I’ve decided I want to be a stay-at-home pet mom. An SAHPM, to adjust the seemingly beloved abbreviation a little (and to show that I know about stuff on the Internet). I’ve given it some thought (while waiting for the fancy coffee maker at work to reward me with a caffeinated concoction—a reasonable amount of time, I feel), and decided it would be in the best interest of all involved. My companion animals, I’m sure, would be thrilled to have me around all the time. As it is, when I leave for work in the mornings, they all give me that look of longing that says, “Why do other moms get to stay home all day with their babies? You refer to us as your babies and yet we’re somehow not important enough?” Or something to that effect. After all, one minute they’re contentedly receiving tummy rubs and all is well with the world, and the next they’re being ushered away and left to fend for themselves (in our tiny home, with full bowls and empty beds).
Possibly I’m reading too much into their confused little faces as I scoot them away to clear a path to the door. And while I know the cats aren’t thrilled to have someone else dictate the duration of cuddle time, it’s really only the dog who obviously watches me walk out the door. She’s not afraid to be honest with me. The cats, on the other hand, are much more emotionally manipulative, each choosing a different method to dole out a guilt trip.
The seemingly happy-go-lucky one shrugs it off and moves on to chasing something he managed to knock off the table. Meanwhile, the quietly demanding one carries out her sulking curled up on a favorite cushion. They both make it painfully clear; it’s the feline version of the resigned little kid in Jerry Maguire: “Go ahead and go.”
So, to avoid breaking their hearts—and mine—every (weekday) morning, I see no alternative but to stay. Isn’t it my responsibility as a pet mom to be there for every noise that must be barked at, every nap that starts on a chair in one room, then adjusts, moves onto a bed, relocates to another room…pauses to try out the sofa for a bit, stretches out, curls up, swats at some invisible foe, settles down for two minutes, then starts the whole process again? Shouldn’t I be there not only when my little dude wakes me up at 5, announcing his hunger with increasingly frantic meows and gentle-yet-determined pats on the cheek, but also for any comparable urgent matters? Who does he voice his complaints to if I’m not there? Certainly neither of his companions would care (and let’s face it, as smart as they are, without opposable thumbs they would prove to be of little help anyway). And that’s not even taking into consideration the significantly extended snuggling time and potential for multiple walks in one day. (I swear my dog read my mind as I wrote this—as she always does when I start thinking about a walk—and looked at me expectantly. I’d definitely have her vote.) Now, to convince my husband…