Recently I read an article in the newspaper about “why having pets doesn’t make you a parent.”
It spoke about how pets cannot be compared to children because you “aren’t teaching them to become independent and they are stuck with no choice but to love you.”
Hmm.. seems like a good enough topic for discussion, considering I have a pet but no children, and I consider him my child.
Yes, I do.
No, I haven’t had to spend sleepless nights worrying about his school/college admissions or his studies. I haven’t had to worry myself sick fearing for his life when he steps out of the house to attend school/college, nor have I had to worry about how his peer group might influence him in socially unacceptable ways!
So, naturally, you will say that my life has been peaceful! I haven’t had to bring up a thinking, feeling, reacting being and prepare him for the big, bad world out there.
In matters such as the above, yes. I haven’t had to deal with those issues you all have to face. My child has very few needs: food, water, walk. That’s all. Easy! No? According to the writer of the article, “having a pet is like playing with a living doll, a chance to enjoy the activity and ritual of parenthood without any of the purpose, consequences or hard work.”
Umm, no. That’s not right. We don’t simply run and play with our fur-balls, day-in and day-out!
We worry, that in spite of training them well, our children might dash out the door, into the street and get hit (or run over) by an oncoming speeding vehicle. A vehicle probably driven by a dog-hater, for all we know!
We worry our kids might not be welcome in the apartment complex we reside in; won’t be allowed to travel in the elevator of the building and driven out for “making too much noise”! The kind of ruckus the human kids make will never even be considered!
We worry about our kids’ health when they fall sick or grow old, for they can’t express their pain in words. We spend sleepless nights when our kids go through the pains of labour as well as the pain that comes with old age, comforting them, trying to coax them to take their meds, being by their side when they are in the worst possible condition.
Parenting is all about putting your child’s needs before your own. Caring for him more than you care about yourself, your feelings, or your desires. Helping him and watching him grow into a dynamic and complete human being, capable of facing life on his own; feeling pride seep through your every pore as you see him walking towards the goals you and he, both, set for him. Isn’t it?
We – the pet parents – do live somewhat similar lives. We care for our babies’ needs more than we care for our own.I may not help him to be the dynamic, well-rounded individual, out to change the world like you do for your offspring. But, I do my best to teach him to behave himself when you visit our home.
Our kids aren’t just living dolls that entertain us. They bring along their unconditional love into our lives and turn our world upside down!
Just to give you a quick peek into our world – at this very moment, I am sitting beside my son, typing this post as against sitting comfortably at my table in peace and quiet. What’s the big deal? you might ask. Well, you see, just as I was about to type the first word of the post, your kids out there began bursting crackers which frightened my baby (and it’s not even Diwali anymore). He just refused to sit by himself. So, I am down here, underneath the dining table (which is the safest place in the world, according to him!). Playing in the background is his favourite lullaby – a song which soothes him within minutes. A song which is not allowing me to think clearly and weigh the words I wish to use in my post.
But, I am here – for him, for my child – till the time he falls asleep peacefully. And, I will continue sitting here, in this very awkward position, just for his sake. Because I love him. Because I am his parent.
Wouldn’t you do it for your child? I am sure many of you must be typing out your posts in a somewhat similar setting, with your little ones fighting for your attention, nagging you with their funny tales, or worrying you with some imaginary, unfounded fears, isn’t it?
So, does my pet make me a parent? You tell me. Of course, it doesn’t bother me what others say. He makes me feel like his mother, despite not having born in my womb. And, for me, that is what matters!
Dear pet-owners, do your pets make you a parent? I would love to hear your views, too!