Does having a pet make you a parent?

Does having a pet make you a parent?

             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.
  Well, yes.
   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!



With Love

SHILPA…

Motherhood.

Motherhood.

          C H I L D R E N.
   People are always so curious about this particular area  of our life, isn’t it? A married couple has to face this question from time to time: “Do you have kids?” When some of us reply in the affirmative, the response is,
       “You do? Wow! Aren’t they a blessing?!”
But, heaven forbid if one was to reply in the negative! The instant reaction is arched eyebrows that hit the roof, indignation writ large on the face and eyes that bore holes through your conscience, asking you,
         “NO? You DON’T have kids!? WHY? Don’t you like kids?”
       It fills the couple with such guilt, as if they have committed sacrilege, or some such thing! God help such couples. Especially, the woman.

      It is a matter of great  concern for the society if a woman hasn’t had a child. An avalanche of whys and wherefores follows the woman everywhere she goes. Her replies, which fail to satiate people’s curiosity, are followed with counterarguments that can wreck havoc on her psyche. Her decisions are then  dissected some more; a sadistic pleasure derived out of the entire exercise.  Finally, after having had  their fill of fodder for gossip and discussed the minutest details of the woman’s life, life gets back to normal – for the society and for the poor woman.
      Maybe they find greener pastures and leave that woman in peace! I know. I have been through the entire  roller-coaster ride of being interrogated, ridiculed…Ugh! Now that I am way past the childbearing age, I am able to live in peace. Another reason why I am living in peace is, I brought home a dog and brought him up as my child. Of course, it had its own set of teething troubles. For, when I did get him home a decade ago, there  began another round of questioning.
      “Why an animal?Why not adopt a child?Why not make use of the latest fertility treatments?Who will be your support in your old age?” Aargh! As if it made any difference in their lives that I brought home an animal!
        It amuses me, the kind of reasons people come up with! Do they really worry who will care for me in my old age? As if every child cares for his parents when they get old. A countless sad stories we have heard of children literally throwing their parents out of their own homes…I don’t even want to think about it!
     It is the most personal matter – childbirth – and it should be left to the woman to decide if she wants to have any. It definitely will not make her incomplete.  It should not! A woman is complete the way she is! Yes, there’s this notion that making use of the ability to give birth to a child through one’s womb, is being thankful to our Creator for His blessing. But, not putting that womb to good use is not going to hurt the Creator’s sentiments; He knows why we do what we do!
           I wonder when the day will arise when decisions as intimate as marriage and having children will be the concerned person’s prerogative. It can be stifling following societal norms when the heart isn’t ready for such momentous decisions. There could be reasons why someone would prefer staying single for the rest of their lives, or why someone might decide to give up the thought of bringing a child into this world. It’s their life, why must the world  bother?
        Just let people be!
     

   

Image

The motherhood challenge.

A  few days ago, a dear friend of mine wrote a touching post disapproving the ‘motherhood challenge’ that has been going viral on Facebook. Motherhood challenge is all about women posting pictures with their children and tagging other women, who according to them, are ‘awesome mothers’. But, my friend felt that by adding the words challenge and dare,  they were drawing a divide between themselves and others who weren’t blessed enough.  I was touched by her views that defended women who might feel marginalised by such a challenge, although that might not be the motive behind it at all.
Wonder how many women would feel the way my friend did! How many of the ‘blessed ones’ try and understand that behind such decisions might lie a reason, a helplessness that gives a woman endless pain? We haven’t chosen to stay childless because of a lack of fondness for children. There were reasons and circumstances that stood in the way of us holding our babies in our wombs, in our arms. We do not lack the compassion, the patience, the love required to bring up a child. Oh no, we don’t! We have been blessed with enough of it all. But, we chose to shower all of it on someone other than our own flesh and blood because that’s how it was destined.
Some among us lavished it all on children who were not born in their bellies, but were born in their hearts. Many, like me, bestowed it on adorable little furry beings, inviting them into our families to fill the vacuum that we sorely felt for a long time. And, mind you, doing it all wasn’t easy, to begin with. These special babies weren’t ours. We made them ours. We did have numerous teething troubles, but we surged ahead to make them a part of ourselves.
Believe me, it has been a fight all the way. A fight we know we won when we see the love in those eyes that now shine brightly for us, making us feel all warm and mushy! Today, as many of my kind look at our special babies, we realise how blessed we have been, for we were chosen to give our love to those who needed it the most. So, if that is not being blessed, I don’t know what is!
There are some, who have consciously chosen to stay childless, for reasons best known to them. Shouldn’t accepting their decisions whole-heartedly be a duty of the others?  Isn’t it their life to do as they please? You really know nothing about the battles they fight, do you? Why not give it a consideration before passing a judgement? In fact, why pass judgements at all?  Why make them feel side-lined by starting such challenges? Isn’t there enough sadness in this world already?

