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. ♥ 

Reblog: Huffington Post FTW!

The other day I found an article on the Huffington Post by Jacqueline Melissen that made my day. As someone that is Childless Not By Choice (CNBC), the points made in this article, extolling the importance of the childless aunt in the lives of her nieces and nephews, struck a particular cord. It was so well written that I can’t think of anything to add, so without further ado:

Jacqueline Melissen Headshot

Why Child-Free Aunties Are Amazing

Posted: 06/02/2015 5:28 pm EDT Updated: 06/05/2015 8:59 am EDT
BABYSIT
 
My children, like many lucky kids, have an amazing auntie. She’s the kind of aunt who comes along on road trips, takes my kids for the weekend, buys thoughtful gifts, and organizes living-room dance parties whenever she’s over. My children love their Auntie Katy, and my husband (her brother) and I need her.

When I peruse my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I can’t help but notice that the world is full of Auntie Katys. I’ve thought about this a lot, and concluded that there are many reasons why the adult, child-free aunties of the world are particularly wonderful. (I’m obviously talking about a specific kind of aunt here, but please don’t feel excluded if you or someone you know is just like this in helpfulness and affection, but not exactly in other ways. This could describe a good friend, or a great aunt, someone with slightly older children, or, of course, a wonderful uncle.)

So, aunties, here’s why you are so special to parents of small children:

First of all, there is your competence. You are an adult. You have a job, a home, a life. If there is an emergency when you are in charge, you’re just as likely to be able to cope with it as I am. I can trust you to be responsible for more than a few hours, for more than an evening, for a whole weekend if you’re willing, and I don’t necessarily need to leave a long list of specific instructions. And we both know it’s easier for you to maintain both the “fun” and the control, because you can go home afterward. To yourhome, where it is (I assume) quieter and toyless and Dora-free.

Secondly, there’s your time and energy. While parents are constantly adjusting to the schedules of their children, you are in charge of your own timeline. Obviously you have work, and relationships, and a life, but you also probably have free time that you, alone, control. So if you love my kids, which you do, you can choose to spend time with them. And then, while you’re here, you play hide-and-seek, teach cartwheels in the backyard, and pull a toddler around on the wagon. You’ve made time to see the kids, and you want to play with the kids! Everyone wins, especially me and my hot, fresh coffee.

Next, there are the presents. Oh, the presents. As an adult, you can spend money on whatever you wish, and of course you don’t need to spend any money on your nieces and nephews; your very presence in their lives is enough. However, if you choose to buy the world’s most fun board game or a huge glitter-covered princess-themed art supply kit, we will take it!

Finally, and most importantly, there is the love. You genuinely, completely love my children. You’re invested in them. You’re interested in their lives. You think they are adorable and awesome and hilarious, and really are delighted if they call and leave a funny message on your voicemail or send you a piece of scribbled-on construction paper in the mail. These children are your family, and you love them; it’s as simple as that. I don’t think that changes, for the most part, when an Aunt has her own children–I know I love my own incredible nieces and nephews as much as I ever have. But this love? It’s the best part.

I guess that, like any parent, I am just immensely grateful to have someone, anyone, who will arrive at my house and immediately get down on her knees for kiddie hugs and kisses and tickles and squeezes; who texts to say, “Are you guys around to Skype?” but really only wants me to say “yes” if the kids are awake; who remembers all of my kids’ ages and birthdays and what they said they want for Christmas; and who will listen with obvious love and amusement to a long, rambling, confusing, nonsensical story from a four-year-old.

Child-free aunties, we parents love you dearly, and we genuinely want you to be as happy as you deserve to be, so we truly hope you’ll be a mother yourself someday, if that’s what would make you happy. We have seen, firsthand, how great you would be at it. But, secretly and selfishly, we kind of hope it’s not for a while.

Finally, I wanted to add a quick note of apology. Sometimes we moms may hurt your feelings, aunts. We have been known to say, or to accidentally imply, “You don’t understand; you’re not a mother.” This can be very insensitive and ungrateful, I know. But here’s the thing: being the mother of small children can be so all-consuming for us, we sometimes feel like we are nothing else. So we look at you, with your career and your free time, your unstained dress clothes and your perky boobs, your trip to Europe and your cool hiking adventure, and we sometimes feel just a tiny bit jealous. We feel the need to be better than you at parenting, for pete’s sake, because sometimes it seems like that’s all we have. Please just give us this one, dear Aunties; forgive us for our insensitivity, and keep coming over to babysit anyway. If nothing else, come for the kids. They love you just as much as you love them.

*blogger’s note: the original article page can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jacqueline-melissen/child-free-aunts_b_7490088.html