It summary, Susan Maushart suggests that “Pet Parents are NOT moms.” TenthMuse explains why the article is unnecessary and obnoxious, and ends with one of my favorite paragraphs in recent history:
But, I’ve had enough. ENOUGH of this “moms are better than other women” bullshit. I love women, I respect women. And I respect the right of all women to be mothers however they choose. Being a “real mom” doesn’t give you a perfect, magic fruit-producing vagina that lets you judge everyone else. Chances are your kid just ate dog shit anyway. Go check.
Anyways. I am a “pet mom” to three adorable pets that I talk about here far too much, I’m sure. I’ve always been a little crazy in my devotion to my pets, although I can firmly state I’m not one of those people who calls them my “babies” or my “kids” or dresses them up on a daily basis (Okay so I DO dress them up sometimes— but it is always to be FUNNY not because I think pets belong in clothes).
But I feel like in the past few months I’ve become pet “helicopter mom.” From my understanding of the term, a helicopter mom is one who is always buzzing around her kid, worried about any potential slight or harm. And now? That’s me. As I’ve discussed at length, what is going on with Milo has hit me hard. It was hard to watch him get sick the first time, but it has been ten times harder to watch him get sick again.
The first time, I was scared. But then he started to do better. Then a lot better. And I wasn’t so scared anymore. I felt confident. I felt like we’d fixed the problem and life was going to go back to normal.
But then he got sick again. And it was a lot harder to pull him out of his sickness. There was a night in which we were told to call at 7am to see how he was doing— but IF he made it until 7am they thought he’d be on a good path. IF he didn’t make it until 7am, they would call us. It was a hard night, hoping the phone didn’t ring.
And now that we’re through that, and he seems to be doing better, I’ve lost my confidence. When people ask how he’s doing, I’m much more hesitant to say good. I say… he’s doing good… for now. Because I’m so much more aware that this is going to be a life-long battle for him. He is going to be on medication twice per day, every day, forever (most likely). And he could relapse at any time. And there isn’t a whole hell of a lot that we can do about it except try to catch it as early as possible (which is so hard with him because the window between “Hmmmm he miiiiight be acting a little weird” and “he is in mortal danger” is less than 48 hours). Also, the vet instructs to keep him “happy” and “not stressed.” (Pressure!) And so I stare at him. A lot. And I worry, a lot. And I overanalyze every move he makes, A LOT.
My mom has made sideways comments about if I’m this worked up over a sick cat, she doesn’t know how I’ll be able to handle having a child who will inevitably fall sick sometimes (although, I hope to God I never have a child that falls into a “mortal danger” type illness— I think I’d handle a cold or the flu much better). But I guess that is neither here nor there.
What is “here” are the impending summer months. Which means a three day trip to NYC and a week long trip to the beach. Both of these trips are family-related and so they are not items we can forego.
And I’m stressed.
We weighed all the options on how to deal with the pets. When we’ve left in the past, we drop Stew off with a friend and have someone come feed the cats every few days. Obviously that is no longer an option. We could board the cats, but I’m worried that being in a cage all day will stress Milo out. We could take them to my parents’ house, because I know my mom would take as good care of them as I would and the cats like her… but they live two hours away and Milo criiiiiies non-stop in the car (and we don’t want to stress them out).
Finally it was decided we’d hire someone to stay in our house to take care of them. That way their life is as normal as possible, and hopefully as un-stressed as possible. My boss’s son, R (who is our age but unmarried and has no pets of his own to worry about) agreed to take the job for both trips. I feel like this is the best solution because everyone gets to stay here, he plans to be around the house a lot because he’ll be studying for the bar exam (he graduates from law school tomorrow!), and I really like him and feel like he is responsible.
But, that doesn’t prevent the worry. I just wrote up a list of written instructions for our trips. Let’s just say… I’m glad we’re paying him.
Three pages. Single spaced.
To be fair, almost one full page is general info about the house like alarm codes, the washing machine (should he decided to do laundry) and how to work the various TVs, netflix, blu ray player, PS3, wii, and xbox kinect. (Is there anything more frustrating than staring at someone else’s remotes totally clueless on how to turn on the damn tv?? A hold-over frustration from my babysitting days).
But still. Two pages of pet info. Feeding schedules, when they go out, where they sleep, how and when to distribute meds. Helpful hints about their personalities (Cali and Stew are more friendly and you can pick them up if you wish— Do not try to pick up Milo because he hates that and will scratch you. However Stew and Milo can be in the same room together and Stew and Cali can not. That kind of thing). Plus emergency numbers and information for our regular vet, the emergency vet, and my mom (in case he has general house or pet questions and he can’t get hold of me).
And now I feel insane. I feel like one of those moms who would hire me and then leave me what felt like a 100 page manual on her kids when she was just going out for a few hours to dinner.
But… the information seems important. I think?
I think it is probably an issue of control. Or, lack there-of. I’m worried that the cats will be scared of R and that Milo will be stressed out about him staying here. Or stressed at our being gone. Or that he’ll just hide from R and he won’t be able to get Milo to take his meds. And I’m concerned that one of these things, or a combination of them, or even for no reason at all– Milo will have another “attack” and R won’t realize it because he has no basis for understanding what is “weird” behavior from Milo and what is not.
So I guess since I can’t stay home and take care of him myself (and I really can’t, I would glad skip both of these trips if it was just about us but they are very important to our families), the only thing I CAN do is leave extremely detailed instructions that I’m *hoping* will make the cats like R so that they won’t be stressed.
I’m honestly not sure anymore if I’ve crossed the line from “conscientious and careful” to “insane helicopter person.”
Sigh. The fact that I’ve written 1400 words on my cat somewhat favors the latter I think…
Anyways. I guess i”m not really looking for advice so much as just an outlet to fully express my stress. There are some extended family dynamics at play that make me want to shield B from my stress as much as possible, so I think I just needed to get it “out there.” Hopefully I’ll be back in my next post on a much happier topic.