Monday’s Mommas: Pets, Parents, and How Children Cope Best

Hello and welcome to my new feature “Monday’s Mommas”. Each Monday I will spotlight one or two bloggers with a fabulous guest post.

I’m kicking off the series with a post by Janet S. Lopes. In this entry, she writes about kids, pets, and the lengths we’ll go for our kids. Surely a great read whether or not you have pets!

janetJanet is a wife and mother of two living in Connecticut.  She is an award-winning television journalist, photographer, and blogger.  You can check out her outdoor adventure blog, “The Trail Mix” on


Pets, Parents, and How Children Cope Best 


Yep, that’s the name of my daughter’s hamster.  I can’t remember how she came up with it. Bella tried to change it a few times. But, those didn’t stick. This one did.  And for about a year, Babycakes was living the high life, as only a hamster could, until now.

Babycakes is a teddy bear hamster; cute, pudgy, and as my husband, Tom, notes, still a rodent.  Bella, who is 10, takes offense to that.  She feels it’s in an insult, tells her dad under no uncertain circumstances it is, and for the last year, tried to convince him otherwise.  Well, it may have finally paid off.

Because, like a vigilant hawk, Bella, just a few days ago, noticed something was amiss, “Mom, something is wrong with Babycakes.”

I looked at her, back at the hamster, saw nothing of concern, and tried to settle my daughter’s fears.

“She looks perfectly fine. She’s doing what hamsters do,” I said.

That was mistake number one.

Next day….same thing.

I took her from her multi-level cage (oh yes, only the best), checked her out, and dismissed her lethargic movements and bloated appearance.

“She’ll be fine,” I assured. “She’s just getting older and resting more.”

Mistake number two.

By this time, Bella is bursting at the seams, pleading with me constantly, finally, taking Babycakes from her ‘condo’ digs and sticking her in my face.

“See! Look at her again.  Can we take her to the vet?”

“What? Are you kidding? There aren’t many vets that take care of hamsters.  And, besides, it’s probably nothing,” I said.

Mistake number three.

And this…this is where the turnaround comes.  Before Bella went off with her sister for a weekend sleepover, she took me and my husband aside and quite seriously informed us, “Mom, Dad… you’ll have to watch out for Babycakes now.  Make sure she’s okay.”

And, like any other parent, we made our assurances, before we set out on our day.

Now, mind you, my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary.  So, we had big plans in mind.  We spent the day on the shore and hoped to catch some dinner and a movie.

But, before setting off again for the night, my daughter’s soft-spoken request kept whispering in my ears.

“Take care of her.”

So, I checked.  And, like Bella repeatedly told me, she was right. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what. With most vet offices closed for business, I made Babycakes as comfortable as possible and set off to dinner with my husband.

But, the situation continued to gnaw at me.  And, while dining on some fine French food (as opposed to our normal French fries), I voiced my fears to Tom.

“What are we going to do about Babycakes?”

And, from the man who won’t even come near the tiny critter came, “We have to take her to the vet.”

So, now the race begins. As the appetizers head for our table, Tom is dialing up every emergency vet clinic in an hour radius.  No joke.  Now, we are seriously changing our nighttime plans, to pay a potential $100 emergency room visit to figure out what’s wrong with the little guy.

The transformation from doting husband to doting parent is instantaneous.  Yes, he feels bad for the hamster.  But, what is even clearer is that as a dad, he’s ever loyal to his daughter’s needs.

Despite the cost and inconvenience, we are both on page to do what’s right, save Babycakes’ life and make our own daughter proud of us.

But, it isn’t easy.  After a good hour of calls (in between the main course and with no

time for dessert), we are no closer to finding an on-call vet that could help us out.
But, this is our mission.  We are obsessed. One night’s search has now
turned into a full-fledged weekend offensive, to find someone.  Finally, with lots of phone consults, and an appointment in hand from a specialized vet, we make an early-morning visit.

And the news isn’t good.

“She’s much older now,” he said. “Her body is shutting down.  It’s time for a family discussion.”

The dreaded talk…the talk we already knew we had to prepare for.  But, there is no preparation.  Not for us, not for the kids, not even for the hamster.  But, it had to be done.

It wasn’t long before the tears flowed along with the questions, and everything in between.

But in that moment of sorrow and discomfort, what I found most remarkable, was that

we, the parents, became the very children we aimed to console. Whereas, Bella, the child,

became the caring and wise adult.

This, as I finally voiced a soft-spoken, “I’m sorry.”

Only to be met with her quiet strength.

“It’s okay.”






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