Thoughts on Action
"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live." ~ Nicolas de Chamfort

Why Do I Have to Coo at Your Baby When You Won’t Pet My Cat?

For those without kids, is there anything scarier in this world than someone showing up at work, mid-maternity leave, to show off the new baby? I’ll admit, when I heard those stroller wheels clacking down the halls at my old work, I did a legger to the bathroom more than once. Take Your Kids to Work Day and Halloween (when my company hosted Trick-or-Treating through the cubicle aisles) often found me cowering under my desk, or feigning extreme urgency – rushing off to fictitious meetings or picking up a non-ringing phone to engage in an I-can’t-be-bothered-now argument.

I suffer a certain level of guilt over this and often wonder how would it feel if I were in their shoes and someone did this to me? But oh wait – I sort of already know. Because people ignore the fact that my cats exist all the time. Am I miffed? No. Some people aren’t pet people. If they’re not interested, they’re not interested – why would I ever want them to pretend to be? Especially if the cats are just sleeping or eating, which comprises about 99.9% of their day. But if Jacques wants to join us in a game of flip cup…

…or tries to steal a sip of someone’s Merlot…

 …or Olivia attempts a desperate escape up the screen door…

…well, then I’d probably expect our guest to pay them some attention.

Similarly, if someone’s baby is wearing some cute Kate Spade flats or spouting stock tips like the e-Trade baby, I’m likely to take notice. But if the baby – which, by the way, looks remarkably like every other baby I’ve ever seen – is just passed out or drooling on itself…why is it necessary to shower them with compliments? Is the self-esteem of the baby in jeopardy?

No, I don’t think so. In fact, their understanding of compliments is probably equal to that of a cat’s. So it’s for the parents’ benefit – they want their babies to be noticed. And for those of us without kids, pets are our babies. So why is it acceptable to act as if someone’s pets don’t exist, but if you try the same with a baby, your heart must be made entirely of coal?

Think about it – if you run into a friend walking their German Shepherd on the Strand and neglect to pat its head, your friend is likely to continue their walk without a second thought. But ignore a baby in a stroller when you run into a Mommied acquaintance? You may as well be cast as the villain in the next Batman movie, so vile are you.

I’m not asking for equal treatment of pets and babies. Good grief, that would be insane.

Can you imagine if the Pet People started sending birth announcements when we adopt a new furball – touting pounds, ounces and breed? Or registering at Petsmart and asking our girlfriends to throw us a party with a three-tiered litterbox cake? Or dressing our Chihuahuas in little Ralph Lauren velour track suits?

No! Let the babies have that, all of that. All I ask is that we not be vilified for choosing to focus our attention on the mother (whom we likely haven’t seen in a while and can actually hold a conversation with) instead of cooing at a baby who has no idea who we are and will never remember the incident anyways. And in return, I promise to continue not caring when someone ignores the cats, to not fish for compliments about their lustrous coats and lengthy whiskers, and to not insist that people gather them up in a cuddly embrace.

Deal? Probably not, but a girl’s gotta try.

31 Responses to Why Do I Have to Coo at Your Baby When You Won’t Pet My Cat?

  • Rachel says:

    Ha ha!!! This post is hilarious! There isn’t anything specific I can comment on because I agree with it all! Thanx for the laugh and good thoughts. :)

  • Kallie3000 says:

    I guess I should stop requiring people at my house to love and pet and generally entertain my dog, eh? Because I do… Oh my god, I am going to be one of ‘those’ mothers!!!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      The only way I’m able to stop myself from doing it is imagining the shoe on the other foot and thinking how I’d feel being forced to interact with kids!

  • Mattomic says:

    I kind of like the idea of the three-tiered litterbox cake. :)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I must admit, I made myself laugh out loud when I envisioned that one. Maybe for the cat’s next birthday…

  • kylie says:

    yup our animals sure are our babies. we take our cat with us when we head away on holiday we have aholiday home and he comes with us i caouldn’t imagine it any other way yet people seem surprised that we take him with us. He is part of our family and holidays just wouldn’t be the same without him.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      The only reason I’m surprised you take him with you is that my cats would never consent to regular travel – yours must be much better behaved!

  • Basketcase says:

    My last boss’ neice (who also worked for us) had a baby last year. She kept coming in to visit, and EVERY time the ladies would go gaga over the baby.
    I just stayed at my desk and kept working, saying Hi to the mum as she wandered around, and talking explicitly to her when the conversation moved away from the baby.
    I have no idea what she thought, but I suspect she didn’t like it and probably complained to her aunty. Actually, that probably explains why the boss didn’t like me any more by the time I left… Oh well.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yes, it’s also funny how sometimes you’re the only one doing any actual work during that time, but yet, you’re still the bad guy. Oh well!

