Mothers Day 2018 is in the books. Contrary to the annual grumbling of naysayers, both families and the economy benefit from this “Hallmark holiday”, giving the harried a designated day to shoot for to remind Mom they appreciate her, and jazzing up the sales of flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, and the like.
But there is something creeping into Mothers Day these last few years, you may have noticed it on social media or even among the racks of Mothers Day cards at your local store; “pet moms”, people who own dogs and cats and various and sundry animals calling their pets “furbabies” and claiming the status of motherhood to them.
I can already hear the refrains of “Oh, what’s the harm” “It’s no big deal” “It’s cute!” and “What do you care?.”
I care, a lot. Children have a hard enough time in this world gaining a foothold in terms of their human rights and being afforded simple respect, even in “first world” countries like ours. Animals being elevated to their status means children are lowered to theirs. Adjacently, animal ownership has been for decades under attack by the animal rights movement, which seeks to legally bestow “personhood” on animals, meaning members of the movement could “be their voice” and wrest control of other people’s property (yes, animals are property, and far from denigrating them, being property is what gives them protection and worth. But that’s another article.)
I’m not a “pet parent” because such a thing doesn’t exist.
Yes, in private I say to my dog “mama is gonna take you for a walk” and I tell the cat “come here, my little baby” and announce “Daddy’s home!” to all living things at large in the house when my husband comes home from work.
Yes, I love my animals to pieces, am sometimes overwhelmed at the depth of my feeling for them.
…and yes my animals are members of our family!
But animals are not human children. Animals can be bought and sold; they can be sterilized and euthanized; they are sacrificed in experimentation for medical advancements benefiting both humans and animals. The Constitution and rights cited therein, given to us by God, do not apply to them. We eat animals and use their hides for our textiles. And yes, we keep them as companions, as pets.
My Judeo-Christian faith and worldview exhorts me to take good care of my animals, but it teaches me that human life is sacred, and that man has dominion over the animal kingdom.
So why do I get to apply my religious point of view to others? Because it is not just my point of view, it is a basic tenet of our civilization.
The oft-lamented events and concepts that factor into the ever-hastening disintegration of Western Civilization always begin with what we are willing to accept in our daily lives. Changing definitions naturally play a big part.
Not only are there folks who claim the mantle of motherhood for themselves based on pet ownership, but they and others look to include still others who may not even be seeking it, feeling those childless women are being left out. But it is not one whit of a slight to celebrate motherhood without including those women who are not mothers! What a presumption, that these women need the charity or condescension of wishing them Happy Mothers Day. Because that is what it is – a condescension, almost a pity. What an insult, if you think about it.
Motherhood is wonderfully special. It has taken some real bruising over the decades, and it needs to be preserved and celebrated as the singular institution it is. We don’t have to include people who aren’t mothers; most of them understand, are proud and happy with who they are, and value motherhood in others. If they don’t understand, we don’t help when we bolster their self- deception.
The unthinking equating of animals with children is simply wrongheaded. Some people realize they don’t mean it, after being exposed to the objections.
But people who have actually considered the issue, have applied their intelligence, judgment, and values to the topic, and still come out in support of equating animal life with human life – these people are supporting and perpetuating something pernicious and fundamentally morally wrong.
Alarmingly, this point of view is no longer out on the fringe. It would be a fair guess that any poll created on the topic would be shocking in the amount of support for the idea that cats and dogs and bunnies are equal and should be considered children. There are already polls on record showing a fair percentage of people would rescue their pet over a human being they don’t know.
As beloved as they are, our pets are animals, and not on the level of our children. Ownership of animals is not motherhood. A human child is the most precious of all beings. If we cheapen the special place they hold in our world, we risk losing our humanity and threaten the very sanctity of human life.
A contributing writer for The Cavalry Group, Eva Hughes is a wife and mother, lifelong New Yorker, former carriage driver and former VP of the Horse and Carriage Association of New York.