Until recently, the only kids I’ve ever had have tails. A happy pet parent all my life, I am suddenly a new mother.

“How old are your kids?” friends ask.

“81 and 85,” I respond, eliciting almost as much head-scratching as my “kids with tails” quip.

As the only child of elderly parents, I have now been given the opportunity to experience human motherhood through the journey of reverse parenting. Dad’s a teenager, living life on his own, exploring the world. Naïve and trusting, he loves the ladies.

Mom’s an eight-year-old, unsteady, unsure, nervously navigating the labyrinthine world of Alzheimer’s. She calls me “mother” sometimes, when confusion and reality collide in her mind.

In a bittersweet, reverse twist of fate, the daughter becomes the mother; the eight-year-old gradually grows younger. Motherhood is indeed a dubious honor.