Thursday, September 29, 2016

NO I Don't Have Pets - A Mum's Journey to Independence!

Everyone I know has pets. The highest number right now in terms of my personal friends are dog owners. Second comes cat owners. That is followed by those who love reptiles, birds and more.  Yes, there is an "AND MORE".

My journey with pets has been long. Often times  it was filled with those that needed a home whether it was a good idea or not - a cat from a monastery in Big Sur that was abandoned and would be eaten by local predators, a bird molting in a cage in a local store that I added to a happy pair. It proceeded to torture the other two. You get the idea. I have a hard time saying no to any suffering animal.

I've always had a soft spot for pets of every type, including reptiles. Before marriage I had a dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, birds and more.  Bugs are a different story. Although there are a few such as all varieties of stick bugs and amazing giant centipedes, the list is short here. However, at this point in my life I try to avoid pets of any kind. What led me to this? There are just a few simple reasons.

When I married and moved to Canada I ended up becoming a stay-at-home mum. As someone who started babysitting at an early age and always worked, that was a big change. It took all my focus for over 15 years of my life. That said, I wouldn't trade that time for anything.

We were told our chances of conceiving were only 15% and needed to go for it without interference to give ourselves the best chance. Fortunately, we defied the huge odds. We welcomed three kids in 3-1/2 years.  I breast fed, changed diapers and did the school thing non-stop for a very long time. There was very little me time. My job didn't earn me a lot of support. Every time I was asked what I did and responded being a stay-at-home mum, I got THAT LOOK!

Honestly, my kids were bullied and finances were tight. This was the hardest job I have EVER worked. It was fabulous, challenging, amazing and depressing.  Through it all I had to find a way to keep my mind challenged and myself intact. I needed to find me in the chaos.

Every stay at home mum has moments that are off the chart amazing and others where we sit and cry, but for me it was all worth it. My husband and I have three amazing, independent and totally unique kids. Hold on to your hats world - they are out there making their mark!

As my kids grew, they all acquired smaller pets. I didn't want to have to walk anything - I was busy enough - so that limited our choices. We had garter snakes, a Bearded Dragon, mice, hamsters and a guinea pig.  All my kids had the best intentions, but as I was the one at home while they were at school and participating in after school activities, I was the one most of the daily care fell to. And I loved each and every one of those crazy pets.



What was hard for me was the parting. At one point I discovered you weren't allowed to domesticate Garter snakes. You could kill them, torture them or dispose of them, but they couldn't be pets.  When I turned our pet Garter snake over to the Richmond Nature Park I cried for three days - the only family member to do so. Another time a guinea pig had a tumor and we were leaving on vacation. No one wanted to care for a sick pet. I was the one who had to take him to the vet to be put down. The tears wouldn't stop.

Then there was my oldest son's Bearded Dragon. We discovered Bearded Dragons at a Boy Scout event. They were billed as very calm and easy to keep take care of. Max, as he came to be known, was amazing. However, I remember when my son was out of town and Max seemed to be dying, I was the one who sat late into the night with him snuggled on my chest. holding him to let him know he was loved. He ended up recovering. I would like to think it was my personal touch. When he finally did pass, it was a particularly hard time for me. I was invested.

So for this moment, I chose to take a break. For this moment I chose to focus on my needs and wants - my goals. I'm ready for a break. No pets to feed, no dinners I have to cook as all of my brood is very capable. If I want to fly the coop for 2 weeks, it doesn't require any organizing. And  I do it without apology. I know eventually in my future I will again welcome new pets to my home, but for now it's about me.

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