When I found out I was pregnant and decided I was going to become a mother, I researched and read and asked questions and tried to prepare myself for parenthood as best as humanly possible. Little did I know, what prepared me the most for parenthood is something I had been doing since I was five: pet ownership. It turns out, having a pet is exactly like having a kid, with a few (sometimes major) exceptions.
Yes, you can't leave your kid in a kennel and, yes, you probably don't want to put your pet through as many years of school as you'll inevitably put your kid, but the similarities between pet ownership and parenthood are pretty valid and oh-so real. Plenty of parents will tell you that there in no way alike, but I think a dog-mom is just as much as mother as a woman who has decided to raise a child. There are plenty of mothers who haven't birthed their own babies, so the fact that you can't carry and eventually bring your pet into the world the way you can a child, doesn't mean that you can't care for your pet in the same way. Is a pet as valuable as a human? I guess it depends on who the human is, right?!
In all seriousness, while having a kid isn't exactly the same as having a pet and the love you have for both will probably be different in a number of ways, the similarities are uncanny and admitting that being a pet owner is a lot like being a mother in no way shape or form means you're a bad parent or a crazy cat lady: it just means you have a lot of your life for both animals and humans and, well, you've probably attempted to care for both. So, with that said, here are just a few ways pet ownership and parenthood are the same:
I remember attempting to potty train (aka house break) our family dog vividly. It was an absolute pain and my bedroom always smelt like pee and poop and there were more accidents than I care to admit. Now that I'm in the middle of potty training my toddler, my bedroom always smells like pee and poop and there are more accidents than I care to admit. Honestly, I can't tell you which one is worse.
I couldn't leave my dog alone for a significant period of time without leaving water and food and giving him access to the backyard and probably being OK with coming home to a ruined couch and/or expensive pair of underwear. I can't leave my sone alone at all. Sure, a pet definitely gives you more freedom than a child does, but still, they both require your presence.
Obviously you shouldn't leave a child in a vehicle unattended like, at all, and I'd argue that the same could easily be said about a dog, regardless of how hot or cold it is outside. Still, you should never leave either in a car when it's in the middle of the summer and it's ridiculously hot outside. This is basic humanity 101, people.
My dog was easily the best dog, no questions asked. He was the cutest and the sweetest and the smartest and the most loyal and I didn't care if you disagreed because I knew this to be true. The same can be said for my child; he is the cutest and the sweetest and the smartest and just the best, and it doesn't matter if you disagree with me because I know this to be true. We all think our pets and/or our children are the best the world has to offer.
I will admit that I've Googled more about parenting than I ever did about dog or cat ownership, but it doesn't mean I haven't asked the internet to help me out as a responsible pet owner, either. I've searched some strange things regarding both my child and my pets (usually about poop or eating or more poop), so it's hard to differentiate sometimes.
I had my doubts as a pet owner and I certainly have my doubts as a mother. I think when you care for someone else, regardless of who or what that someone is, you tend to look inward and evaluate yourself and make sure that you really and truly are doing the best you absolutely can.
This is a pretty unsaid, obvious fact when it comes to the child, but it might not necessarily be for the pet. I, for one, consider our cat part of the family, and my family dog's death felt like a family member's death; I was that upset and devastated. Pets have an uncanny ability to be become part of the family, and you really do see them as children and yourself as their parent.
Everyone seems to have a damn opinion on everything, so of course pet ownership and parenting are not exempt. I was on the receiving end of unsolicited advice when I had a dog and then when I had a cat; listening to people tell me what they think I should do or purchase in order to be a "responsible pet owner," according to their definition and standards. The same happened (and continues to happen) now that I'm a mother. Everyone wants to let me know what I should do be doing and what I should be feeling and what I should be purchasing. It. Never. Ends.
Seriously, count how many pictures you post of your pet and then count how many pictures you post of your child. Or better yet, count how many pictures a child-free person posts of their pet and then count how many pictures a pet-free person posts of their child. Pretty even, right? Yep. It's pretty even.
I used to crawl into my puppy's cage at night, attempting to soothe him back to sleep when he would wake up in the middle night. I do the same with my son (sans cage, of course), now that he is sleeping in his own toddler bed. I go to him and soothe him to sleep. I definitely co-slept with my son much longer than I ever let my puppy sleep in my bed with me, but both can lay claim to having been in "mom's bed" so that they can sleep peacefully at night.
I love my pet and I love my son. The love I have for both, however, are definitely different. While I care for my cat and consider her a part of the family, if I was forced to choose between my cat and my kid, there wouldn't even be a choice. My son became priority numero uno the day he was born and, honestly, I think my cat understands.