I’m the kind of person who, when someone is telling me about something bad that happened to them or something stressful they’re going through, will tell them about a time when I felt the same, so they know that I can empathize with them and they’re not alone. It wasn’t until pretty recently that I realized that a lot of people find this really rude!

Still, being this kind of person means that I’ve been pretty unbovvered by people relating stories about their pet struggles when we’re jamming about the troubles in our lives. And, similarly, I was pretty baffled when I found out that this is something that other parents find really disrespectful!

Like, sure: the experiences are pretty different in terms of intensity and length. I don’t know many pet parents who agonize they’ve consigned a helpless creature to the tragedies of late capitalism, for example. Owning a pet doesn’t come with fifty-ish years of service, a moral obligation to cultivate another human’s entire life, a busted-up body, and literal rewiring of your brain. But. But!!

It’s so hard to find and keep friends as an adult, and as a parent especially. We have to give each other grace. If someone has offered me the gift of their empathy, what’s important is that they even tried! I’m grateful for that offering, knowing that it would have been so easy for them not to even bother at all.

(also I just always, always want to see your pets. so. double win.)