I read this article recently by Dr. Ellen Walker about how a new puppy made her realize how much time and energy goes into parenting. Dr. Walker is childfree-by-choice and considers her new puppy the “closest thing to being a mom I’ll ever come.”
One of her commenters added, “If you can’t care for a pet, never have kids.”
I think there’s something to that.
I am an utterly besotted cat-mom. Felicity, my calico rescue, has nudged her mischievous way into my heart and I’m not afraid to admit here that I love her. Would the love I feel for her compare to what I would have felt for a child? I couldn’t say, but I’m guessing not. I’ll never know. What I do know though, is that I might not have been the kind of parent I’d hoped to be.
It’s the whole discipline thing. On paper I’m adamant about well-behaved children, good manners, and not being pushed around by a two-foot-tall tyrant. And yet I’m completely at the mercy of a ten-pound furry tyrant. She misbehaves, does things I know she knows she’s not supposed to do, looks at me out of the corner of her eye while she scratches my couch, climbs onto the dining room table to eat my flowers, sleeps on my clothes, shreds my notes, the list goes on and on. And do I discipline her? No, not really.
Maybe it’s because I know she’s just a cat and not a child who is trying to push the boundaries of independence by pushing my buttons, but it does make me wonder what kind of mother I really would have been.