  • Allie says:

    When one of my ex coworkers came back to the area to visit, she stopped in the store to say hi. With her, she had her 5 year old son and her newborn son. Everyone was going bananas over the infant, who wasn’t doing anything. I don’t even remember if he was awake. I looked at him and said “…yep, he looks just like (5 yr old’s name) when he was a baby. Are you sure he’s not a clone?” She laughed, cuz she knows I’m not a baby person. Meanwhile, her older son is trying desperately to get some attention. He wasn’t acting out, he was just trying to be part of the conversation, but everyone was ignoring him. Finally I turned to him and started asking him about pre-school, and his summer, and the new house. Kids are more interesting than babies. They can talk about stuff. I felt bad for the poor guy.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      It was good of you to do that – I must admit, I’d actually rather coo at a baby than try and think of conversation topics for anyone under the age of 16. I’m terrible with kids once they get to a speaking age!

      • Allie says:

        Don’t think too highly of me. My tolerance level is still only about 15 minutes. It seems about that time they start repeating themselves and wanting you to play dolls or race cars or something. Get back to me when you’re old enough to jam on Rock Band, like my cousins, and we’re good.

  • Dowager Lady says:

    I agree with the awkwardness that is the returning coworker with a new baby. It happened recently at my job as well, and I quickly ran out of things to say about the sleeping bag of almost-person. Yes, he was very cute, but that doesn’t go so far when talking to other people.

    Now pets? I could talk about them all day. And, if given the opportunity, I often do.

  • AmyJane says:

    ever seen this site? Truly, a sobering read. Or…it might make you want to get drunk. Tout de suite.

  • AmyJane says:
    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I’ve heard of it, but have not yet visited it. I think I need to devote an entire day to reading through this and shaking my head. You can bet there will be a blog post coming about it as soon as I’m finished – thanks for passing along!

  • Scott says:

    Very cute gatos. Red wine would only be appropriate for dark cat food, of course.

    (One reason cats are better than babies: put up photos of your baby drinking booze and see what happens.)

  • Tory says:

    This cracks me up. I feel the same way you do, and I’m not much for holding babies either, which everyone in the world seems to think is strange. We were at a family (in-laws) event a few weeks ago and my husband’s cousin had his baby there. Everyone kept asking me, “Do you want to hold the baby?” And you know they ask you in that way where it sounds like they’re still talking TO THE BABY. Singsongy, baby talky. No, I don’t want to hold the baby, thank you. Yes, she’s quite pretty, I just don’t wanna.

    I’m totally sending out a “birth announcement” for the next dog I adopt.

  • Hanna says:

    I’m CF, but I have to admit that I will probably be obnoxious about my pets. I love the idea of a puppy-shower. I would have one so that my friends can meet the dog (puppy gifts would be 100% optional, just come if they like dogs). I will probably write an email (beaming with pride) to my friends when my cat catches his first mouse. Will I dress my pets up? Yes, and probably mostly for the amusement of watching them try to rip the costumes off.
    But I agree, if you ignore my pet, then don’t be mad if I don’t coo over your baby. :-)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I know – I would be the most obnoxious pet person in the world if I let myself run free. I really have to restrain myself from posting tons of pictures on Facebook because I know it’s not fair to complain that the parents do it with kids, and then do something like that. I better get an invite to that puppy shower!!

  • lauren says:

    I could not agree more with this post. Babies and kids do not belong in the office. Good for you, you had a baby. What does it have to do with me? And did anyone call you up and say to come in? Doubt it. You just assumed we all give a shit about your kid.

    In general, i am constantly obligated to care about people’s offspring, whom they shove in everybody’s face–but if I talk about my dog, I’m a crazy dog lady who thinks my dog is a baby.

    Granted, I AM a crazy dog lady (I blog abt him), but I surely do not think he is a human child. Do I treat him like family and call myself his mom? Yes, but I don’t treat him like a person, I treat him like a dog.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Maybe one of these days, someone will roll into the office with a newly adopted puppy or kitten in a stroller. Something tells me that wouldn’t be the strongest career move though.

  • Sophia Campbell says:

    Yeah I totally understand why people gush over kids females are hard wired that way but to those without kids there pets are there babies I mean I used to gush over my cousins kid until I had my daughter and now I don’t gush over kids I gush over animals

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      That’s funny that you went in the other direction! I actually know a lot of people who didn’t like kids until they had their own, and now they gush over other people’s kids.

  • Sophia Campbell says:

    Yes I am a mother but that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with this post

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