You know how you tell someone a story, and in the moment it is not funny and you don’t know why you are telling them? Except that you are going nutty inside so you share to get it out? But in spite of your own feelings, that person’s reaction begins to reveal that it might be a bit funny? That is how our first blog post came to light.
Amanda and I had trudged through the mucky process of sorting out blogolicious words like platform, web hosting and domain. Then, WordPress maliciously pushed us harder and demanded we create a sample post. Amanda, being a good friend, naturally thought it would be hysterical to reference a day of Smith chaos. It was, indeed, an insane one, chock-full of my children’s shenanigans. Trey was out-of-town and I was busy preparing for house guests when our teeny new kitten stepped in a large glue trap I had left under a bed to catch scorpions. Oh, hey, DID I MENTION WE HAD SCORPIONS WHEN WE MOVED HERE? Also, do you know what it’s like when a kitten is covered in a glue trap?
Amanda responded with a comforting HAHAHAHA. And, soon afterward, when I went to read our first official post, I saw this and started to HAHAHAHA myself.
This whole debacle started years ago when our children started asking us if they could have a cat. This was an easy answer for us. N-to-the-O. Trey and I are N-to-the-OT cat people. We are d-to-the-og people. Side note: I have learned that there are varying degrees of dog people and Trey and I represent both ends of the spectrum. Trey thinks our golden retriever, Tucker, is a happy, loyal canine and he enjoys petting him as he walks in the door from work. I tend to be the type of dog person that smushes my face into Tuckie Wuckie’s grill multiple times a day while using a sickeningly sweet saccharine voice to ask him questions about his day. And sometimes I pretend as if he has answered me and I continue conversing with him about his pretend answers. That’s not weird…at all. Look, even Mark Twain said, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” And so, long ago, it was established that Trey and I were officially dog people. The end.
And then we had children. And the children would see little kittens when we were out and about. And the children’s eyes would become googly and they would ask if we could have one. This did not fall in line with what Trey and I had decided for our family. We are DOG people. So our answer was firm. We had it down. It went like this, “you can get a cat when you’re 30….the same year you can start to think about dating. We don’t like cats. We are not getting one.” I mean, have you ever noticed that they have CLAWS?
But the children persisted. So we told them our lines over and over and added words like “absolutely not” and “never.” You know, the serious words that drive the point home and help you stand firm in your beliefs. I mean, have you ever seen how UNPREDICTABLE cats are? In fact, they are so bad that they have a bacterial infection with a fever named after them.
In time we got the children to stop asking about the kitties. We came to understand that they were wanting a pet they could be responsible for and call their own. Let’s be honest, Tucker sleeps with me every single night. He has no desire to pretend as if he’s their best friend. That boy knows who feeds him, who lets him ride shotgun in the car, and who gets him this sweet hairdo worthy of landing him the coveted January spot in Golden Retrievers of San Antonio calendar.
So, we solved the cat controversy by giving the kids….FISH!!!! First came Lloyd, then came Berry. Two itty bitty beta fish that were cute, colorful, AND smart. My trio still insists they have taught them tricks. Of course, these sweet things are in separate tanks because they are actually Siamese fighting fish named after an ancient clan of warriors. And if you put them together they’ll peck at each other until one murders the other….but that’s neither here nor there, WE SOLVED THE CAT PROBLEM! I mean, cats have litter boxes….who has time to clean up a box filled with littered cat thingies?! Not this family. We only have time for fish full of such venom and hatred that they must live out their lives in solitary confinement.
And then last summer happened. Our oldest was turning twelve and entering middle school. She has a heart of gold and is incredibly responsible. Her love language is not “stuff,” but she has always treasured meaningful gifts. She’s our less-is-more gal. And at the top of her birthday list was….a cat. She came to me and said, “Mom, is there really no way that we can ever have a cat? The neighbors all have them live outside during the day and in their garage at night. They keep all the snakes and critters away. Do you think that if maybe I put together a Powerpoint presentation for you and daddy about why cats are a good thing, then maybe you would think about it?” And it happened, my heart started to crack. I mean, cats are terrible, but are they THAT terrible?
