Tag Archives: pets

My Kids Make Me Do Things I Don’t Want To

I have said for years that when our aging cat Tommy dies, we will be cat-free. No more pets that don’t live in a tank.

At our house, the rule has always been: no dogs, no snakes, no large bugs. This includes spiders and hermit crabs. Fool me once (the smelly hermit crab). Over the years, we’ve had parakeets, reptiles, fish, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, and cats. All these animals have at least one thing in common. They don’t use a toilet. It sounds terribly selfish, but I was looking forward to a pet-free home.

But now.

My youngest is left with me much of the day, while her five older siblings go out to work or to college, or worse yet (for me), to some fun activity that she’s too young for. There aren’t really many of those, but you’d think so.

So she wants a kitten. And I’m bending.

I do not want a kitten: twenty more years of fur everywhere, randomly deposited vomit, poop in a box, the possibility of poop not in a box…

If it (we) fails at being an “inside” cat…fleas every summer. So it must be an inside cat. We really failed at that before. Oh, and the vet costs, which are financially comparable to human medical costs. Shots, fixing, declawing, shots, shots. We can’t afford human medical bills.

If it (we) fails at being an inside cat, the bill for getting hit by a car and breaking its pelvis.

Or for being swung by its tail, a serious injury leaving the cat needing manual help to empty its bladder.

Or getting mauled by an unknown animal, having to spend six months quarantined in a cage. The medical bill for my husband when its teeth accidentally connect with my husband’s hand while in a biting frenzy to get out of the box while being hauled to the vet.

True stories, every one. Tommy and his mother Isabel. My husband needed a series of rabies shots.

So my vote is: no thanks.

But now.

My daughter is a mostly easygoing, compliant teenager. And that is one welcome quality in this family.

We have been homeschoolers all along. My other children had each other for company. They bounced off each other while I frequently redirected their attention back to the work. It was a tremendous amount of fun. It was an amazingly rich learning experience for us all. It bonded us all together in a way I did not know possible. We developed a unique culture of our own. The kids are very close, though not always harmonious, and will be close all their lives. They are real friends. This, by the way, is the real reason to home educate.

My youngest is five years younger than her next older sister. Though she is an equal emotionally, intellectually, maturity-wise, she is nevertheless just starting high school. So here she will be, with just me, a lot of the time. Just us two homeschooling.

She really is going to miss something great that they had, and I’m bending.

She misses her siblings during the day. To have a kitten would brighten her life.  And she will have the responsibility to take care of it. It would be a source of comfort and amusement every day.  I won’t be immune to the onslaught of cuteness either, once the blasted animal moves in.

My kids have done nothing but make me do things I don’t want to do. The things I do for them.

Update 12/14: The kitten has arrived.  She looks exactly like the ridiculously cute picture at the top of this post, except she seems incredibly tinier, and her mew is so small and high as to be almost inaudible. AWWWW!

Advertisements

Projects, Pets, and Full Plates

If you are a woman with a child, don’t look for projects. You already have a project that requires all your attention and talent. You already have a built-in full-time career.

We all feel more comfy with tasks or jobs. They come with objective measures for how well the job is done.  The measures tell you when the job is completed and you can move on. These jobs are things to do which have a finishing point, about which we can feel a sense of accomplishment. Things which we can exert our power over and receive no willful resistance. Things for which we receive feedback about our performance from coworkers and superiors.

But if you have children, you have an ongoing task built into your life which calls for different methods. That person, or those people, require that you engage with them, act toward them, behave around them. They require that you constantly acquire wisdom about how to teach and guide them. You need to learn on the job.

This task is never done; it is life-long.

You will receive a lot of resistance to your work. You are struggling with an autonomous being who is your equal in will, and hasn’t yet learned to be master of himself.  He is still learning self-control, other-centeredness, and courtesy. You may have several of these beings to relate to, each different from the others.

There are only subjective and open-ended measures for your work; you can never know whether you are accomplishing your job well. Results are as permanent as sand beneath the waves. In fact, you will probably get the worst resistance and hostility when you are doing your job best.

I understand why women with children opt for careers rather than staying home full-time; in some ways it’s easier.

But I find a puzzling thing among women with and without careers.

Working women with demanding jobs and children find themselves stressed and obsessed with a third task.  It can be a ministry, a demanding pastime, or a demanding pet. The notable thing about these third tasks is that they are optional.

Women who believe that it is preferable to be full-time stay at home mothers, and even homeschool, because that lifestyle allows them to be engaged in their children’s lives…who have chosen to be the primary teachers and disciplers to their children…also find themselves engaged in a third task.  It might be a ministry, a family hobby, or just the need to be involved in the endless opportunities available to a woman who has complete prerogative over her schedule, and who has a car. With these optional tasks, these women are also adding stress and distraction to their already-full plates.

Any and all of those things will crowd out the real eternal task you have in front of you: raising your child. Loving your child takes everything you have.

Raising a child offers little reward in a material sense. Many times you will feel very alone.  You will not feel a sense of accomplishment so much as an awareness of how badly you have done the job compared to how it ought to have been done. You will not be paid or be treated to any system of job reviews. There is no system to provide you with feedback from co-workers or superiors. And you cannot quit this job, ever.

It’s relationship you are tasked with.  Building a relationship with each of the children you have is your responsibility. You are called to it the day your child is born. It’s open-ended, subjective, unpredictable, exhausting, and thankless. It’s humbling and absolutely necessary.

And please don’t mistake pet ownership for relationship. Pets are not eternal beings who will forever be influenced by the quality of your discipling. You are not answerable to Almighty God for how faithfully you lived out your calling to bend them toward a lifetime of faithfulness. Pets do not have an eternal destiny. Preferring pet training to the call of loving and shaping your child is so sad I don’t know where to go with it.