My pets get pushy when they want attention. I think people tend to do this, too, but maybe in less obvious ways.
Pets seek attention by getting in our space
Take my cat, Bandit. He misses his girls when they are at school. My husband thinks the girls torture Bandit by hauling him all over, making him ride on their shoulders or head, hug him so close he squirms; yet, when they aren’t around, Bandit is sitting on my desk, standing in front of my monitor, or running to his full dish and squeaking at me. “Yes, Bandit, I see you,” I say as I scoop him up. It’s hard to type when he is in my arms. He protests and goes a way for a minute or two before he walks around me and hops up on the desk again to get comfortable. Eventually, he moves to another spot in the room. He just wants to hang out with me, I guess. Still, sometimes he is a major distraction. If only, he could give me some verbal feedback on what I’m writing.
Then, there’s Cocoa. She likes to boss me around with her barks. Open the door. No, I don’t want out. Open the door. No, I don’t want out. Finally, I grab her ball and hurl it out the door. She chases after it, wild with enthusiasm, only to find I’ve gone off somewhere. Bark. I tell her to put her ball down. She doesn’t. I can’t throw it if it’s in your mouth, I tell her. Later, when my husband gets home and scratches her behind the ear, she practically crawls in his lap. She makes herself a nuisance. She’s a chocolate lab, after all, not a tiny lap dog. I know she gets bored or sad that her kids are all busy doing other things. Her greatest joy now is trampling me to check on the garden or racing up and down the yard watching Pat hit golf balls in the field.
The other cats take a different approach. Mittens is stealthy despite her being a tad overweight. I don’t see her approach or leave like some sort of phantom. She’s a shadow that rubs along my back if I’m sitting on the floor sorting. I only know she was there because I felt her. At other times, she is my lunch companion as she sits in a chair, pretending she isn’t there for the food. She and Belle act aloof, but are all purrs and rubbing against me when they get some attention. The shadow moments and sitting near me are their ways of staying connected. It’s like she says, “Hey, I’m here.”
Grouchy people may need attention
Our people need attention too. We may need to slow down though to decode the expression of the message.
I remember when I worked full-time with a two-hour per day commute if traffic wasn’t bad. I’d return home to find a grouchy toddler, whom I would feed and bathe and tuck into bed. I wailed at lunch to my colleagues about how my son was misbehaving in our brief moments together. Through our conversations, I figured out he wanted some uninterrupted Mama time that didn’t have to do with eating, bathing, and sleeping. Some of my fondest memories are snuggling up with books with my kids. Playtime and hanging out are important for parents and kids to do together.
The same goes with spouses. We get out of sorts when we don’t have time together. Work and other commitments crowd out couple time, family time, personal time. It’s hard to fit it all in, but maybe we aren’t meant to do it all.
Honestly, we can’t do everything. We have to prioritize. We need to figure out what’s most important to us and let go of the rest. Sometimes we have to get pushy like our pets, and just communicate it clearly that this is what we want.
After all, when animals and people pester you for attention, maybe they are just declaring how much they love you and want to spend time with you.
What are some ways you pay attention to your loved ones?
Here is a related blog, if you’d like to read more: https://www.michellekaderlywelsh.com/determining-your-treasure-helps-you-when-you-need-to-say-no/.