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How Getting a Pet Helped Me Better Appreciate My Parents

Nicholas Lee
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If a cat is this hard, then I can only imagine what raising kids is like…

My mom, mother of four and caretaker of seven animals, knows a thing or two about effectively running a household.

Now that half of her kids are out of the house and one more is preparing to start college in the fall, most of her housework revolves around the pets.  She always half-jokes that she does not vacuum to clean the house, but to keep up with shedding animals.

Before I adopted my own cat four months ago, I never really appreciated what she meant by that, nor did I understand how demanding it is to care for other beings.  

Margo is a seven-year-old black puffball with bright yellow-green eyes, and this long-time shelter cat is the ultimate companion.  As I write this, she is alternating between curling up in my lap and climbing on my torso to sit across my shoulders.  She insists upon treating me like a combination pillow-jungle gym whenever I sit, which is a high form of flattery coming from a cat.

As smitten as I am with Margo, taking responsibility for another creature—especially as a student with a busy schedule and a home base 400 miles away—is stressful.  My apartment is generally unkempt, because it’s difficult to keep up.  Fuzzy black tumbleweeds blow across my living room; bits of cardboard from the scratching post glitter the kitchen floor; little nose- and paw-prints decorate each window.  

I can no longer come and go as I please, but must plan for someone to be here for her (my dad insists that she not make the trek to the Draime abode during breaks with me).  Moreover, Margo is a senior, which makes a good vet clinic, proper food and medications, and close attention to her physical and mental health imperative.

These labors of love easily become overwhelming.  I can only imagine what it was like for my parents to care for us kids.  From the time we were infants, all four of us had health problems and illnesses ranging from severe asthma to chronic headache disorders.  Though life with Margo is hardly comparable to parenthood, loving her has given me deeper appreciation for what parents do.  

With Mother’s Day approaching and Father’s Day not long after that, the most I can do is thank my parents: for giving me life, continuing to make sacrifices, being role models, and providing so many amazing opportunities to grow.

Lilia Draime is a junior at a Catholic university in the United States. Her biweekly column addresses issues that impact young students struggling to live their faith on college and university campuses, whether those institutions be Catholic or not.

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