Let me preface this post with this: I can’t even go five minutes into a family party with out somebody asking me when I’m going to start “popping them out.” Popping them out? I’m pretty set on not having kids, thanks for asking, so for you to just infer that I’m going to, and then pluralize it, kind of makes me kind of hate you.
Ok, now on to my story:
I was at my sister’s house and her friend was over. They were having a mommy-play date of sorts, and I was just stopping by. I haven’t seen my sister’s friend since before I got married, which is almost a year ago; so naturally, we went through the whole “what have you been up to” spiel. Then, the dreaded question came a long, “So, any babies in your future?” And if the conversation stopped after me saying no, I’d be ok, but it never does. Like ever.
“No, we’re not having kids.”
“No?!…” she exclaimed, looking at me like I told her I was into Satanism. It appeared as if she was going to inquire further, so I cut her off.
“Nope!” I chirped back, “But we’re getting a puppy in October!”
My sister chimes in, “Do you know how much work that puppy is going to be?!”
[Hand to forehead, looks down, shakes head] Now, hold the phone. Weren’t you guys just asking me when I was going to start having children? Children: The 24/7/365, rest of my life responsibility, one wrong turn and they could be psychologically scarred life event? But now you’re questioning my decision in getting a dog.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time the topic of children has come up so nonchalantly, and in the same conversation, my choice in owning a puppy so overly criticized. Thus my question arises: Society, how isn’t this the other way around? Since when is owning a puppy and raising a child equal parallels of responsibility?
Doesn’t that sound kind of nuts? Listen, my husband and I talk. We have discussions like every other couple. We talked about having/not having kids until we were both blue in the face. Even when the other didn’t want to talk about it any more, we still pushed the button until we were both satisfied with the answer. Having a dog, despite the responsibility, was a no-brainer. We love dogs, we grew up with dogs and we’re dog people. We fully understand what goes into getting a puppy and raising it to be a trained, obedient, well-socialized dog. A dog we can leave at home for up to eight hours by itself, a dog we can temporarily ignore if we’re busy doing something else, a dog… Listen, it’s a fucking dog. I’m not its mommy; the dog isn’t my daughter nor is she my sister’s dog’s cousin, or whatever the fuck dog people do to personify their pet. It’s a pet. I will love it, say I love you, and even call it pet names like baby, but never will it actually be my baby. You see there is a clear difference between one and the other.
Point being, never have I heard asked to an adult couple who announces that they are having or thinking about having children if they truly understand the responsibility involved. That just doesn’t happen. Society congratulates those making the big leap into parent-hood. My husband and I traipse across the line that is the social norm, I suppose, fairly often, so I guess we should be used to most folks being surprised that we don’t want kids. What I don’t understand is how having a dog and having a kid is somehow equal. I really just don’t see it that way.
In fact, why I need to write about something like this is just nuts. Seriously, the topic of this post is a walk into crazy town if you ask me, but it’s a for real thing, and I’ve had more than a couple conversations like the one above. Somebody tell me that’s weird.