Talking about babies makes me twitchy. It’s because I’m unqualified to speak about trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, birthing, or mothering. I was 43 when I got married. At that point in life, math and biology (not my best subjects) had conspired to discourage free-ranging my ovaries: Do you really want to be the 60-year-old mother of a teen? Really?
Now I am 53 and I find myself gushing and tearful whenever I’m around babies. It feels biological, like an un-entitled grandmotherliness. To be honest, it pisses me off. I went through this before, when my friends started having kids and I was still single.
I tell the universe (or God, whatever): Yes, I wanted to have babies once, OK? But I didn’t have them. Can you let it go now?
Talking about not having babies leads to uncomfortable conversations about how I could still adopt or become a volunteer in a school or offer to babysit. If I had intended to do any of those things, I would have done them by now. So, all of this compressed, grandmotherly tenderness, having no place to go, leaves me vulnerable to the rest of the animal kingdom. Every caged elephant, lion or baby rhino, every abused dog or injured hamster, plucks at my heart like every cello and violin in Barber’s Adagio for Strings.
I am grateful for Scout, who I have written about previously. She is the kitten I found on Compromise Street last summer, infected eyes and lungs, mewing loudly, utterly alone. I picked her up and carried her home. Her eyes were so severely infected, the vet had to remove them two months later. Where her eyes should be are little dimples; her face is all nose now and it is the sweetest cat nose ever.
We have routines we follow every day, like mother and child. In the morning, it is the shampoo bottle game. An empty plastic bottle sits on the tub’s edge. I say, “You know where it is.” She stands on her hind legs and pushes it off the ledge with her front paws, listens to it hit the tub and roll down to the drain. We do it again and again until she is satisfied.
In the afternoon, she waits by the back door for outside playtime. She chases the stick that I drag along the grass, or chases me as I make Grassman noises, dragging my feet. She hears everything. She wants to stay outside for the rest of the day and takes measured bunny hops to evade me as I attempt to pick her up and carry her back in the house.
Yesterday, I tried to imagine her world and walked in the yard with my eyes closed. I could feel the sun on my skin and the dry, lumpy grass at my feet, and the wind blowing from the southwest. I stopped, worried that I would step on her.
Most nights, I wake up at 4:30 to her kneading and headbonking, and then I fall back asleep. It’s the least I can do for her, this wakefulness, when all day long she rescues me from myself.
That’s so, so sweet! I suddenly feel that I need to get a cat……
Thanks, Beth! Yes, you should get a cat. No home is complete without one. 😉
Loved today’s blog.
Thanks so much. I need to visit your blog! Must get caught up.
This really touches my heart Meg. Beautiful!
Thanks so much for reading, cousin! Hope your little cat (probably not so little anymore) is doing well. Love to you!
What you mean to Scout is beyond words. And so is what she means to you. If that isn’t unconditional love, I don’t know what is.
Thanks for your lovely words. She definitely holds my heart.
Clearly whatever forces brought you and Scout together on Compromise Street had a sense of irony because there is nothing even remotely resembling a compromise about what transpired between you. You were both all in from the get-go. Beautiful piece, Meg.
Yes, it was a commitment from the minute I picked her up, even if she was protesting! 😉 Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, Kerin. Grateful for your friendship.
This is really a really beautiful, emotional, and powerful piece.
Thanks so much, Michelle. Appreciate your generous praise!
I loved reading this xx
I’m so glad! Thank you, Glasgow!
Such an eloquent post, thank you for sharing
Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Allie.
Love the image of the evading bunny hops!
Whatever you can picture in your head, multiply the cuteness by 10 because Scout’s bunny hops are friggin’ adorable. 😉 Thanks for visiting, Jeanne!
Meg, I love this story. I feel like I just received a small peek into your world and it feels like a safe, nurturing sunny place to be. Thanks
What a lovely thing to say! I hope it is safe and nurturing. I try. Really appreciate the comment.
So well crafted that I did not see the powerful punch coming at the end. Lovely post.
Wow — thanks, Bill! Means a lot.
It’s such a delight to read your nonfiction. This piece tugged at my heart. I was especially touched by the final paragraph. Loved this! xoxoxoKaren
Awww…thanks, Karen! So glad you liked it. <3
It’s good to appreciate the structure our animals give to our days. I love the term headbonks. My Link gives headbonks when he’s hungry and when he’s being played with.
I have become very dependent on headbonks. They tell me I am loved and I just can’t get enough of that. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Nate. Very generous of you, especially since I know you’re over in Speakeasy this week.
I believe we have all a destiny and a task in this world…. sometimes we don’t understand why things happen but we are offered oportunities,,,,u have a big heart!!a hug..kisses
Thanks so much. I find your perspective very comforting. xoxo back at you!
