What?!! You consider your pets, animals, furbabies to be your children? You are not alone in your confusion. On the eve of the American Mother’s Day holiday which is tomorrow, I would like to honor those women who have raised actual human children and also explain to the childless why animals are not the same as children, no matter how much you want them to be.
I guess you could say that I find the trend of adopting animals and considering them children to be very sad and disturbing. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals! We have lots of them. They are a wonderful addition to our family and we treat them well and enjoy their company and even , yes, talk to them and treat them like humans sometimes. But we also have six human children, all of which I gave birth to. I’m not leaving out adoptive moms, though. Raising human children doesn’t require going through the birth process, however I think whether you carried them for 9 months or not possibly could lead to slightly different parenting of your children, but I don’t know for sure. I have great respect and even awe for adoptive moms of whom I know quite a few.
Back to honoring mothers, it truly is the hardest job in the world. Nothing prepares you for it. I wanted to be a mommy since I was a little girl. I started babysitting for neighbors when I was eleven years old, then worked in child care centers for several years during college and also cared for my siblings’ children before I had my own. I had many ideas/fantasies of what I thought it would be like to have my own children. Like most human relationships, mothering turned out to be much more complicated than I expected! I am not the first woman to secretly think they may not be up to the task when holding a screaming , colicky baby for weeks on end. Even if you are really into child development and read all the best books and have a fairly easy baby , you still have to stay awake way past your bedtime, get up during the night, do things you never wanted to do and dig deep for the energy, patience and creativity that parenting humans requires. And then there are the ‘stages’. Terrible Twos, pre-teens, teens, young adults, etc. And even when they grow up and get married , most of them still expect a lot from their parents.
My children are now 13 years old to 26 years old. One of them is totally disabled. She is the easy one! Every day they give me reasons to pray for help and guidance and wisdom because they are people! People with complicated emotions and needs, unlike pets. They are born with personalities and genetic tendencies that are not easy to change , just like you and I . Sometimes they are easy when they’re little and then they hit puberty and they become like different people. Thankfully it is normal to have a some good months mixed in with the difficult ones. One heartbreaking , yet common pattern, is for children to repeat their parents’ worst teenage and young adult behaviors. Whether this is learned or genetic is not always easy to pinpoint. Nothing hurts more than to know that your child is hurting the way you hurt when you were their age and not be able to fix it even though you try. I’m always thankful for the times when my children seem relaxed and content. It’s tough growing up!
To keep this from getting too long I will just list some of the differences between human children and animals.
- Babies require constant attention and supervision unlike animals.
- You cannot put a baby in a cage when you need to go somewhere, like to your job.
- Humans live much longer and cannot be ‘put down’ when someone decides they are in pain or sick.
- Humans babies become human toddlers and begin to rebel against your every instruction and test their boundaries . This goes on for the next 21 years at least.
- Puppies require a lot of attention but are usually pretty well behaved by the time they are 1 1/2 to 2 years old. That is just when children are revving up to make you think you are the worst parent ever.
- Oh, never mind, everyone knows that dogs, cats, donkeys, monkeys, or whatever pet you have are not the same as humans.
- There are just so many ways human children can cause you extreme anxiety, grief, anger, frustration, and also bring you joy , love, and hope that animals cannot begin to replicate.
Why would anyone have children in this screwed up world and knowing that they are so complex and can ruin your life just as easily as they can make you proud? Because that’s what humans do! We carry on the human race . It’s built into us to reproduce and nurture. We have hope. We fall in love. We want to raise a family. However those things seem to be in jeopardy. So many young, 20-30 somethings are getting married but not having children. They may be too selfish or maybe they’re scared or maybe they have bought the lie that the earth is overpopulated or humans are less valuable than the earth itself, or they may think it’s too expensive. Be brave! Be thrifty! Read books! Make babies and put your whole heart into for caring your family. Give up buying more stuff and doing more stuff and form real, human relationships with your offspring. Or adopt some of the many orphans that need loving families. Or do both! Even if it’s difficult at times, it’s still worth it.
Happy Mother’s Day !