I started my new job today, and even though I wasn’t too busy I was still very nervous.

I know that the medication I’m taking is working for depression, but my anxiety is through the roof. I’m trying to train my brain to exist in the present, but I keep getting lost in the future.

I’m tired of feeling this way. I know that my anxiety and frantic thoughts will pass, but it’s taking too long.

The Mother of All Issues

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Other than an actress or a banker, I wanted to be a teacher. I had my own chalkboard; I would hold classes with the kids on my street. I used the books that I had from kindergarten to tutor other kids how to read.

My other wish was to work with animals. But I didn’t want to be a veterinarian. I wanted to be a zookeeper. I wanted to work with exotic animals, and I would ask my parents for a pet. We already had a dog and a cat, and because my tastes were exotic, my mom would tell me, “When you grow up and live on your own, you can have (an iguana, a ferret, etc.).”

My parents finally relented when I was in sixth grade and I got an aquarium. I started off with fish, but that didn’t last long. The first time one of the fish died, I was devastated. I got used to the circle of life, but then all the fish died. What to do with an empty aquarium? Hermit crabs!

I had hermit crabs on and off through college, but they didn’t really satisfy my need for a warm-blooded creature that wanted to sit on my lap.

My ex bought me a hamster, which died quickly after I got him from a disease, then a gerbil which lasted a few years. After we had been in Austin for a while, we decided to adopt a couple ferrets.

Smokey and Bandit

Smokey (black nose) and Bandit (pink nose) were awesome. They played together, they slept in the same hammock, and they hid toys in our couch.

After the divorce, the ferrets came to live with me. By the time I started dating Lee, Bandit was diagnosed with insulinoma and I had to give him liquid steroids twice a day. The good part was that Bandit liked the taste, so all I had to do was hold him in my arms and he took every drop.

After Lee and I had been together for a while, we adopted a Red-Bellied parrot. It was our first joint purchase. I didn’t ever think of myself as a “bird” person, but Floyd won my heart. He was kind of a loner, but he was putty in L’s hands. The adorable coos of delight when L gave Floyd scritches (bird community term) were adorable.

Floyd getting scritches from his dad

It wasn’t long before we decided to adopt another parrot. Lee had done extensive research to find the kind he wanted, and decided on a Jardine. One day we went to Gallery of Pets and, lo and behold, there was a Jardine baby for sale. We went to the area where all the baby birds were hanging out, the Jardine ran over to us and stepped on a young Cockatoo’s head to get our attention. We couldn’t resist, and Jules came home with us six weeks later.

Hanging out with Jules

The birds were just the beginning. Once we bought a home, we got guinea pigs and fish, and most recently we adopted two dogs.

So now we have a zoo. In a way, I’ve made one of my dreams happen…in a roundabout sort of way.

A lot of women dream of being mothers. I didn’t really have that aspiration growing up, and when I was in college I only thought of having kids with certain men.

The first time I got married, my then-husband was so gung-ho about having kids as soon as possible that I got caught up in the fervor. The opportunity never happened, and once we got divorced I was grateful that we didn’t have kids. I didn’t want to ever see or talk to him again.

Once I met Lee, we wanted the same things. One of those was to not have children. Not that we didn’t love kids. Lee has a wonderful family full of nieces, cousins, and a nephew. I was so excited that I was going to be an aunt. But both of us have anxiety issues and initially thought that being parents was not for us.

That thought changed for a while and we agreed to try to have a child. I knew Lee would be an amazing father, and he told me that he knew I would be a good mother when he saw me cradling Bandit in my arms while I gave him medicine.

We were unsuccessful in trying to have biological children and thought about adoption. I talked with a couple women who advocated adoption and gave us a lot of information about traveling this path.

But the longer I thought about it, the more I became anxious. Children are amazing, but they are also a full-time commitment. Even if we adopted an older child, which we had planned to do, it came with other obstacles.

When adopted Blue, our first dog, I had a breakdown. Not because I didn’t want a dog, but because she was like a child to me. Totally dependent on me, filled with separation anxiety, and loved me unconditionally. I was filled with so much joy and fear at the same time.

Blue in her favorite spot in the car

We adopted Buddy a couple months later so that Blue could have a playmate. It has worked out well, but it hasn’t been without trials. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change anything.

Buddy's first day with our family

With all of these animals, I realized that I don’t want to be a mother. That it would be too stressful. That I would be a nervous wreck.

It’s taken me a while to be OK with that. But I am.