All three of my cats think they're human. Maybe it's because we've had them since they were itty-bitty kittens found clinging to life in a drain pipe. Maybe it's because we've spoiled them absolutely rotten. Maybe it's because they're cats and they simply think they own the place anyway. Regardless, all three of my cats (Piper, Zoey and Lucy) see no issue with climbing into bed with us, attempting to sit next to us on a dining room chair as we eat as a family, or plant themselves firmly on the couch with us as we watch TV.
Obviously I love my little furbabies. I'm a die-hard animal lover who has fostered more than 70 of them since moving to Jersey in 2007. I've spent sleepless nights nursing them back from the brink of death, I've cried over heartbreaking medical prognoses, and I even carried Zoey around in a sling - directly next to me or sitting on my work desk - for more than a month as her legs healed from a terrible accident.
That all being said, I still do not place these three cuddle-balls into the same arena as Vincent or Myla. I love my cats - to the point of stupid - but I don't place human dignity on their shoulders.
Should a fire break out and I'm forced to save Vince or Lucy, I'm going to save Vince. When someone asks me how many children I have, I don't list Vince, Myla and then my three cats.
Yet the Pope's recent message to married couples about having children (and not pets) apparently ruffled more than a few feathers. Even in the comments of the linked article, people who supposedly "loved" the Pope turned their nose up in disgust at this particular message.
Given the amount of couples opting for pets vs. children these days, it's no surprise some would walk away from his remarks feeling called out.
Now, before I continue, no one (I repeat - NO ONE) is calling out infertile couples, couples struggling with serious chromosomal issues, or even couples who are truly not called to be parents (and I do believe there is a very small population of people who are simply not meant to be parents).
The pope is, however, calling out folks who are seeking to continue a life of self-centered irresponsibility.
Adults don't make children; children make adults. This is so incredibly true. After all, nothing says "responsibility" like taking on the care of someone wholly dependent on you for everything (every moment, of every day).
This sort of responsibility shapes a person and forces him/her to see the world from another's perspective. It demands sacrifice. It demands COMPLETE sacrifice.
In our culture, this level of self-sacrifice is avoided like the Plague. Having a baby will ruin weekend plans for, like... ever, right? And who wants to deal with sleepless nights, potty training and vomit in your hair?
I know you guys have seen me write about this a billion times, so I'm going to try really hard not to beat the dead horse, but I'm just so incredibly sick of children being seen as roadblocks to happiness.
They're not. They are happiness and love personified (in the truest sense of the word).
No amount of pet-responsibility comes close to that which a human child presents. I should know. I've had more than my share of pets, and not one (not even Zoey) compares to a child. That being said, not one of the 70+ animals that have come through my doors have helped me to grow as a person the way that Vincent has. Not one has given me fulfillment in the way that Vincent has. Not one animal has given me joy, happiness and love in the way that Vincent has. And not one has deepened my relationship with God in the way that Vincent has.
So no - for all those folks out there who want to run around claiming Fido is your child, just stop. The only people who think its cute are those who, themselves, are terrified of taking on responsibility for future generations.
As you can see, I talk to my cats (I'll have full-on conversations with them), I love my cats, and I consider them "furbabies" because they have me wrapped around their adorable little paws, but again... they're no substitute for children. Yet so many couples use them as the "next step" in their marriage... as if keeping a goldfish alive is somehow proving grounds for their ability (and desire) to parent.
It's just... ay.
It's incredible to me that society has created this sort of mindset regarding children. I really am baffled by it.
I know not all people are as desirous of children as I am, but to substitute pets as a realistic replacement???
The pope is right on this. Married couples who want to solidify their sacramental marriage would do best to allow their love to create a tangible symbol of that love - truly personified - that not only grows and changes with them through the years, but HELPS them grow, change and love more deeply than they ever thought possible.
After all, that's what marriage is all about. White dresses, cake, toasts and favors are temporary. Creating a person (and with that person, a soul) is forever. That child will FOREVER be a lasting testament to your love. Forever.
Fido, Sparky or Chuckles will never be able to claim that.
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