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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Kittens


A trio of kittens
Originally uploaded by Evil Genius Society.
There are moments in every woman’s life when she realizes she has indeed grown and matured beyond her wildest dreams. For me, this epiphany came tonight when I realized I had a great weekend.

The entire family was at home together. None of us had anywhere in particular to go. We alternated between doing house- and yardwork, reading, and playing. I got a lot done around the house. This morning, Sunday, Bruce and I slept until 9:30am. I never bothered to put on contact lenses or makeup. I finished one book and am well into another.

There was one hitch, however. It was one that, in times past, would have ruined the whole weekend for me. But now, perhaps because the past six-weeks has been so frenetic, any reason to slow down was a welcome one.

Yesterday, the stomach flu paid a visit.

(Out of concern for the faint-hearted for the remainder of this piece I will be referring to “vomit” by a kinder, more gently evocative name: kittens.)

I have never been particularly fond of kittens – mine or anyone else’s.

I can remember having an epiphany in my own early childhood: some day, were I ever to become a mother myself, I would be dealing with kittens. Kittens are inevitable with children, and for more than a brief moment, I was shaken to the core. I was pretty sure that the certainty of never having to deal with kittens was reason enough to not ever have kids.

One of the points of pride in my life thus far is that between early adolescence and young adulthood, I went a ten-year span without ever kittening. This record was abruptly broken as soon as I got married. Had I but known…

Anyway, since the marital bed contained the occasional kittens, there didn’t seem much reason in not having children. So, have children we did, four of them, spaced approximately two-years apart.

Until the kids entered preschool, we did well in the kitten department. Though rumors of kittens always put me on edge, we mostly fought sinus and ear infections rather than kittens.

That gradually changed, and now we probably pass the kittens around about twice per year. When this pattern first started, I would become almost catatonic with dread and anxiety. After the first kid kittened, I was sure my own kittens were imminent. Bruce would roll his eyes at me, and insist it was not a virus, but just something someone ate. Eventually he would be proved wrong (every time he would be proved wrong), but every once in awhile someone in the family would escape the inevitable attack of kittens.

(As a quick aside, I suspect that part of reason Bruce is so stuck on food-related kittens, is that several years before we started the process of procreation, we both had a nasty case of food-poisoning that has stayed indelible a part of his psyche. Having to be hospitalized might have had something to do with it.)

I could tell you lots of stories of my experiences with kittens. Here are a few:

Once, on the evening of December 23rd my daughter had violent kittens. While standing in the sub-freezing backyard hosing kittens off Sabrina’s comforter, I thought to myself, “Man, when I bail out on Christmas Eve dinner my family is going to be really pissed.”

Another time, several days after bringing Ellie home from the hospital, the two older kids had kittens. I was very postpartum and very terrified that if I had kittens of my own, it would affect my milk supply, so when I started getting queasy a week later, I made Bruce take me to the E.R. in the middle of night for an IV and some anti-kittens medication.

Oh man. Then there was our first trip back to Seattle after having moved to Anchorage. We were visiting for three weeks, and in the end, only five days of that visit were kitten-free. The first person afflicted was Ellie, whose kittens decorated the pristine white couch and carpet of my writer friend, Stephanie. That was our second full day in town. The next person afflicted was myself, then Sabrina, then Evan, then Bruce, then Jack, and finally, after giving it to my mom, to wrap things up poor Ellie had kittens again. That trip, we canceled almost all of our social engagements, and were unable to see many of our beloved friends. We spent most of the trip at my mom’s, who felt having kittens was a worthwhile price for spending more time with us.

So, last Wednesday, I was bedridden with an intensely uncomfortably stomach flu, but thankfully, no kittens. Then yesterday, while deep-cleaning our family room sofas, both of which have seven-years of accumulated dog-grime, dander, baby spit up, urine, food particles, and several litters of kittens, Evan started to cry. I was feeling really good about finally tackling this project and was taking so much satisfaction from the muddy-brown water emptied from the machine’s reservoir, that I took my time going up to check on my baby. I just really wanted to finish making the loveseat clean.

When I finally went up to check Evan, there were kittens everywhere. On the carpet, the mattress, on all his blankets and “blueys”, and of course, all over him. Clucking my tongue in sympathy, I stripped him down, then stripped the bed, and cleaned the carpet. In a flash, I remade the bed, shampooed Evan, and redressed him in cozy pjs. After settling Evan back to bed, I rinsed the kittens off the soiled bedding, threw it in the laundry and, with barely a thought, went back to deep-cleaning in the family room.

In the end, Evie made kittens four unlovely times, but today he was fine, eating like a fiend, and happy as could be. That I didn’t fall apart and cry, that I didn’t panic, deflate or become catatonic, is a huge victory for me. All I really did was sigh and cheerfully say to Bruce as I wistfully observed my newly clean sofas, “You know what this means, don’t you? The family room is going to be bombarded with kittens.”

That someone like me could eventually come to accept kittens as a part of life is evidence of a Higher Power at work in the deepest places of my psyche.

But then, it’s not over yet. I’ve had my go with this virus, as has Evan. Tonight, it seems to be Sabrina’s turn. Two down; one getting started; three to go.

Poor Sabrina. She often begs me for a kitten, but I’m pretty sure this is not what she means.

3 Comments:

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep! I agree being a sick house does have the advantage of slowing down life to a less than breakneck pace. I am glad for the little blessings. Even if it did deny me breaking bread and visiting with you. I don't want any kittens here.:). You needed the break. I hope you are breathing freer now, even if it is through a plugged nose. DW

 
At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fellow kitten hater, the only thing I could think while reading this was- what about the Armageddon Kittens? Surely those were the worst ever. I was reminiscing about the Armageddon Kittens this morning as Tyler was telling Kiley (who was actually eating for a change) why he hates scrambled eggs. Then the whole horrid event flooded over me. Thank God for Mr. Bissel-12 times that week alone. You're a better person than I. Earlier this summer when Tyler had the foulest kittens ever- I threw away all his spiderman bedding and a brand new body pillow. Some kittens are just too horrid to face. Hang in there. I hope somehow the rest of the clan gets spared. Hang in there!

 
At 4:14 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Am I on edge or what? Your cheerfulness makes me want to cry. Hope no more "kittens" come your way, but I do hope Sabrina gets her wish one day.

 

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