Oh Meg, this is so beautifully written. I love the knocking the bottle off drill. That’s so funny, and so like a cat.
Thank you for your sweet words, Stacie! I forgot to mention the before-bedtime cushball game on her little playground. She definitely has a schedule.
I ended up having a son when I was just shy of 37 and had already resigned myself to childlessness. But now, faced with the reality of a 15 year old son who has become appropriately more independent, my mama heart is nourished by our shelter-adopted cat. Your routines with Scout remind me of my routines with Soks (Silly Orange Kitty) which include “clean the sink”, “head butt”, and “finger shooting/falling down for treats”. Children grow up so quickly, but your post reminds me there are always souls in need of loving nurturing, and a continuous shortage of people willing or able to provide that care. I really love this post.
Thanks so much, Kathy. Soks sounds like a great companion. Happy you were able to have the best of both worlds.
Oh Meg, this is so tender and vulnerable and open. I’m so glad you shared this. What a lovely cat and you two have such a beautiful bond. I loved reading about the shampoo game and all the other things that make up your day together but the vision of you putting yourself in his place was so touching. So glad he has someone like you after what must have been a pretty tough time.
Very happy you enjoyed this, Silverleaf. I’m a lucky cat momma. Looks like you did great over at the Speakeasy. Will check it out this weekend! <3
What a lovely post! As I read this, my own cat Phoebe stole a piece of my toast and knocked over my water glass. But I love her nonetheless! Good for you for taking in and caring for a creature many would reel from! Thanks for sharing, Meg! TiV
Oh, Phoebe! What a scamp! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading, TiV. I love your visits. I swear, I’m gonna get over there and post again soon. xo
I’ll hold you to that! This week’s prompt is infinite jest, if that sparks any creative triggers for you!
How wonderful that you were willing to take on her special needs and meet them every day in ways that I’m sure mean so much to her quality of life. What a great cat mom you are! She is beautiful, btw. She looks just like my boy cat when his eyes are squinched closed tight.
This must be much the same way Jen Anniston feels (at least as sensed through my parasocial relationship with her-lol) with all of society’s pressure on her to have a baby. It’s just not in the cards for everyone. But her love of animals had to be what compelled her to get her dog’s name tattooed on her ankle. Yes, I read too many celebrity headlines.
You’re a great cat momma!
Hah! Yeah, we childless marms gotta stick together and dote on all these pets. Didn’t realize Jennifer Anniston was in the same boat. Well, if she ever needs someone to talk to, I can give her some pointers on avoiding baby conversations. 😉
Thanks so much for your generous reading and comments, Katy.
oh how incredibly happy i am for you and Scout to have found one another!!!!
Me too, Christina! She brings me so much joy every day. Thanks for reading, friend!
Oh my, the last sentence.
<3 Thanks, Cindy. Loved your piece this week. I'm guessing you don't want the jar of apple butter I just bought.
This is an absolutely gorgeous illustration of all the different kinds of connection and love that can be present in our lives. Beautiful writing.
Thank you so much, Ana. Yes, love can be a shape shifter! Really appreciate your kind words.
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Headbonks are definitely cat language for “I love you!” She is a lucky kitty – but your post shows so well how she gives to you as much as you to her. Two lucky ladies 🙂
Muy buen post impresionado con tu blog Gracias
Hey pretty girl!
I read this post last week and tucked it away until I knew I’d have to time to read again and say hello.
I loved hearing about Scout! I’ve seen her picture and have longed to know more. Thank you for sharing her with us.
You used an interesting word very early on “un-entitled.” Who really is entitled to anything right? If a person has a heart like yours, you’re “allowed” to love however, whoever and whatever you want. As far as I’m concerned…there can’t be too much of that in this crazy ole world. So glad you and Scout found each other.
(53?! You don’t even look 40!!)
Scout is lucky to have such a wonderful owner as you <3
Wanting children can come at you out of nowhere. It has no logic or timing. It is primal and unreasonable. Many not suited to motherhood heed the call and some who are more in control reason themselves out of it when it is certain it isn’t for them. I too was hit with this passion in my late 30’s when others were knee deep in kids. It wasn’t what I had wanted and it surprised me. I call it the Lemming Syndrome. I thought of having a child on my own – sperm-donner style. When I thought about the person I would create – I got reasonable. How selfish it would have been. When I did marry I still had a small window and took it. Having a child late in life can be hard on your body and spirit. It can also opens you up – makes you work for someone else. I had a lot of growing to do to be a good mom. Some days I thought I was the worst.
From reading your posts I think a child would be good but not necessary for your growth. You can always connect to the youth around by volunteering. Some of the most important people in my life were not related to me at all.
What a peaceful read.