Before my Adulterous Kitten gave birth to triplets last Saturday, I had high hopes for the book that I was going to write. I had planned to re-examine lessons I had learned about being a parent, by looking at mothering again–only this time through the eyes of my 13 month-old Momma Cat. I already had a title; I planned on calling my book of Cat/Mother insight: Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Parenting, I Learned After My Children Were Grown, and My Cat Had Kittens
. I figured that while I was watching my young cat care for her nursing babes, I would be reminded of how parenting is very instinctual and basic. In my bestseller, I would remind others that we over complicate things, only creating drama where drama does not need to exist.
“The Three Little Kittens” came into the world 4 days ago, and I have learned, rather quickly, that I will not be learning about parenting from my cat and the world will not be subjected to another book on Parenting, or Cats, for that matter. Luna Lovegood (my petite, orange tabby) was a wonderful Momma during the birthing of her children. After the first kitten arrived, she did all of the things that Labor & Delivery Nurses do at the local Presbyterian Hospital–while continuing to give birth to her other two babies. Watching her the first night was sheer bliss, as she covered them to protect and rested with them in the nursery. She was attentive and nurturing, faithful to the draining feeding schedule, unwavering in her commitment–for the first day.
On the second day, she spied the backdoor and pleaded for the great outdoors. Being a Mother myself, I could understand her need for a break. I remember what it is like to have little ones draining every ounce of energy from you more quickly than a coffee cup could be reheated in the microwave. In our home, we started buying diapers in 1989 and continued without a break until 1997. For 8 and half years, every single day–someone needed a diaper change in our home. So, I understood her desire for a break from the little ones. I opened the door and allowed her to go out and sit by the pool and enjoy the fresh air. I figured that she would come back refreshed, ready to return to parenting and the pressures of guiding her young. After a few minutes, I felt uneasy about letting her leave my sight, I did not want her to head for the hills of Cat Freedom and leave me to have to hand-feed the triplets. I gathered the Teen Cat Mom into my arms, carried her back into the house and made her return to the nursery.
Yesterday, when her children were 3 days old, she again came to the backdoor wanting “just a little break”. It was such a beautiful day, filled with Spring warmth we anticipate by the end of March. I really couldn’t deny her a few moments to unwind and recompose. The triplets had been extra fussy last night, and I figured that a few minutes watching the birds and planning her next hunt would be good for her.
In the midst of my Teen Cat Mom enjoying her time outside, I was doing somethings for my eldest child, my only daughter, to help prepare for her upcoming June wedding. I’ll have to admit, I was out of my element in what I was working on and it was frightening to me to have to be operating in an area that is not in my area of giftedness for such an important event. I don’t plan events regularly and I have a certain amount of justified insecurity in doing even a small gathering, let alone a wedding in a backyard, where everything has to be taken to the venue, and if I do make a mistake and forget something, I am paying a photographer a lot of money to document my error–FOR-EV-ER. No pressure.
Needless to say, I stopped watching the Adulterous Kitten and it wasn’t until the “cries” of triplets were starting to grate on my nerves that I went to get her. Well, as most teenagers do, this Teen Cat Mom had other things than child rearing on her mind and had evidently “twittered” all her friends that she was available to party. She was nowhere to be found. Standing on top of the patio table, I called to her for several minutes, certain that she just couldn’t hear me and once she heard my voice, she would come bounding back to care for her offspring. No such luck. I called and called. Then, I remember the tasks that I really needed to work on for the wedding. I decided that I would just go back and work a little more, and then come check in a few minutes.
I returned to the house to work on my day’s tasks. The next item on my “wedding to-do list” involved using my printer. So, before I could even begin to work with the printer, I had to buy it a drink. Yes, I had to get my printer drunk and then beg forgiveness for the terrible things I had said about it in the past. I am not joking about this–my printer hates me. It really despises my existence, and when it dies and isn’t allowed to enter into Printer Heaven, it will be its disdain for me that keeps it out of the presence of God. So, now, as I tried to beg the hating printer to cooperate, I had to listen to the wailing of the triplets in the background. The whole scene waslike something out of Scarface–which I’ve never seen, but the name fits my mood at the moment.
It was at about that time that the Bride came home from her day at of college classes and found me in the midst of domestic chaos. She took one look at what was taking place with me, my printer and The Three Little Kittens–and asked, “WHAT is going on, and WHERE is Luna??” I looked at the clock and realized, it had now been an hour since I had let the Teen Mom Cat out; I knew she needed to come back soon, or I would be the one getting up at 4 AM to feed the triplets. The Bride and I went on a “Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty” rampage. While the Bride took her turn standing on the patio table calling over fences, I walked down the street, passing a neighbor with a dog on a leash, who I am certain was judging me for inability to control my teenage Cat. I was a little offended, but after spying on their teenage Dog for a few minutes, I am pretty sure that he is doing drugs, because his intellect was certainly lacking.
And then, with a burst of energy…there she was! Bright and happy, she ran up to us! She was very pleased that we were looking for her. We gathered her up and brought her into the house. The triplets had cried themselves into a pleasant slumber (finally) and so the house was silent, except for their favorite Hillsong CD, which still played softly in the background. I waited for her to run to the nursery and check on them, I was certain that she would be so proud of how I had cared for them for almost 2 hours while she had her Spa Day. Nothing. She just sat there and cleaned herself. She didn’t even seem concerned , and unlike human parents, she didn’t make a move to go check that they were breathing or that they hadn’t been eaten. Then, her little Calico daughter began to mew. The Teen Cat Mom looked over at the nursery as if she had never seen it before. She seemed to have forgotten that she had played Midwife in the box just days before and Nursing Mom in it, just hours ago. Then, instinct (finally) clicked in and the Teen Cat Mom charged towards her kittens. She climbed in the box and hovered over them, then she lay down beside them and they began to search for a spot to suckle. But, before she relaxed completely into it, she looked up and me, turned her head slightly to the left and said, “
What the Heck, I don’t remember having kids?!” “Meow”.
So, today, the rules have changed. The Teen Cat Mom is no longer allowed to go outside. She is “grounded” for the next two weeks until the kittens are a little more stable. And, I am no longer going to look for examples of how parenting is instinctual and uncomplicated, because it isn’t. Parenting is completely complicated and difficult because there is more to it than just following my instincts. If I were to rely solely on my instincts and what came natural, I wouldn’t be planning an event to remember for my daughter. In my cat-like abilities, it is not a natural or instinctual thing whatsoever. But, I do it because I love her. I do it, because even when I escape for 2 hours, I never forget that I once played nursing Mom. I don’t look for drama, but, it is there and it is painful. It is painful because I cannot just choose to do the things I like to do. If I were a Teen Cat Mom, I wouldn’t have to deal with rental companies, printers or Bridal gown alterations. I would just leave my kittens to plan their own events. I could say, “Sorry, little kittens, this is not what I am good at…so I don’t have to do it. I don’t have a natural instinct for it–hey look, a bird!” But, alas, I cannot just do the things that come easily and naturally, I’m not a cat.
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