By Lisa Cherry
I have to confess that, by nature, I am not a pet lover. But my children love pets, and in my 26 years of parenting, it seems like I have had more than enough pet duty for one lifetime.
Over the years I have fed, washed, cleaned up after, taken to the vet, and buried a sizable menagerie of dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits, hermit crabs, hamsters, fish and even two horses. If someone kept score of mothering-pet-performances, mine would surely be decent.
Recently when the last dog ran off, and the horse was given away, I breathed a sigh of relief. We were finally done. No more pet disasters and messes! Surely this was a reward of middle-age parenting, Doug and I reasoned.
So imagine my shock when my phone rang with my sweet son Ethan on the line. "Mom, Dad and I are at the pet store. He said I should call you and see if it was O.K. for me to get two goldfish with my spending money."
At first I was silent. Doug is at the pet store? Has he lost his mind?? I thought we had agreed....no more pets!!!
I was so tempted to say to Ethan, "Put your father on the phone!" But then I remembered that I was growing into the Proverbs 31 woman who conquers the whine. So instead I mustered every bit of sweetness I could find and said what any good mother/wife would say in that situation.
"Sure, honey, if Daddy says it's a good idea." All the while remembering the drain clogged with fish gravel that Ethan left in the bathroom with his last batch of fish.
Ethan was so proud when he got in the car that I did not regret my decision. He held that bag of fish with such gentle love.
Our two new pets were pampered with a flurry of attention…so much so that one of them lasted only 36 hours. When Ethan found fish #1 belly up, his heart was broken. Wow, he really did care for that little bit of life. Such tenderness. Such compassion. Such wonderful traits to nurture in a rough and tumble little boy.
Now I was feeling some regrets—not for the acquisition of the fish, but for my own crusty, cynical attitude. Maybe these pets have served some maturing purposes in my kids' lives that I had taken for granted?
I hate it when I find myself turning stiff, dry, and boring! I think there’s a danger of that when people get old, isn't there? Or sometimes that's how selfish, lazy people act who don't focus on the other peoples’ priorities! Ouch!
So I need to stay tender and sensitive. I don't want to get crusty!
O. K...so maybe I will rethink this “no more pets” decision.
But could we just go for the fish, and not the dog? At least for now???