Twelve years ago, I took in a litter of kittens who arrived on a hay truck from Utah, one day old. There were five of them. Just tiny balls of fur and need. It was said that they would not all make it. I took that as a challenge. Guess what? They did. All of them. I kept three. Max. Skunk. Minnie. Not the most original names...Max was the largest, Minnie the smallest, and Skunk well she looked like a tiny little skunk, and her personality matched, for sure!
Twelve years later, Minnie and Skunk are still here. We lost Max to a sudden illness some years ago. I still miss that sweet boy every single day!
I wake most days to being a cat mattress. They are cold and seek out my body heat during the night. The result is that I am usually twisted into some kind of "catortion"upon waking, but I don’t mind. I love waking up to them. They are my furry children. I have been their mother since day two. And there is as special bond because of that.
I have had lots of cats over the years. I am a really a one dog, many cat kind of person. I am limiting myself to the two cats at this time out of deference to my girls. I have tried to add other cats over the years, and they both were decidedly against it. So I capitulated.
This morning I awoke to Minnie on my head, tangled in my hair, purring loudly, kneading my hair. Skunk was sleeping on top of me as I lay on my side in the bed. Like she was some sort of vast monster, lying across the mountain side of my spine. Both were purring furiously.
And this is how I woke up. To purry, furry love. And I loved it. I cannot think of a better way to wake up...well, that is a lie. I can. But this was a close third.
I think they know when I am going through a hard time. They come to me, giving the only thing they have to give, love, adoration and affection. I am so grateful.
Not to leave my other furry beast out, Lulu (the border collie) made an unusual morning snuggle appearance as well. She was able to give herself the morning off apparently from her daily, self-appointed job, of being in charge of everything. And she lies curled in the middle of my bed, snoozing peacefully. Undisturbed by the purring and kneading of the cats or my incessant typing.
And I have decided right here that this will be the best gift I receive today...from my furry children. The less hairy, more smelly children are harder than their furry counterparts. Human relations so much more difficult than the furry ones for me.
My grandmother used to say the more she saw of people, the more she liked her dog. And I always understood what she meant. She died when I was nine, but even as a young child, I saw the wisdom in that. People are just harder than pets.
Mother’s Day is a hard day in this house. It is a day where I have historically felt the most letdown, disappointed and sad. On a day when other mothers are being spoiled and attended to, I feel forgotten, unappreciated and alone. My children do not go to great lengths for me. They do not buy gifts or flowers. They mostly do not do cards either. For the most part, they act as if the day celebrating motherhood doesn’t exist. And it has happened so many times, that I have come to accept it for what it is. A day where I can align my thoughts and feelings to reality or suffer through my insistence that mother’s day be something else altogether.
I have no plans today other than to do the normal things I do and then go on a long solo hike with my dog. I have vague notions of a roadtrip, some thrift stores and perhaps a long beach walk. That may include my children, but likely will not. And that is ok. I think my daughter will rally, and it is up for grabs as to wether my son will even acknowledge the day, and even more perilous is the idea that we might spend some portion of the day together. He did make me a card yesterday so that is head and shoulders above anything he has done for the whole of his adolescence.
Mother’s Day has become emblematic for my experience being a mother. It always seems that everyone else is doing it better, having a better time and reaping rewards that I just don’t seem to be able to. I know that this is not completely true...nothing is what it seems from a distance. The view I have of other mothers and their experience is not at all what it likely is for them.
I guess the progress for me is that I am not unhappy today. I do not feel put upon. I am not overly sad. Wistful might be a better description of how I feel. I tend to believe that God sent me all this furry, purry love to balance out all the things that my relationship with my children feels lacking.
And even with all the lack, I love my children. Both of them with all that I am. It is hard to spend time with my son because he vexes me and causes me to react rather than respond. I attempt to go for the love with him, and what should be easy and light, often feels incredibly heavy and hard. My daughter is easier and more enjoyable. But there are issues there as well.
And I guess that is what motherhood feels like to me. Exquisitely painful, beautifully tragic, life alteringly hard and the best thing I have ever done in my life. The furry and the not. I love these beings with all that I am. I show up for all of them every day, not for the kudos and praise (thankfully because those are severely lacking a great deal of the time) but for the salvation I find in the role I took on for all of them as mother.
I am the stable base. I am the fountain of never ending love. I am the rock upon which they break themselves against. I am the authority and the hug. I am the one whose job it is to show up, no matter what and do what is necessary, whether I like it or not. Whether it feels like it will kill me dead. It matters not that sometimes I feel like I am going insane or like it is all too much. Motherhood, at least my experience of it, is hard and sporadically rewarding. The good times too few and the hard times too great.
But that is the deal. This mother’s journey. We become this mother thing and then the rest of our lives circle around the beings we create. I don’t think I understood that before having any of the creatures that inhabit my home. I don’t think I got just how much my life would alter, change and become less my own. I never understood that mothering was such a laborious task, despite the inception being called actually labor. I am not sure what I thought, but it wasn’t this.
But on this mother’s day, I woke with furry, purrs of love and I am grateful. I will take the day in whatever form it comes. And I will remember that I am blessed to get to do the hard work of mothering while I also remember that I get to begin anew each day, which is not untethered to my past mothering mistakes, but a new path is possible in this new day.
I love my children. I am grateful for them and to them. Even on the hard days. Even when I am pissed the fuck off and want to strangle them. I am their mother and they are my children. And that is an experience that I am so incredibly grateful that I didn’t miss. So today it doesn’t matter what they do or don’t. I have redefined the day and made it my own. This day, this mother’s day, this mother that I am, she decides that the day was complete upon waking, waking to the fur, the purrs and the love.