I’m not a fan of fish as pets. To me the maintenance vs companionship ratio is way too high. In fact, for many years I’ve been happy to have only a moss ball in a vase as our aquatic household companion. Mr. Moss Ball (referred to most recently as Benjamin, for reasons that remain a mystery) is the ideal water pet since he only requires periodic refills of his container and full rinsing every 6 months.

Frankly, even that maintenance vs companionship ratio is too high, but it’s within “really, it’s no bother” range. Then my husband, Adam, finished the outdoor pond, and he brought it up. I knew he would, because he has brought it up a couple of times.

“When are we getting fish?”

The thing is I think you get to a certain point in parenting where you really don’t want the responsibility of any more lives. You don’t want to remind anyone to feed them. You don’t want to fret about what happens when you’re out of town and no one remembers them. You don’t want to “mom” another living creature.

I know what you’re saying. You’re saying “Hey, they want them, it’s their responsibility.” And I say, “Sure, in theory,” then I tell you about how I still bear terrible guilt for the tarantula that I couldn’t save. A dozen years ago there was an innocent wild tarantula that accidentally got left in a jar on a day that got too hot outside. Then it’s dead skeleton – which actually looks like a live tarantula who is eerily still – was on display on our mantle for weeks. I feel its accusatory spirit even still.

Adam had done all the heavy lifting on the pond project, so the least I could do was pick up some feeder goldfish. Mireya and I headed out to our area pet store and the owner scooped up nine random goldfish. We promised, since they were only fifteen cents a piece, that we wouldn’t get attached.

Then we started naming them. We had Tokyo, Jaws, Esteban, Tom, Tim, Media (the Spanish pronunciation that means “half” because it was half white, half orange), Goriana Flamingo aka Goldy, Mo aka Mohawk, and Wilfred. As of today, we have confirmed the loss of Media in the great pond fish experiment, and I’m not sure who is left. Since they are tiny feeder goldfish and our pond is all about looking natural with nooks and crannies, it’s been like trying to find a wait person when you want your check. They also all look like orange feeder goldfish except Tokyo (who is all white with one small orange spot), and we only see five darting around at any one time.

So here I am, this time with a whole school of living critters. And while I’ve vowed not to get attached, when they all come out and dart around in their unique ways (we think it’s Tim and Tom that are the first ones out, while Tokyo is the fastest), then I feel that attachment coming on.

Someday, I’ll adopt a more “it’s survival of the fittest” attitude about these fish. But until then, they’ll just have to call me mom.

Winter Prosapio is a writer, working mom and Corporate Director of Communications and Government Relations for Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts.

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