Sep 192011
Authors: Colleen McSweeney

If you want to ignite a maternal instinct within you, there’s nothing more effective than walking in on your roommates bathing their cats.

My two roommates, whose names I’ll protect just in case the ASPCA gets word of this, have each rescued a cat from the Larimer Humane Society within the past year. Having grown up with cats all my life (including a 25-pound-cat named Rufus), I was completely fine with it.

But I wasn’t at all prepared for both my roommates’ affinities for giving Dexter and Fiona bimonthly baths. Sure, I’d heard tales of people bathing their cats, but I was always baffled by why they’d subject the water-hating animals to such torture when it seemed that cats had no problem cleaning themselves (except Rufus, who was at one point too fat to lick himself).

So whenever they told me they were planning on bathing the cats, I’ve always made sure to stay out of the house, or I’d lock myself in my room and play music to drown out the meows of agony I was sure to hear. But two nights ago … two nights ago I witnessed it.

I walked into my roommate’s bedroom, looked over to the open bathroom door, and there they were: one roommate was blow-drying Fiona on the ground, and the other was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, rinsing the shampoo out of Dexter’s fur. And the most surprising thing was, the cats didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, they looked like they were enjoying it.

When my roommate lifted Dexter from the water and said, “Here, wrap him up like a baby with that towel,” I did. I didn’t question it. Instinctively and without thinking, I bundled Dexter up and began rocking him back and forth like a baby. In that moment, I felt like the mother to a very hairy newborn child.

Recounting it, the whole scenario sounds really weird. And- let’s be honest- it was.

But that night, two things happened to me: I learned that washing cats isn’t necessarily torture, and I realized: “Wow, I may be a mother one day (to a human, not a cat).” Except “one day” isn’t so far away anymore. But do I want to start a family more than I want to start a career? Which is more important to me? Aaah!” Essentially, I experienced a temporary bout of the modern young woman’s dilemma.

While I don’t plan on having kids for a long, long time (don’t worry, Mom and Dad), that strange cat-induced segment of maternal instinct really got me thinking about something I know many of my female peers have also mulled over. Is it possible to pursue a full-time career while raising a family? Or is it impossible to have one without sacrificing the other?

The truth is, we’re all in college in hopes of gaining a degree that will ideally lead to a career we’re interested in and enjoy. And of course, we’re living in a time when it’s expected for both young men and women to pursue the job market equally — there’s no disparity there.

But there’s still a sort of unspoken expectation of young women when it comes to kids. While everyone is telling us we’re fully capable of competing with men in the job market, there’s still a presumption of women, more so than men, to stay home and raise their children if they decide to start a family. So even though the workforce is well on it’s way to becoming gender-blind, the social standard of “ the woman raising the kids” is far from dissipating.

It’s a little overwhelming when you think about it — except, if Beyoncé can do it, so can the rest of us, right?

Although she’s only pregnant, she’s just one recent example of a modern woman who developed a successful career, and still was able to start a family. But like many other women, Beyoncé may (and probably will) have to ease back on her job in order to commit herself to her baby. Unless, that is, Jay-Z plans on being “Mr. Mom.”

And even though every situation varies, and not all of us will be able to afford the nanny I’m sure Beyoncé will be getting help from, I think she at least got her priorities in the right order.

First, she became a “Survivor.” Then, she fell “Crazy in Love.” After that, Jay-Z “put a ring on it.”

And now, after she’s established herself as a girl who can “Run the World,” she’s finally on her way to having a “Baby Boy” (or girl).

Editorial Editor Colleen McSweeney thinks there’s a Beyoncé song to fit any situation in life. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at

 Posted by at 3:52 pm

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