On Mother’s Day in recent years, I’ve noticed a strange trend that only seems to gain traction every year – it is the celebration of the pet mum.
The pet mum, also known as the fur mum, has never had children, either through choice or circumstance and treats her dog or cat like a child.
Multiple posts appear on social media on Mother’s Day proclaiming that “my kids have paws”, or “happy dog mum’s day”.
But I’d like to point out that mothering is a hard job that should not be undermined so that fur mums don’t get their feelings hurt.
A person calling themselves a fur mum is kind of cute and I understand that for someone who couldn’t have their own child a pet can ease that pain.
But last week when I received a press release asking to officially recognise pet mums on Mother’s Day, I could feel my eyes begin to roll back in my head.
The release said that pet mums care for their fur babies like humans and we should expand the scope of mother’s day to include anyone with a fur baby.
I’m not against fur parents having their own day, but it should be on a different day to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Ignoring the fact that dogs treated like children are generally badly behaved and anxious, Mother’s Day was officially recognised in the 1900s to honour the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
Children were encouraged to write letters of gratitude to their mothers and visit their mother on this day.
I have a dog and a cat who I love very much, my cat has provided me with emotional support through break-ups, moving house and post-natal depression.
During times when it was hard to love a new baby, my cat was easy to love and would calm difficult emotions.
But I’ve never had to make sacrifices for my dog and cat and they are the reason why I know that mothering a child and being a pet owner are different.
As every mother, stepmother and adoptive mother know – bonding with a child is difficult.
There’s a reason that many women are now remaining childless by choice.
When you get a pet you get the one that best suits you.
When a child comes into your life it means labouring in great pain for hours, or going through a desperate and emotionally draining adoption process or getting into a relationship with someone who already has a child and dealing with resentment and heartbreaking comments like “you’re not my real mum”.
Long story short, sometimes children can be hard to love.
The relationship between mother and child can be intensely complicated and fraught with angst. In comparison the relationship with a pet is easy.
Children are also hard to care for. The cat needs feeding once a day and a monthly flea and worm treatment.
Ditto the dog, but add a weekly bath and a daily walk. They both stay at home while we’re at work and are happy as long as they have access to the backyard and each other.
I can’t leave my children at home all day while I’m at work. I can’t drop them at the kennels while I go on holiday. I can’t give them away because I’m moving house or they bit someone.
I can’t feed them a $20 bag of biscuits every week.
A badly brought up dog might pee on the carpet, a badly brought up child becomes a menace to society who terrorises old ladies and graffitis buses.
But the biggest difference between being a pet mum and a real mum is this – if you don’t really like your dog or cat it’s okay, because you can rehome them.
If you don’t really like your child, joke’s on you – that kid is going to be around until you die.