Motherhood is, indeed, a challenge –  experiencing labour pains, delivering a baby – it needs superhuman efforts to go through it all. And, of course, selflessness and unconditional love. I was fortunate enough to witness a delivery, although not as fortunate enough  to bear the pitiful moans of the mother, or the sight of all the blood after the delivery. I have seen the amount of hard work it takes to bring up a child and to mould him into a loving, caring human being. But, isn’t it also a challenge living with the knowledge that one’s womb isn’t blessed enough to carry in it a life that would one day make a woman complete? Isn’t it a challenge holding another’s child in one’s arms and bringing him up as one’s own, knowing that at the end of the day one won’t be addressed as ‘mom’?
If facing the blows that life deals and accepting  destiny bravely fails to make one an awesome woman, then I would like to know what does!

Motherhood – 2.

Motherhood – 2.

                    I have heard so many women say, that they were born to be mothers.  I can see it in their eyes, on their faces – they glow at the mere mention of their children. In fact, I have seen it on every mother’s face. Frankly,  I have no words to explain it, but women – mothers – have that look, the know-all-about- kids look, and an overflowing dam of love in those eyes. A look, which I lack. Every time I look into the mirror, I fail to see what I see on their faces, in their eyes. And, then, I deduce that maybe I wasn’t born to be a mother. That explains the goosebumps I had, when I witnessed a delivery  couple days ago.
It was a chance encounter I had, witnessing a new born baby and her mother, being cleaned after the delivery. The scene left me lightheaded. I kept looking away from the mother, and kept looking at the wailing baby, who was trying to hold my finger. And, the first feeling I had was, I sure wouldn’t have been able to go through this! I must sound selfish, isn’t it? As I stood there, in the delivery room, I kept asking myself if I would ever go through all the pain, the stress, to bring a human being into this world.
Would I ever be so selfless? So giving? For the sake of a child – my child? And, as the thoughts raced through my mind, I began to feel my blood pressure going for a dip. I rushed out of the place,  into my world, where there was just me, and my thoughts. Yes, I was right. I really am not cut out to be a mother. I wasn’t born to be a mother. Maybe that is why I even find it difficult sketching babies! Animals – I enjoy sketching. But, babies – I tried. And, failed.
My respect for mothers has risen a thousandfold after witnessing the new mother go through everything she did. And, I have come to the conclusion, that it should be made mandatory for every father to witness the birth of his child. Witness the pains the woman goes through to bring his child into this world. The entire scene haunts me night and day. Yes, it haunts me. And, it makes me imagine the torture those women go through, who have to experience it several times, till the time they bear a son.

Coming back to my world, there are times, when I feel so out of place, when among a group of mothers. They have so much to share about their babies. And, I don’t. I share this here because it is a topic I would rather not share with my life partner. He would never understand! Which man does?! But, yesterday, a chance meeting with the mother of my ‘child’s’ friend left me feeling overwhelmed. I happened to meet  a friend, who is a pet-mother. Just like me. Her ‘son’, Scotch, was my ‘son’, Chikoo’s, best friend! We got talking, and it felt like a dam had broken!
I shared with her Chikoo’s health issues, his growing age, the fear that haunts me night and day as time flies. And, at the end, it felt great! Just sharing my feelings, swapping stories about our babies, made me feel that I did belong somewhere. I did belong to this different group of parents, who had their own different stories to share. I know, there are  people out there, who find the mere thought of ‘being a per-parent’ utterly ridiculous. That bringing up a child and bringing up a pet is poles apart. Yes, it is. But, it is these very different babies, who make women like me feel complete. Feel like mothers, albeit of a different kind!
True. I was not born to be a mother to a human baby. But, I  was born to be a mother to a little, four-legged soul, who filled my heart and my world with the joy I had not known until he arrived. True. I won’t ever know what my mother and every other mother went through. But, I will know what a mother like me goes through just imagining how her life is going to be without the loving bundle of fur, who showers her with endless love, but is blessed with such a short life-span. True, I wasn’t born to be like every other woman in this world. But, I was born to live a different kind of life with my different kind of baby. And, for this, I am thankful. Ever so thankful.