I have had wonderful pets. Each one with it’s own quirks and personality. I’ve taken them everywhere, nurtured them through illness and woken through the middle of the night to relieve tiny bladders. I’ve given them nicknames, told stories about their escapades to other pet lovers. I even sent videos of them being furry and adorable to my husband while he was out of town. They were my little family and I was their loving owner.
But…I was NOT their MOM.
I am a mom now. As in real humans with real dependency on me. So when I’m trolling Instagram and I see you posting pictures of your pet, which you’ve given both a middle and last name, napping on your lap with the hashtag #momlife I need to break the news to you. The minute you used those words you surrendered your ‘Totally Sane And Not A Crazy Cat Lady’ card to claim maternity status of an animal.
Because pets are not kids. You are not a mom if you have pets. You are a pet owner.
It is a modern trend that we crossed the line from ‘animal lover’ and ‘pet owner’ into ‘pet mom’ with ‘fur babies’. The Pet Moms have allowed for a new lucrative market of clothing, strollers, spas, exercise equipment and even entertainment for their four legged family members. I can see how the jump is quickly made when you are elevating your pet to human status, using all your maternal instincts to nurture them and spending all your time and money to give them the best. However, pets weren’t “kids” forty years ago and they still aren’t today.
In some ways having a pet is like having a kid. Sure, sometimes we put our kids in pens, throw some snacks at them and yell one-word commands while they feign obedience. I’ll admit that sometimes my kid’s ‘tricks’ are rewarded with treats. I’d be lying if I said I never played fetch with a toddler. But I can’t strap my kids to a run in the backyard and leave them a dish of water and food for the day. I can’t feed my children the same thing for every meal of every day without a pint-sized mutiny. I can’t have full blown happy hour on the porch while my kids lounge in the kiddie pool contently gnawing on a bone. I can’t put them on a leash in public places and rub their nose in accidents, at least not without some major questioning of my parental abilities.
Even if I would like to do some of these things, a pet may be treated as a surrogate child but a child can never be treated as the opposite. Simply because the two are not the same.
Pets don’t come with curfew enforcement, mending tiny broken hearts and tutoring homework. Pets don’t yell that they hate you and make you question all the so-called necessary parental nagging on responsibility and wise life decisions. Pets don’t talk back, steal your iPad or complain that ‘Bingo’s Mom lets him do whatever he wants’ while slamming shut their doggy door.
So you keep taking pictures of your adorable labro-cock-doddle-hoo with some monogrammed iced collar. Share videos of their first stroller ride to the doggy amusement park. Cuddle them, nurture them, set up playdates and know that this pet is fortunate to have such a great owner.
However, unless your ovaries grow fur, and you sprout a tail Rover is not your child.