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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who Do You Like Best?

Ah, this question was bound to come up, was it not?

Every parent with more than one child or pet secretly ponders this, or is possibly asked this by the child! I have only one child, but two pets. So, who do I like best?

Let me delay my answer for a bit. A quick look at the research shows that mom’s favoritism contributes to adulthood depression, even in the favored child. It seems that the favored child feels guilty about their status, while the unlucky child feels bitter. Don’t know if you can extrapolate to animals, but I will anyway. Yesterday, Dakota seemed to perceive my behavior toward Singer as favoritism. I thought his mock attack was an important sign that my behavior probably wasn’t as impartial as I’d assumed, even though I’ve been concerned about how Dakota feels lately.

There are also, apparently, hormones linked to maternal bonding. I felt very maternal towards Saylor on her last days with us, wanting to ease her suffering and protect her. During those few weeks before Singer came, I focused a lot on Dakota, buying him his kitty condo, catnip, taking him to the vet to make sure he was healthy, spending more time with him. Then suddenly the attention was divided.

Singer needed careful, loving attention at first because I could tell she was really frightened. She didn’t know where she was, who I was, and what was going to happen. Maternal instincts were high again. I fell right into the role of making sure she settled comfortably into our home. I thought I was dividing my attention between Singer and Dakota equally, but apparently not. It seems that Singer is also aware of how Dakota might be feeling because she again licked Dakota last night when we let her out of her crate. Singer seems to be trying to assure us that she will protect and love him. All that any mother could want. Can’t you just feel the bonding hormones surge?

So back to my original question: who do I like best? Well, dear reader, I like them both for different reasons. I really do appreciate having a cat, who is more independent and cuddly, who wants me to stare at him with adoration, but not necessarily reciprocate. Who thinks it’s okay to want to go outside near midnight, just because he feels like it, but then not care when I don’t take him out. (The audacity of that cat!)

And I appreciate that Singer watches me, trying to anticipate my next move so that she can be ready for me. Who loves and expects me to enjoy with her, our daily walks. Who wants to be with me almost all the time. And who likes hugs and cuddles, just like Dakota does.

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