The mothering instinct

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies

There was a time not so long ago when I would've taken in pretty much any animal in need of a home that I came across. I ended up with a cat that way. I almost ended up with another dog that way, and almost ended up with another cat that way.

Living near the park it was inevitable that I should come across so many strays animals, and those who were dumped by people who no longer wanted them to fend for themselves. Like many of us who live near the park or work in or near the park, we come across such animals frequently, and they temporarily take up residence in our homes.

I used to be one of those people. Even though I had two dogs and a cat I could at least overnight or for a few days hold on to an animal while pals at the ASPCA and elsewhere tried to drum up interest in adoption. Those days, I'm afraid, are now over, for me at least.

Now that I am a mother the mothering instinct in me is stronger than ever. I see animals as even more vulnerable and in need of care than I ever did. Conversely, I can't take them into my home, even temporarily.

That's a really difficult decision to make for me, as someone who has always loved and protected animals. With a brand new baby at home, and living as I do with other pets in a rather small space--one that is full of hair and dander and goodness knows what else that I can't see even though I spend an exorbitant amount of time cleaning--it's just not possible for me to take in these animals any longer.

Recently I had to make such a decision regarding some newborn kittens. There were three of them, so new two of them hadn't even opened their eyes. They would have required my full attention and round the clock bottle feeding and care, the kind a vet tech would need to give, but that I could not.

Eventually someone offered to take the one that seemed the healthiest. I don't know what happened to the other two, and I really don't want to know. I feel badly about the situation, but it's one I've faced before and will face again. As much as I want to help, I simply don't have the attention or the resources to take in any more animals.

On another occasion as we were approaching a bookstore on a busy street I noticed a small bird hobbling along. It had come from out of nowhere, as if it had fallen right next to me. It's leg was clearly broken and it wasn't going to make it unless something was done. It did not appear to be in good health. I followed the directions from a friend at the ASPCA and gave it someplace quiet and safe to hide and eventually, probably, die.

That was the most I could do. It was a wild animal and a bird, and I know nothing of caring for either of those things, as much as I wanted to.

Being a parent is all sorts of things, and it means making decisions you wouldn't have before you had kids, or making decisions you didn't know you could make. In my heart I want to scoop up every hurt or unwanted animal I meet and take care of them, but I know I can't.

Luckily I do have a contact at the ASPCA to help out with those things, and there are vets and other places in the city that will still accept animals and try to rehabilitate them. I point the people with the animals and the animals themselves in such directions in the hopes that I can help them in that way.

I can't wait until my son is old enough to start bringing stray animals home and asking to keep them! It will be harder than ever to say no, and I bet at least once I cave. What about you? What would or did you do when your child brings home a new "pet?"

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.