as much in common as goldfish to Godzilla." Well, excuse me while I show you why Godzilla was apparently the biggest goldfish to ever grace the big screen.
This post irritated me on so many levels and on so many points, but the one that got me the most was this completely absurd statement: "It's become ideologically unsound to say so in public, but you and I both know that pets are stupid. Not just 'slow' or 'differently intelligent' -- just plain stupid."
Excuse me? Perhaps she's never heard of Max, the cat who saved his family from a house fire. Or Chaser, the dog who knows more than 1,000 words. Or Pudding the cat, who helped her mom (yes, her mom) survive a diabetic seizure by going for help, just six hours after being adopted from a shelter.
There are stories like this in the news every week. Perhaps the stupid person is the one who doesn't think pets are smart.
And if Maushart didn't sound stupid enough already, she goes on: "These 'kids' of ours eat their own vomit, run straight into oncoming traffic, and hump the furniture. Hello? Is that a reflection of their intelligence? Even more to the point, is that a reflection on our 'parenting'?"
Hello, indeed. I don't know about you, but I have known human children to do all those things, and worse. They eat dirt, stuff rocks up their nose, poop in their pants (and then sit there with a huge grin), play in the street, and, as for humping the furniture, well, I probably wouldn't put it past a teenage boy.
In answer to her main question, though: Yes, all of this is absolutely a reflection on our "parenting." If you raise your furchild right, he will know better than to eat his vomit, run in the street, or hump the furniture. Just the same as you'd teach a human child that all of those things are unacceptable behaviors. A true sign of intelligence is the ability to be taught, and both humans and animals posess that trait.
As for classifying myself as a true "parent," I am one because I do everything for my pet that you would do for a child. I make sure my cats have good quality food and fresh water and get plenty of exercise. I take them to the doctor when they are sick and make sure they have the best medical care possible. They have a wellness plan, similar to insurance, to cover emergencies. I soothe and protect them when they are scared. I get them a babysitter when I am gone for longer than they can stay home alone by themselves.
They depend on me for everything, just as a child would. I am their mother, the one solely responsible for making sure they stay healthy, happy, and safe.
On the lighter side, I also dress them up for Halloween and buy them presents for Christmas. I pet their heads softly when they are twitching in their sleep and having a nightmare. I kiss them goodbye every morning on my way out the door, and say hello to them first thing when I return in the evening. Their pictures are my screensavers on my computer and phone. I've had custom paintings done of them and had a photographer friend take portraits of the three of us -- my family.
I chose to have cat children. Some people don't have the luxury of that choice, and can't have human children even if they wanted to. To those people, pets are as close as they can get, and they can feel just as strongly about them as others would a child. How can someone tell these people that their pets are not their kids, when that's all they have?
I'm not saying in any way that raising a child is as simple as having a cat. I realize it's much more involved, and there's always the possibilty that your kid will become a serial killer if you screw up badly enough. What I am saying is that we pet moms care for our pets just as much as you do your children. They are part of our family and, as such, we'd do anything for them.
And that's the definition of being a mother.