Rebuttal to Little Things Sarah Delgado: On the Definition of Parenting

A couple housekeeping items today before we get into it:

1. Yes, I realize today is Friday and I normally do a funny/stress free post about something completely stupid…..I promise the stupid is coming tomorrow or Sunday. 😀 😛 LOL!!

This piece crammed itself into my already full brain and I had to get it out to relieve some of the pressure. It’s also on a topic that I am passionate about and want to change the way we view childlessness……with that said…..

2. This post is a rebuttal to an article I read on the Little Things web page. The original piece can be found here.


Dear Sarah, first of all I want to offer my empathy. You seem pretty stressed out and overwhelmed. But you are in luck! Although I don’t have human children, I DO work in childcare. And I can come over anytime you need a date night or just a nap. 😉

I wanted to address some of your 15 claims that somehow prove having a human child is better or vastly different than having a furbaby.

But first let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a 36 year old married mother of 2……cats. Yes, that’s right. My kids have 4 legs and fur. My husband and I have been married for a little over 3 years, and are members of the Childless Not By Choice community.

And adoption and surrogacy are not possibilities for us.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to bring up something so personal to garner sympathy. I just want to bring to light a possible common thread the people you callously addressed in your article are more than likely facing.

And it sucks. You want a human child so badly but you come to the place where you realize you’ll have a new normal for your life and you work hard to accept it.

Then you read an article about how you really aren’t a parent because your kids don’t look like the traditional definition of a child. Even after the author of said article talks about the, “ever more fluid definition of family. Love has so many shapes and I love and honor all of them….”. Until apparently that love trickles down to a mammal with 4 legs and a tail.

Oof!

Now I do realize that you probably don’t realize how much pressure, stress and shame we are put under by society by not being able to reproduce or adopt, but it is very real. And we are all working extremely hard to change society’s mindset. It is getting better, but there is still a long way to go.

Now, about that list of 15 things…..

1. While it is true that dogs and cats age faster than human kids (I’m not even sure why you brought this up, but there it is), the flip side of the coin is that means we will lose our children in our lifetime. And if we keep adopting, this will happen multiple times.

Have you ever had to sit on the bathroom floor holding your cat while she’s having seizures and looking up at you terrified and you are helpless to stop what is happening and pray that you don’t have to put her down? But you do that night because there was nothing else you could have done.

The pain of losing a furbaby that way is something I don’t wish on anybody. And dammit if someone is gonna try to make me feel like less of a mom because the child I watched die in my arms had four legs instead of 2.

3. Hmmmm….So it’s frowned upon to drop your kid off somewhere to have them bathed. Have your kids ever spent the night at a babysitters house (who you paid) and had a bath in the process?? I hate to break it to you, but that my dear is pretty much the same thing. 😉

5. When my husband and I welcome a new furbaby into our house, it’s for keeps. And while in some rare cases re-homing is the only option, that is a last resort and those parents that you describe are in the minority.

6. Part of being Childless Not By Choice also means we’ll never become grandparents of tiny humans. Thanks for hammering that point home.

7. This is almost too horrifying to even respond to. But I’m going to anyway. Those fellow pet parents that I know take way greater care of their furbabies when traveling then simply chucking Fluffy into a bag and stowing him under the seat. If we have to fly, we’ll leave them at a trusted babysitters or drive if we need to bring them along.

8. Speaking of horrifying………There is a reason responsible pet parents have adopted the hashtag “Adopt Don’t Shop.”

9. Do you know how often we have to buy cat food and litter?? And heaven help you if your furbaby is allergic to either one. So you have to keep buying different ones until you find the one that works. That can add up fast. And have you seen how expensive flea treatments can run? Then there are the trips to the vet for vaccines to keep them healthy. Oh yes, our kids get vaccines just like yours. The cost of which can add up fast.

12. Some say you haven’t lived until your dog has tried to hump your leg……several times a day. Our newly adopted kitten is also still trying to breastfeed….and he has sharp teeth. Such is life when you are a pet parent. 😉

13. Try sleeping at night when you have just brought a new fur baby into your home and you are terrified of what he can get into in the course of a night because you are still grieving the sudden loss of your oldest cat. A death that you could not have been prevented and your mama heart can’t take another loss. Add to this your natural proclivity for anxiety and insomnia and you wonder how you ever sleep at all.

I think that about covers it. I do want to say that I wish nothing but the best for you. Enjoy your human child and be grateful you are able to have her and watch her grow up. But please never forget those of us in the trenches of grief. Who’s love of their fur babies in no way takes away from the love you have for your human kids.

No matter what we call them.

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Two of the three loves of my life. My boys. I captured this moment one night last week after Chad had gone to sleep and our Riley climbed onto the bed and curled up next to his daddy and fell asleep. In that moment my heart swelled with love so profound I couldn’t explain it…..I am truly blessed. ♥ 

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