"I'm not his freaking Mom," I protested furiously, holding kitten Rex in my lap. He had been wandering around the house crying for me because he didn't know where I was. When he finally found me and jumped into my lap my mother had gushed, "Oh, how cute. He wanted to sit with his Mom."
"I hate when people call their pets their kids," I grumbled. "I'm no one's Mom, human or animal."
Five years of pet ownership later and I'm singing a different tune. It's not so much that I like the idea of being someone's Mom; it's that Rex and Aidan seem to.
I couldn't get comfortable. I was trying to lay in bed with Davey and watch the X-Files but Aidan had, once again, laid himself out right in between us with his head on my pillow in such a way that I couldn't see the screen or position myself so that I could see it. This is a nightly event.
"Aidan!" I complained, like I do every night, trying to jostle him so he would move and failing utterly. I plopped back onto my pillow. "Whatever."
"Aidan," said Davey affectionately, picking him up and putting him on the other side of his body. "Come on, buddy. Leave her alone."
Aidan snorted wildly. "I want to sleep next to my Mom!" he complained.
"Aidan, buddy, lie down," Davey said, putting his arm around Aidan to entice him to sleep there. Aidan wanted none of it. He wiggled from Davey's hold and trundled over both of our stomachs on a beeline course towards me. He settled himself safely on my far side, where Davey couldn't reach him. "I always sleep next to my Mom," he explained with a phlegmy grunt. Within moments he was snoring, dreaming dreams of victories won and sausage buns devoured. I could move around with him on that side, so I usually let him stay.
My eyes popped open blearily at the touch of a paw on my chin. Rex was hovering over me, about to poke me gently on the face again if I didn't move. "What is it?" I asked, groggily, even though I already knew what he was after. He'd been doing this at least once a week since we moved in.
Rex snuck a glance at Aidan, who had made his way back to the middle of the bed during the course of the night and was now spooning me to the best of his ability. He was still asleep. Rex nodded, reassured, and looked back at me. "I want to get under there with you." He nudged the covers next to me, so I would know what he meant, but I was already one step ahead of him. I had lifted the blankets up over my chest to make a tunnel for him right after he woke me up. He crawled in, curling up against my stomach. "I like it here with you," he purred. "I like it when that stupid dog is asleep and it's just you and me again, like before." I petted him for a few minutes, happy to have him there with me, and started to fall back asleep. Rex stood up, waking me again. I groaned a little as he crawled back out into the open air. All I ever want is to be able to sleep through the whole night without anyone waking me up. "That was nice." He paused a moment before hopping off the bed. "Hey, Mom, maybe I'll come back in a couple hours and say 'Hi' again, okay? I'll wake you up." He looked at me angelically.
"Okay," I said, blearily, burrowing into the covers as he slunk off.
Rex climbed off of my lap and went to go check out what was in the kitchen. Halfway down the hallway I heard his bell stop jingling. I paused what I was doing and waited for it.
"Mom! Are you still home?" he shouted.
"I'm still in here!" I called back, rubbing my forehead.
"In the room?"
"I'm in the room!"
I heard the jingling resume as, reassured, he went off to poke around the cupboards. I waited another few seconds to make sure he wasn't going to shout for me again, but he remained silent. I went back to my game of freecell.
Later, when I got up to get a glass of water, I found Rex lazing comfortably in the middle of the kitchen floor. He jumped up when he saw me. I smiled at him, but said nothing.
"Mom!" he said. "I'm right here."
"Hey, Rex," I said, waving and stepping over him to get to the sink.
"What?" I asked, my attention on the sink and my cup of water.
"Look at me, Mom. Mom, look at me. I'm right here."
I looked at him. "I already saw you, Rex." I had seen him the other three times that evening that he decided I had suddenly been struck blind to his presence.
"Mom, sit down and pet me," he commanded.
I sighed. "Rex, I-"
"Mommmmmmmmmmmmmm," he persisted. "Pet meeeeeeeeeeee."
I sighed again, louder this time, and complied. I knew from experience that there was no other way for me to win.
I turned the key in the lock, slumped over wearily from a long day at work. I was exhausted from people's constant demands and I just wanted to sit down and do what I wanted to for an hour. Before I had even opened the door I heard Aidan whining plaintively. "Mommmmmmmmmmm. You're taking too long to open the door. Mommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm."
I hung my head and pushed the door open. It was useless to hope that today's return home would be any different than every other day's. Aidan was right where I thought he would be, nose pressed against the door jam so that the first thing that touched me when I walked in would be his very own breath. I squeezed past him as his body tensed up like a spring. I closed the door. I was home.
"Oh my God! Mom!" Aidan rejoiced, whipping around me and leaping up to lean against my legs. "You're home! You're home! You were gone forever but then you came back!"
Rex peeked his head around the corner and watched Aidan's antics. "Hi, Mom," he said. He used to come running when he heard my footsteps approaching the door but at this house he was wary of the dog and his uncontrollable gyrations.
"Hi, Rex," I said wearily, going into the living room. Both of them were right on my heels. I dropped my purse on a chair and flopped down on the couch. Aidan jumped up next to me and stared earnestly into my face. Rex sat primly at my feet, waiting to see if Aidan was going to make a move. If I were in a better mood I would pet both of them simultaneously and congratulate them for being so civil to each other, but I was worn out from another soul-crushing day at the store. I would have been happy if they would both go away and let me sit, but there was no chance of that. They had been waiting all day for my lap to arrive and become horizontal. Aidan hesitated and looked at Rex. Even if he didn't like it, he now knew that Rex was an important factor in the family dynamics.
"I want to sit on Mom's lap," he informed my cat.
Rex gazed at him severely. "You mean you want to sit on my Mom's lap. You don't have a Mom."
Aidan was undaunted. "She's married to my Dad, so that makes her my Mom."
Rex flicked his tail. "No, that makes her still my Mom. I'm the one who's lived with her her whole life."
"Well," Aidan shot back, his ears drooping, "you don't have a Dad then."
"I don't need one," said Rex, getting up and walking sedately into my father-in-law's bedroom. "I have a Mom."
Aidan put his head down sadly on my leg. "I still think you're my Mom, okay?"
"Whatever you want," I grumbled, feeling spread even thinner than I had when I got off of work. It's hard work keeping two pets feeling like they're getting a sufficient amount of attention compared to the other. I have considered the alternative, of just giving up, but pet drama is so stupid to watch that it almost melts my brain.