And honestly, as someone who has personally pledged to help my kids live life to the fullest, I’m pretty sure basing our decisions on the rationale of “because that’s the way we have always been” and “we don’t feel like it, so no,” isn’t the wisest. And so, after talking with multiple friends who we trust and who have all loved having a cat at one time or another, we revamped our thinking. Hailey woke up on her birthday in August and received a letter stating that she was going to get to pick out a kitty to rescue. She’s typically our most reserved child, but on this day there was no doubt from her reaction that we had hit one out of the park for her.
A few days later we hit the local shelters. All the girls got to pick out the kitten, but Hailey had final say. She found a 1 pound ball of love that had been abandoned in a storm drain, but socialized well with humans. She looked at me, said, “this is the one, Mom!!! I want her.” She named her Charlie and we brought our newest girl home. I had no earthly idea what to do with her and her claws and the engine like noise that she made when someone held her, but my girls naturally began loving the heck out of her.
You would think this could be the end of this lovely story. But nope. Approximately two weeks after having her home, I heard desperate pleas and screams coming from upstairs and for me to come quick because there was an EMERGENCY!!! I dropped everything in a panic and ran and heard all kinds of wails coming from Hailey’s room. Two of my kids had their heads buried under covers yelling, “WE CAN’T WATCH!!! HELLLLLLLP!!!” Hailey was jumping up and down saying, “MOM!!! MOM!!!! GET HER!!! OH NOOOO!!!!” on repeat. And Charlie, well, Charlie was a hot mess. She had gone exploring in Hailey’s room, made it under her bed, and had found the long forgotten glue trap. She wasn’t so happy that she had touched this piece of plastic and it didn’t let go of her. To remove the trap, she instinctively put her other paw in it, followed by a third, followed by her nose, and she rounded out the misery by twisting her back flat onto the sticky plate. My girls were not the only ones shrieking either. I received my introduction to the cat scream. And the cat scream is deep, serious, and totally freaky scary coming out of a 1 pound body.
In the end, she survived, but I am sure she still has kitty nightmares. Not only did I quickly learn how to hold her, I realized I truly loved that furry little thing. We scrubbed vegetable oil over her entire body while pulling long strings of glue out of her fur over and over and over again. She stopped fighting us and just became this little pathetic, sad, sticky kitty. We shampooed her and she smelled so yummy. We toweled her off and she just wanted to cuddle and I’ll be darned if I didn’t assign her a new ridiculous voice that I use only when I am holding her. I mean, cats are so appreciative of being rescued, who wouldn’t love a cat?
The experience of adding Charlie to our family has taught me some lessons. First, we all have certain ideas and thoughts drilled into our heads that we have accepted as our personal truths. Sometimes, it’s healthy to revisit those and ask ourselves why we believe what we believe. Why do I think this way? When did I decide I would never own a cat? And more importantly, WHY? This also goes so far beyond adding an animal to a family.
We’ve got the holidays quickly approaching my friends. And the holidays can be full of joy…..and stress. We can quickly revert into old family roles and patterns. It is easy to fall back into, “I do it this way because that’s how it has always been done.” And this can place stress on our marriages and children. Meaning, the people who were not around when we originally developed these thought patterns. If your answer is something like “because I said so and that’s that” or “I don’t even KNOW” or “that’s how we have always lived so we have to keep doing it” then it might be time to reevaluate. Maybe something new could be in the works for you! Or maybe you’ll find that the answers to your questions are clear and easy to answer. Oftentimes when my answers are grounded in my faith and are backed up by Scripture that I hold so dearly for my decision-making, I know that I am choosing what is healthy for me and my family. Taking time to think about our personal opinions and decisions is time well spent.
And, I will admit. It turns out that all the things I thought I would hate about a cat became my favorite. Charlie is moody, odd and she wigs out unpredictably. She has the ability to make her fur puff straight out and I swear she jumps straight sideways sometimes. And don’t even get me started on how INSANE she is when the sun goes down and she starts hunting our toes. She can sweetly purr on my lap one second and then chomp down on something random like my earlobe the next. Turns out, this is the perfect contrast to our Tucker and to our fighting warrior fish. I love Charlie. But Trey…well…Trey still really likes Tucker.