(This piece is an excerpt from Marcia Kester Doyle’s newly released book, Who Stole My Spandex? Midlife Musings From a Middle-Aged MILF. Reposted by permission of the author.)
It started with the hamsters.
The minute my daughters saw the fuzzy little rodents at the pet store, they started begging me to buy them. Against my better judgment, I agreed, and we left the store that day with a deluxe critter condo equipped with tunnels, chew toys and a fancy exercise wheel to keep our new pets in perfect hamster form. Little did we know that these furry, nocturnal nightmares would take their exercise in the middle of the night, running for hours on that squeaky wheel like toddlers hyped up on Kool-Aid.
We also discovered that hamsters breed much faster than their rabbit relatives. When Mama Hamster gave birth to nine babies and ate three for lunch, my daughters learned a valuable lesson in parenting: never cross your mother when she’s having a bad day.
Hamsters were only the beginning of our family’s adventures in animal hoarding. There were turtles that caused my son’s bedroom to smell like rancid swampland. There was a long-haired guinea pig that looked like a misguided hippie from the era of peace and love. And yet who knew guinea pigs had such sharp teeth?
Our home quickly earned the reputation of being a modern day Noah’s Ark, and we were soon inundated with enough homeless animals to start a petting zoo. At one point, we fostered two albino rats, a hedgehog, a sugar glider and seven chinchillas. The day I brought home a stray rabbit, my husband protested loudly over my inability to turn down any creature covered in fur. He was certain that one day he’d come home to find Sasquatch sitting at our dinner table.
In addition to our smorgasbord of exotic pets, we also own three rescue dogs. One is on heart medication, the other is losing all of his hair, and the third wears a diaper — it’s like we’re running a canine convalescent home. The diaper-wearing dog is a pug with the appetite of a goat and a digestive system that functions like a recycling plant. We make his diapers by hand from feminine hygiene pads. Unfortunately, he often eats the pads and then poops out tampons.
Besides being messy, our animal collection has also been a source of family drama. When my children were teenagers, they accused me of loving our animals more than I loved them. (This was a no-brainer for me since the animals never talked back.) My husband also grew suspicious when he noticed hordes of squirrels colonizing in our trees, and I’ll admit that the daily buffet of peanuts and seeds I’d been feeding them was costing enough to support a third world country. I’ve also been banned from visiting the zoo or even watching Animal Planet, for fear that I’ll bring home a family of penguins or jackalopes.
I don’t think I’ll tell my family that lately I’ve been googling BOGO sales on Kinkajous. My husband has already threatened to enroll me in a 10-step program at Animal Hoarders Anonymous if I don’t stop. He’d much prefer I collect Hummel figurines or enroll in some knitting classes.
Which I’ve agreed to do — at the yarn shop right next to the pet store.
— Marcia Kester Doyle
Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of the newly released book, Who Stole My Spandex? Midlife Musings From a Middle-Aged MILF, and the humorous blog “Menopausal Mother,” where she muses on the good, the bad and the ugly side of menopausal mayhem. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, a staff writer for In The Powder Room and HumorOutcasts.com and a contributing writer for What the Flicka. Her work recently captured first place in VoiceBoks Top Hilarious Parent Bloggers 2014. Marcia’s pieces have appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamapedia, Bloggy Moms, Messy Mom’s Radio, The Woven Press and the Life Well Blogged series. In 2013, her work was voted Top 25 in the Circle Of Mom’s Contest. In 2014, she was named a Blogher Voice Of The Year.