Spoiler alert: My son is not getting a puppy for Christmas. Not this Christmas, not next Christmas nor the one after that. He’ll likely never get a furry creature. I understand this stance may make me seem like a mean mommy and I’ve made peace with that!
This article is for all the mamas that constantly field questions on when you’ll be bringing a furry creature into your home. If you have a furry creature or are considering adopting (PSA: adopt don’t shop!) then for the sake of your children, stop reading. I don’t want to dissuade you with my analytical and O.C.D-laden arguments in the next few paragraphs.
“A boy and his dog!” “Man’s best friend!” “Happiness is a puppy!” I’ve heard them all. Mostly from my own mother, who bless her heart, means well. To which I respond, “Happiness is staying on my nice warm couch and not having to walk a dog in the cold, harsh north-east winters.” She’s a snow bird and takes off back to Florida the second it drops below 65 degrees.
In fairness, I should explain that I grew up with a menagerie of creatures. I’m a HUGE animal lover and I firmly believe if an animal doesn’t like you, there’s something wrong with YOU! Growing up we had it all; dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, turtles, an iguana, and even a pig at one point. If anyone is well-versed in being raised with animals, it’s this mama right here!
So why withhold the love of a furry friend from my son? Honest answer, I’m lazy. There I said it. Between raising a tiny human, working full-time, and all the other extra-curricular activities, there are days when I feel like I can’t keep my head above water. Adding a four-legged friend into the mix seems absurd!
One thing about growing up with all those animals, besides the love, was the work! And let’s be honest, as a child it wasn’t me who made sure all the living creatures in our house stayed that way, it was my mother. And now that I’m a mother, I do not want or need that added responsibility. I don’t care how old your child is, or how many times they say they’ll walk, feed and clean whatever cage belonging to whatever animal they’re begging you to bring home at the moment, they won’t do it. They won’t. Sure, they might for like the first 48 hours or until the newness of the pet wears off. And yes, you could argue it’s a lesson in accountability for them, but why not take the path easier traveled and start simple with cleaning their rooms or some other mundane task where the consequences of not doing it doesn’t end up in an animal graveyard.
OK, OK, I’m being morose. But I have too many real-world examples from well-meaning mamas in my tribe. Take my niece for example, who begged my sister over a year for a bunny. The photos of her with her cute bunny decked out with a bow on it’s head under the Christmas tree were enough to put all the warm and fuzzies in your heart for a lifetime. Fast-forward two years later and I don’t have a phone conversation with my sister that doesn’t involve listening to her clean, feed or water the bunny in the background. Or my best friend who cannot stop vacuuming the dog hair off her couch, bed, floor, whatever. Kicks in my OCD just listening to it.
Now if you know me you’re saying, “Angela you’re a hypocrite-you have an animal at home.” Yes, yes I do. I have an animal that was a birthday present to me 7 years ago, pre-kid. A Senegal parrot who requires so much attention, feather-vacuuming and cage cleaning for, get this, 32-50 years. That’s how long they live. Incredible right. I’m a servant to this animal for pretty much the remainder of my adult life. But I take that responsibility because 7 years ago I made a promise to my then boyfriend that I would clean, feed, and love this animal if he got it for me for my birthday. You read that right, I acted exactly like my niece. To my dismay, being adult means you have to honor your promises. To this day, my husband hasn’t cleaned the birdcage once. Kids however, find an adorable way to weasel out of their commitments.
My point is mamas, as the holiday season approaches, if YOU really want an animal that you promise to love, feed, and take care of for the next 10+ years then by all means get one! But don’t do it for your kids or your well-meaning family members. Here’s my unsolicited advice, you want your kids to be kind-loving-animal people? Zoo memberships make an awesome holiday gift!