Saturday, April 27, 2013

Motherhood is Where You Find It

There are plenty of headlines at the moment about motherhood -- how to enjoy it, how to manage it and who is about to join that group.

As usual during Springtime, lots of women seem to be pregnant. Everyone from celebrities to Kate Middleton are among the new recruits. "Baby bumps" (a phrase which I loathe for its stupidity) are springing up everywhere. On a local TV new station, both of the co-anchors are several months pregnant.

Earlier this week former President Bill Clinton even remarked on the subject. At the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, Clinton remarked that Bush had won the contest of which would be the first to become a grandfather.

Mother's Day is about to roll around again. Don't forget to buy a gift, send a card or plan a family event.

But for those of us who never got on the baby bandwagon, all is not lost. There are plenty of other ways to channel all that affection.

Having pets, for instance.

Like lots of other people, I never caught the fever for having children. I was married very young and we were far too busy to think about having children. Marital problems appeared on the scene within a couple of years. By then I was fairly certain that if children did come along, I was likely to be a single mother with plenty of demands and little emotional support to help along the way.

Then I began teaching school. At the time, there was a saying among teachers that if you wanted to have children, you'd better do it soon. After a few years of runny noses and behavior problems, teachers would never have children of their own. For the most part, this saying proved insightful. Teaching friends did have children early in their careers while others of us watched peacefully from the sidelines.

While my friends all fretted over little league, scouts, school programs, orthodontia, skinned knees and many concerns during the early years, I was traveling down a different path. Dinner with friends, filling my closet with clothes, career advancement, and social events may seem selfish and shallow, but they were what appealed to me and proved nice alternatives.

Then it was whether their kids would learn to drive, get asked out, get pregnant, get into college or drop out entirely. I listened to as these woes were confronted, as any friend would, but couldn't help but be glad that I had chosen a different route through life.

Now my friends are becoming grandparents. Grandparents! They seem eager to show photos, discuss the baby's birth weight, dietary needs and diaper changes. They can't know how uninteresting these matters are to others. Other grandparents drawn into such conversations remain quiet, anxiously awaiting a lull in dialogue so that they can interject their own grandchildren stories and data.

I witness this all the time. Grandparents -- who are supposed to be enjoying retirement and pursuits of their own -- are wildly running around caring for the grand kiddies. Not occasionally visiting, as I recall with my own grandparents, but involvement which is both continual and feverish. Somehow the grandparents' roles have spun out of control.

As for those of us who didn't want or couldn't have children, things are continuing on as usual. We make our own plans and set our own schedules. Of course, sometimes the kitties or doggies (or hamsters, birds or other critters) have their demands and alter the schedule. But it all seems terribly manageable and loving.

My two pets are five-year-old Max and one-year-old Tesla. They are plenty to keep me on my toes and seem to enjoy our little arrangement. They don't ask for cell phones, keys to the car or need to borrow money and seem content with a few treats and pampering, of course.

It's never too late to find a pet companion. There are plenty of animals in need of love who will gladly return the favor.

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