Parents and Non-Parents from Different Planets?

Last week, Annie and Winnie were buddies. When we passed Winnie’s house on our walks, the tan and white Corgi would waddle up to us. I’d pet her long soft fur while the two dogs sniffed each other, and then Winnie would walk with us a ways up Cedar Street. It was nice.

This week Winnie attacked Annie, barking, growling, biting. My pooch didn’t know what hit her. It was motherhood. Winnie gave birth on Saturday. The young woman who came out with her was holding a puppy, the only one that survived the troubled delivery. Now Winnie was in full mom mode. I can’t blame her. She has one tiny puppy, and she’s going to protect it with everything she has. She also probably feels sick and sore. But Annie, a spayed virgin at 11 ½, did not understand. Why doesn’t my friend like me anymore?

Ever feel that way around your human friends? They give birth and suddenly they’re not as friendly to you. It’s all about the baby.

Which brings me to the story that keeps popping up in my Google alerts. Brace yourself before you read “Childless millennials should be banned from Disney World, tired mom rants.” It seems this mother went on a Facebook rant about how childless people should be banned from Disney World, that the theme park should be reserved for “families” with kids. Say what? If I haven’t reproduced, I don’t get to have fun like everybody else? I know this mom was tired and frustrated, but we all need to think before we post.

Years ago, I wrote a post about LEGOLAND, which only allows adults without children on certain all-adult nights. I would LOVE to go LEGOLAND. So would the couple in this article who have been struggling with infertility for nine years. Come on, people. Aren’t these parks supposed to be happy places?

I’m not sure I want to mention this, but here goes. I was at a conference last weekend. I decided to duck out of one of my evening workshops to take a swim. I checked the pool on the way to my room to change into my bathing suit. Nobody there. I looked forward to peacefully gliding through the water. When I returned, less than five minutes later, at 9:30 at night, the small indoor pool was crowded with six kids under the age of six and three parent people. They took up the whole danged pool, splashing around, shouting, oblivious to this older person who needed to get down the steps and swim a few laps. Oh, I swam, but it was no fun, and I was soon back in my room, sinking into a hot bath where I could soak in peace.

Like that mom at Disney World, I was tired and frustrated. Things are not going well with my father, and I can’t do anything about it. My stomach hurt. I was tired of sitting in over-air-conditioned meeting rooms listening to people talk about writing. And now the pool was so full of children who should have been in bed that I couldn’t enjoy my swim. If the parents had thought to say something like, “Move over so the nice lady can swim,” that would have been different, but I seemed to be invisible to them.

If I were a mom person, would I have enjoyed paddling around with the little guys? I don’t know. Like Annie suddenly attacked by her former friend, I just know sometimes parents and non-parents seem to live on different planets.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.




Bye bye, doggie

Alas, Halle the dog has gone back to the SafeHaven shelter. I guess I could say I failed as a dog parent, or perhaps she was a juvenile delinquent and I didn’t have the strength to straighten her out. I feel terrible.

I wonder if I care so much because I don’t have human children, only dogs. Without a dog, I feel lost. This dog was such a crazy, happy, loving creature, but I could not sit down or go to bed without having to constantly fight her off. When she wasn’t chewing up my things, she was jumping on me and chewing on me. It was like trying to sleep with an alligator in the room.

I tried all the techniques recommended by the experts. Put her in the crate, send her outside, regulate her food, knock her down every time she jumps, ignore her when she misbehaves, and limit the cuddling time so that she knows who’s “the momma dog.” That’s what the trainer who came to our house said I had to be, “the momma dog.”

Well, this momma dog can’t do the tough love thing.

My husband wants to get another dog right away. But like most dads, he wasn’t the one dealing with the bad behavior, trying to get this crazed animal to settle down at night, worrying about her food, her health, her need to go outside.

I need a break, time to stop grieving for my old friend Sadie, time to accept that Halle could not replace her. You don’t buy a new best friend for a hundred bucks and assume you’ll have the same kind of relationship. Let’s just think of this as a two-week visit by an unruly guest. We had some good times, but she had to go home. We were crying, but Halle actually seemed quite content back in her old cage.

By now, you’re asking, “How does this relate to childlessness?” I think many of us who don’t have children put all our parenting energies into our pets. But I can also compare this to trying to adopt a troubled teen without having raised a child from birth, without having had any input in his early years, without having the experience to know what to do when he turns on you.

A friend bought me an Easter lily because I was sad about losing my dog. Nobody has ever bought me a lily before. Lilies are what adult children buy for their aging mothers on Easter because they feel as if they have to buy them something. It makes me uncomfortable to see it sitting on the table.

This should be the last you’ll hear of Halle Berry the dog from me. I’ll get back to people issues next time, I promise.

But how about you? Have you put your mothering eggs in the dog or cat Easter basket, only to be disappointed? I’d love to hear your stories.