With Mother’s Day upon us, I’ve seen more than my fair share of this argument back and forth across a variety of social media pages, as well as a couple interesting articles making their rounds, too (usually in callous tones); Are pet owners “parents” and can animals be called their “kids”? Should they celebrate Mother’s/Father’s Day?
My personal stance on the subject at hand, like many other aspects in life, is this: If something isn’t adversely affecting you or your life personally, who are you to dictate how someone else lives theirs? I, for one, absolutely consider myself a “dog mom”. Our pups are our children, and are the only kind we’ve found ourselves ready for at this stage in our life. My husband is their “dad”, and we do little things for each other accordingly on these holidays. We’ve started the tradition now that will continue going forward how ever our family may grow. Some relatives close to us also partake by including us on these special days, too, because of how we love our fur babies, which is sweet and means a great deal to us, also. Sure, people can feel however they choose about it, but isn’t that ultimately our call? I mean, it’s my husband and our family that chooses to acknowledge ourselves as such, we aren’t expecting anything from the rest of the world. I never in any way knew that this was somehow considered offensive to parents until recently, and I was honestly shocked at how many were up in arms and outright nasty about it.
Referring to my dogs as my kids does not in any way discredit anything you do with yours of the human variety. It doesn’t somehow cheapen your love by associating it with mine, and it certainly doesn’t equate giving birth to adopting an animal. Not everything in life needs to be a competition, and no one is denouncing all of the work that goes into rearing children simply because they refer to raising a pet in that context. We’ve become a society that constantly feels the need to one-up each other whenever the opportunity presents itself; you can’t feel any emotion without being reminded that someone out there indefinitely has it better/worse/etc. Kado and Harlow bring unconditional love and joy to our lives, and we adore them mutually. Now because I call our pups our “kids”, I’m somehow inadvertently attacking someone else? That’s just a little ridiculous, in my opinion. No one who refers to their pets as their children is doing so as a jab at any other mother or their child, nor are we implying that they are exactly the same by any stretch of the imagination. We do it as a term of endearment for the closest things we currently have in the only way we know/can imagine how. I’m sorry, but I sincerely don’t understand how that manages to offend?
There are also no “requirements” that need to be met or hoops that must be jumped through in order to refer to yourself as a mother. There are birth mothers, of course, but there are also foster mothers, adoptive mothers, grandparents and older siblings who raise their relatives in a maternal role. Physically birthing a child is not the only qualifier for that position. In fact, there are many who do just that and still don’t parent their children themselves. Then there are those who are physically unable to conceive altogether, or simply choose not to, and find their maternal instincts are satisfied by nurturing their pets. The very word “mother” is not solely a noun, either; the definition of mother as a verb is “to care for or protect like a mother”. I am responsible for two living, breathing beings – covered in fur or not, they are our responsibility to care for and make sure their needs are met. We all embark on different paths in this life and if I so desire to love our pups as our “babies” until I’m ready for anything further, I’m not sure how or why that bothers someone else.
You are absolutely entitled to your opinion of not acknowledging pet parents as such, just as I am to mine that we very much are. What you are not entitled to, however, is to belittle or degrade someone else for not adhering to the exact same beliefs you do. You can think whatever you desire – that fur moms/dads are silly, that animals aren’t family/babies, etc. – but there’s no reason in the world to use that to bash another’s different way of life. Everyone has their own opinions, of course. But they’re exactly that: YOUR opinion and yours alone, and no one else is obligated to abide by such but you. Live and let live. Let people love who and what they love. Let them enjoy things. Don’t take everything so personally. If it isn’t for you, it isn’t for you, and that’s okay. But you have no business taking away from someone else. There’s enough negativity in the world without any unnecessary excess over simple things that bring others happiness (and in no way harm anyone else).
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, whether your baby be human, angel, non-biological, furry, feathered, or what have you!