The struggle is real.
Just when you feel like you've got a handle on this being a mom thing: Boom! Something changes and you realize this is your circus and those are your monkeys.
Being either a zookeeper (or a mom) is a rewarding job. It's rewarding like no other job in the world, but it does have it's challenges much like being a zookeeper. Let's face it, even under the best conditions some days each job description is weirdly similar.
Some people reading this might find it strange how you can substitute the title mom for the zookeeper title. To me it seems natural for the jobs to be so alike. The saddest thing is that often times there is a checklist for zookeepers to follow to know that their animals are being well taken care of, but in the Mommy Land Zoo there isn't a checklist in how to do that!
When researching this topic I found some extremely funny quotes about being a zookeeper. They clearly confirm that some days I may really be more of a zookeeper than a mom.
Five Freedoms of Zookeepers & Mothers
The zookeeper job description that I looked at listed out that the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers (ABWAK) promotes ‘five freedoms’ which keepers should adhere to when looking after animals.
More locally the ASPCA also lists five freedoms to follow as well.
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.
- Freedom from Discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to Express Normal Behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
- Freedom from Fear and Distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Freedom from hunger and thirst
Whether you breast feed or bottle feed, your job as a caretaker starts as quickly as the baby is out of the womb.
Zookeepers must follow very specific feeding instructions for each animal, and keepers are often expected to work weekends and holidays to ensure the animals are fed routinely. - Zookeeper: Job Duties, Outlook and Salary
As a stay-at-home mom I have to laugh at this description! Yes. Of course as a mom I'm working 24/7, 365 days a year. It's a struggle that a lot of stay at home moms go through when their husbands come home tired from work.
In my case my husband works extremely long hours, but he does get holidays and weekends! I don't! I barely go to the bathroom without being interrupted by an emergency!
Most moms don't even get sick days!
And the fun doesn't stop there. What no one reminds you of when you're expecting a little one is that you (like a zookeeper) will continue to keep away hunger and thirst for this little bundle of joy sometimes until the age of 18.
Isn't that a nice thought?
I'm pretty sure too that most parents of teenagers have grocery bills that rival the Bronx Zoo's operating budget. I'm sure mine is close and my kids are both under the age of 10!
Freedom from discomfort
From lack of sleep to watching Disney movies on repeat for months on end, discomfort is something mothers take on so that their little ones won't have discomfort.
As zookeeper-duties go, mother's are starring in their own version of the movie Ground Hog Day 365 days a year.
The most noticeable duty that repeats is when I'm throwing toys into the toy box again. I even speak to myself aloud, definitely a zookeeper trait I'm sure. "Didn't I just put this away five minutes ago?"
And sweeping and vacuuming! People I know who have grown kids can't believe that I sweep and vacuum on a daily basis. They are lucky enough to only have to do it once a week.
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
My daughter Bootsie is less than 10 and has already racked up the following:
- 72 hours in the NICU
- full arm cast (broken wrist)
- boot cast (broken foot)
- multiple scrapes & bruises
- 12+ cavities
I like to think of myself as a good mom, but if you count medical insurance co-pays I might look like I'm failing!
As impossible as it sounds though, like a zookeeper, it is my duty to keep my child free from pain, injury or disease.
When they are little it's extremely hard to know what is wrong with them which will send you to the hospital at the drop of a hat. I distinctly remember a Halloween Night ER visit for an ear ache that turned out not to be one.
Then once they grow up a little and start to be more independent you have to spend most days running around avoiding disasters. There is an entire industry that sells safety products for your home and I'm sure it's booming right now.
Let's face it. Little ones seem to crave dangerous activities that cause pain, injury or disease and until they get to the age where they understand the consequences of such actions, mothers (and fathers) are doomed to be regular visitors to the ER and doctor's office.
Freedom to express normal behaviour
The most common connection between zookeeper and mom is that little ones and animals don't speak.
The things that will keep them happy seem easy enough. Mirrors and balloons and things that make noise are easy to cling to 360 days a year. Inevitably at some point they do not keep them happy for those other 5-6 days a year. Sometimes it even can change from minute to minute:
- The best, and I say this completely sarcastically, is having a tantrum over a red cup versus a blue cup!
- Or what about not being able to eat a piece of pizza because "it's broken"?
I say this in the most loving way, but how big of a jerk can your kid be?
Freedom from fear and distress
In our family the only mental suffering that is going on is in my own life. My husband still hasn't quite figured out that while the physical parts of my job are demanding it's the mental ones that take the mental ones that take the biggest toll.
I love my monkeys!
The good points...
“The job is very rewarding emotionally and when an animal shows it can trust you, you get such a feeling inside that there is no job in the world that can equal it,”
...and the bad
“Zoo keeping can be a demanding job requiring dedication, commitment and patience. Keepers must be prepared to work weekends, holidays, summer or winter when the ground is frozen and the enclosures are full of snow.”
One thing to remember is that you are not alone. All moms have it rough in one way or another.
What are some of your funniest zookeeper/mom moments?