As a young girl, I had no interest in playing with dolls and fake babies. Chalk it up to being surrounded by three older brothers and reading 24/7, but I never felt any motherly stirrings. I always found the idea of gallivanting through the woods and playing fantastic make-believe preferable to hosting tea parties and rocking dolls to sleep. Growing up, I remember hearing peers gush over the youngsters they babysat and various homeschool mothers talk about how their teenaged daughters had always just wanted to settle down and be moms. I dismissed these comments as irrelevant to my own teenagedom and, on the whole, they were.
Now I’m twenty-two and married and acutely aware of the social expectations now surrounding my reproductive system—and annoyed that I’ve had to become acutely aware of such. I guess I’m fortunate insomuch that my spouse has no burning desire for progeny and, on the whole, neither do my in-laws nor my own parents. But I wonder how attitudes will shift in ten years—will my mother be telling people about how my biological clock is ticking the same way she talks now about thirty-something women?
I don’t like kids. Really, I don’t like any human being that’s not at least, say, ten years old. I don’t think this means I’m some sort of child-hating Scrooge, but it means I have zero interest in holding babies, cooing over how cute toddlers are, and playing games with kids. I’m endlessly frustrated that I am expected to have such interests—that I am supposed to want nothing more than to hold my brother’s baby or try to make stilted conversation with my husband’s young first cousins once removed. And there’s never a chance to say otherwise before I’m haplessly holding a baby or agreeing with someone that their kid is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Not only should you not ask people when they plan on having kids, but you should not expect people to be falling over themselves to hold a baby or play with small children. I never said I liked kids! Please don’t assume I do!
But I have said I like ferrets. A lot. Andrew and I recently adopted a bonded pair of young ferrets from a ferret shelter in Battle Creek. World, please meet our darling baby girls, Roz Doyle and Daphne Moon.
As tempted as I am to spend the rest of this post gushing over my girls, I won’t be that sort of parent because, well, I know how annoying those parents can be….
Ferret parenting comes with many of the same perils as being a human parent. Everyone has an opinion about what is best for someone else’s ferrets, from food to toys to hygiene. While I do take the stance that there are general “best practices” for ferret care, the amount of conflict and strife arising from ferret Facebook groups and Discord channels is comical at best and frustrating at worst. I can’t see myself ever having the fortitude to weather the storm of human parenting advice and opinions, so I commend those of you who do.
I love my two little carpet sharks with all of my heart, but being a ferrant is exhausting. Instead of having nice sit-down breakfasts and lunches together like we used to, my husband and I have to spend our mornings watching the ferrets while gulping down some scrambled eggs before rushing off to work or class. Repeat for lunch break. Repeat for the first couple hours of the evening. The ferrets throw tantrums when they have to go back in their cage because we’re busy, and they like to poop wherever they please and tear up their litter box pads. They are energetic and high maintenance and extremely stubborn. They are furry assholes, albeit cute furry assholes.
So after a good month of being a ferrant, I still feel absolutely no motherly premonitions. If anything, I find myself even more unexcited at the thought of being an actual parent. It’s stressful and tiring enough to take care of two pets; the thought of having to take care of an actual human baby both terrifies and repulses me. Not to mention expensive. I have to budget a $2000 emergency fund for the ferrets; I have no idea how parents budget for children.
But rest assured, if I am still childless in ten years, I will not be moping around about how my biological clock is winding down nor secretly pining after a child of my own. I’ll probably be too busy taking care of ferrets or traveling to cool places with my husband. I’m okay with that, and my mother and everyone else should be okay with it too. For now, I’m content to only think about ferrets instead of children.