I’ve had pets for as long as I can remember until last year when my last of three cats died.
Now I am often asked if I have gotten a new one or will be getting one soon. Usually it is fellow animal lovers and pet owners who ask; because most of my friends and acquaintances are either pet owners or they have had pets and love animals. They are quite eager to point out the advantages of having a pet, especially a cat, to try to help me decide and remind me of the numerous pets available for adoption at shelters. Of course I know they are trying to help both me and another animal, but it is very much like asking a mother whose children are away from home, either in college, living with a partner or on their own if they are going to start another family.
God designed the female body to cease child bearing in their middle years for a reason. Few would have the stamina necessary to raise babies again and it is very likely that we would leave them orphaned before they were old enough to take care of themselves. Yes, some do start new families because the empty nest syndrome is more stressful, and they may adopt older children, but many women see this as a time when they can finally concentrate on themselves.
Most mothers put their family’s needs above their own. When they shop, they buy their food before our own. They take care of their medical needs and ignore their own. They plan their lives around them. They can’t take a vacation unless they can take them with, board them or have someone sit them. If they can’t afford these services, or don’t know people who would do it for free, they don’t take the vacations. They try to be home at same time daily because we know their family will be expecting dinner then. They will buy them toys for entertainment rather than spend money entertaining themselves. Those are just some examples that come to my mind.
Pet owners, especially those who are childless and have remained single have the same relationship with their pets. They bring out our mothering instincts and become a substitute family. We treat them as mothers do their children.
Once a woman’s children are grown and on their own, she now realizes that she has the time to take care of herself, and she needs to because she won’t be able to expect her children to take care of her. She has more money to spend on herself; she becomes more aware of her physical needs without the needs of the children taking her attention. She can come and go more freely. If she is married, she can devote more attention to her husband. She can spend more time hanging out with friends. She is able to take vacations.
This also applies to those of us who have become pet-less. Although it is easier to go and get another pet than for a woman to have more children, or even adopt more children, and while pets do not live as long and even a senior citizen like myself might outlive another pet, there are the advantages to not having one to consider as well. So, do not find it odd if I choose to live out the rest of my life really alone. Like memories of deceased relatives, my pets will always be with me in spirit and thinking about the good times I had with them will make me happy.