How’s The View From That High Horse?

Because I think you’re missing the details. While you throw accusations of insensitivity at me you’re stomping on sacred ground.

And don’t you dare try to offer me your comfort and sympathy now. You don’t deserve the warm and fuzzy feelings of that. Yes, I dared to state that pets aren’t the same as children. That was so very harsh of me. Do you need a safe space?

That’s cute. You’re going to lecture me on how hard Mother’s Day is for some people. Did it ever occur to you that I may be one of those people? Oh that’s right, you can’t see past your sanctimony. You can trot right on out on that high horse of yours.

Complicated. Yeah. I’m supposed to play your silly games and pretend that your love for your dog is equal to my grief for the child I lost before they ever took a breath. On Mother’s Day, I might add.

I hear you, just scroll past and ignore it if it bothers you that much. I see how well that worked out for you. No, you decided I must need to be informed and educated and put in my place. Here’s your freaking medal.

As if I could compare stroking my cat’s fur as he breathed his last to my friend that held her child’s hand as she lost her battle to cancer. That would monstrous. I’d be a terrible human being for even hinting at such.

Right. I’m insensitive. I’m a horrible person.

Why don’t you go ahead and explain how insensitive I am to the 85-year-old woman I held as she made the heart-wrenching decision to turn off her daughter’s life support? Indeed, she took great solace in caring for the cats her daughter left behind, but she’d trade them all for another moment with her daughter.

Go on. I’ll wait.

Emerson, the cat, came into our lives during a period of intense turmoil, and he was and still is a source of tremendous comfort. I needed to nurture something. I needed the unconditional love in return and he gave it and then some. He continues to do so today. He has been there for more of my ugly sobbing than I care to get into. It would be doing him an injustice to treat him as a replacement for a child. He’s no surrogate. He’s far more sensitive than you, actually.

Some day, far sooner than I’ll be ready, he’ll be gone. It’s my job and responsibility to make sure that process goes as peacefully and painlessly as possible. I will weep. The grief will be intense and include more of those ugly sobs.

Trust me, I get it that our pets can bring great comfort and solace in the face of pain and difficulty. That relationship is wonderful, special, and not the same as parenthood. Funny how no one seems to have noticed that I didn’t even say it was less. I only said it was different.

Am I a good person? Well my dog thinks so, anyway. My real friends do to. Me? Well, I try to be. Really, I think that’s all any of us can do.

13 thoughts on “How’s The View From That High Horse?”

  1. Agree 100%.

    I give, generally, zero credence to those who regularly and sincerely anthropomorphize. I love our animals, but I am not “Dad” to them. I am the guy who makes sure there is money for food and for vet care and who takes them for walks and plays with them.

    I’ve never cheered for them at a Little League baseball game. I’ve never helped them with their homework. I’ve never taken them to a Daddy-Daughter dance. I’ve never stayed up late at night worrying about a date they were on. I’ve never held them in my arms and consoled them when they broke up with a boyfriend/girlfriend. I’ll never walk them down the aisle for a wedding and they’ll never be able to stand up and say a few words about “Dad” when I ultimately leave this world for good.

    It does not diminish my love nor commitment for our companion animals, but it most certainly differentiates that love and commitment from that of what we have for our children.

    And that is the difference for us.


  2. Well said. And I am so very sorry for your loss.

    I am one of those who, by virtue of some of the choices I’ve made and the paths I’ve taken, will not have children to raise in this lifetime. It is what it is, but I would never mistake the pets that I have had (or may one day have again) as a substitute for the child that I will never have.

  3. Holy cow. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child at any stage of its life. But I’m not clear on how anyone can say that having a pet makes up for that loss. It’s two completely different types of relationships.

  4. We rescued a dog about 7 years ago. He is a big part of our family and we care for him very much, however, there is no comparison between the way we love him and the way we love our daughter.

    I saw a lot of the ‘Fur-Mommies’ Mother’s Day Facebook posts as well. I don’t quiet understand how people can compare raising a cat / dog to raising a child.
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  5. Beautiful.

    Jennifer, we’ve never met (have we?) but I’ve long admired your work. This post might have been written from a place of anger and annoyance, but there’s a deep love that shines through it as well. Thank you for being willing to put yourself out there like that.

  6. I lost a child to depression and suicide last year. it might not be one of my better moments if someone compared that to the death of a cat.

  7. I just came across this post. Thank you. I saw those pet mom posts on Mother’s Day and felt my anger grow as I saw my wife grieve again over pains from long ago. We love our house animal, but he will never replace the littles ones we held and lost. Being Catholic we face judgment frequently from our co-religionists too ignorant to realize that not all children are living.

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