Hindsight Parenting: Kids and Animal Companions
So We Have a Kitten
So we have a kitten. Yes…these words I never thought I would utter ever…EVER in my lifetime. But, here I am saying them… “We have a kitten.” His name is Jete, short for Jeter, the only Yankee my daughter Ila knows. Naming a cat Jete should also give you an idea of who was behind the idea of getting the kitten…that would be daddy.
Here’s the thing; I am not really an animal person. I mean, we had two dogs. I loved them. Really I did. But truthfully, once they were gone I was ready, relieved even, to begin a life animal free. No food to buy. No mess to clean up. No smells. No hair. No guilt when you don’t have time to spend to spend with them.
But then we went to Ila’s first therapeutic riding lesson at a farm, in a barn full of horses…and cats— barn cats to be exact—she came to life. (Ok…she is always FULL of life) but she lit up from the inside surrounded by the entire myriad of animals; ponies, dogs, horses, fillies, and cats…barn cats to be exact.
My husband, Jeffrey is the same way around animals. Don’t even get me started on the squirrels he feeds on our deck that left a huge hole in our sliding glass deck screen door when they chewed threw it looking for food. He has always seemed to have some mystical quality that attracts animals no matter where we are. And so, as we sat in that chilly barn on a stoop marveling at our daughter riding a pony, out of no where this mangy, one eyed wild cat came and made himself comfortable right on Jeffrey’s lap (Ok, I made up the one-eyed mangy part…). Instantly, Ila was distracted. She wanted that cat on HER lap. She could think of nothing else and so reluctantly with shoulders sagged and a great deep sigh, Jeff shooed that cat off his lap (I did not make-up the sigh or sagged shoulders.). After the ride, Ila fed her pony and took off in search of the barn cat with her father close behind her squealing with joy (Ok…I made-up the squealing part.). No matter, my point is that between Jeffrey and the complete illumination of Ila at the riding lesson I began feeling a bit squeamish about being an animal free household.
Hindsight doesn’t always have to teach you lessons about things you did incorrectly as a parent. It can also teach you about things that you DID perfectly. As it helped me reminisce about those puppies and the joy they brought the boys, I began to realize that maybe I was being a bit selfish. There were times that those dogs brought out the best in those boys of mine. Although they weren’t much on the clean and care of them, it was the unconditional love they received from them that softened them and taught them empathy. When Rudy, our Australian Shepherd, sang Happy Birthday along with us, the giggles that emanated from those boys made me belly laugh right along with them. When Vixen, our lab, would set her chin on their knees as they sat on the couch, you couldn’t help but notice that the way they stroked her chin and silky ears that she brought out the best in them. The dogs were their friends, their companions and at times, the only ones who didn’t seem mad at or exasperated with them.
When they died, I mourned. I mourned more however for the way they made my children feel… I mourned when they died because of the empty hole they left in my children’s soul.
And so with Hindsight’s hand firmly on my back guiding my steps, we began our search for a kitten. A kitten that would light up Ila from the inside. A kitten that she could love. A kitten that would provide her comfort and unconditional love, and I am happy to report that…we have a kitten—a kitten named Jete.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) purplemettfish]