I saw this meme once on facebook:
Of all the touching things listed here, the one that struck me the most was number 2, “She wanted that last piece of pie”. I guess it struck me because motherhood is made out to be this deep, magical, “next level” relationship and it really can be boiled down simply to “she wanted that last piece of pie” because what it’s really saying, what every mother knows is that when you love someone as profoundly as these little monsters you created, you do sacrifice what you want or need for them. Every day. All day.
A few months ago Emily fell in love with a kitten born at my brother’s barn. Of course she came home begging to keep her. She was the runt so she was tiny and a calico cat with the most adorable face you’ve ever seen. I’m allergic to cats so my “no” was easy, then we got the call. My dad had called to let Emily know that my mother had also fallen in love with her and has always loved calicos so they decided to take her home. One might think that would be the next best thing. We headed down the next day to visit the kitty my parent’s named “Tigerlily” and when my mom brought her down the stairs and put her in my arms, we had a huge new problem. I fell in love with her.
I’ve tried to stay far away from cats for 20 years. Simply being near my sister-in-law’s cats caused me such intense wheezing and itching that I would have to shower, pop a few Benadryl and nap for two hours before I started to feel human again. Holding her, looking into her giant eyes, I knew I was in trouble. I loved her. LOVED her. We couldn’t stop talking about her, thinking about her, taking trips to my parent’s house to play with her. David knew he was in trouble so (maybe in a moment of temporary insanity) he said “if you want to get a cat, get a cat. Ask your mom if there are any other kittens at Mike’s that need a home.
I wasted no time making the call, least he may come to his senses and change his mind. Yes, my mother told me, Tigerlily had a brother that we could take home. Then she asked the fateful question… “are you wanting a cat, or are you wanting Tigerlily?” I fessed up, I couldn’t get her little face out of my mind. That’s when it happened, my mother (who I could tell also loved her and thought she was as beautiful as I do) said “well you can have her. If you really want HER, you can have her.”
So what’s the point of this story and why does it belong here on “Shits and Giggles”? I’ll tell you: it all goes back to that last piece of pie, the metaphor that we as mothers get just as much joy out of our children’s joy as they do. We’re willing to sacrifice what we want or need or love to make our children happy or comfortable or feeling safe. We are unbreakably bound to these little lives that we’ve created so much that their pain is our pain and their joy is our joy. I’ve spoken a lot about what I’ve gone through in this journey, or what the kids and David go through, but I’ve not spoken about what my parents go through.
I think as parents of minor children we place a lot in the thought that if we can just get them to adulthood safely and successfully, we’ll be “good”. Like there’s some sort of finish line. We never think of what happens when they grow up. Parenting is never done. You don’t “retire” from being a parent and I’m sure my health situation was a huge blow to them. I know it hurts them and makes them sad. I know they wonder why something like this came into our family. I know they would take my place in a second.
They’ve worked hard their whole lives, saved money, put their kids through school and guided them to happy and successful lives. They’ve seen their children fall in love and have children of their own. Life had never been perfect (no one’s is) but it was their time to start reaping the rewards of their hard work by retiring and enjoying their home, travel and their grandchildren. Then this.
My parents and David’s mom have been helpful to us in amazing ways, large and small. They’ve sacrificed for us in many ways and their sadness makes me sad. I hate what they’re going through because I put myself in their shoes every day.. how would I handle one of my children being seriously ill? We get so many kind notes and gifts and “pick me ups” from our amazing community, but because I’m an adult I think it can be easy to forget that they’re going through a lot as well and probably aren’t getting the same emotional support that we are.
My parents are practicing Catholics and believe strongly in the power of prayer, so if you’re so inclined say a little prayer for them the next time you think to. Light a candle for them or send positive thoughts their way. They are amazing parents who gave me a storybook childhood and while this situation is tough for all of us, it’s tough for them in a special way.
By the way, Lily did come home to live with us and her brother Milo found a home with my parents. She’s beautiful and funny and we call her “Regina George” sometimes and anyone who’s had a girl cat knows why. I think that because we got her when she was so tiny, I’m building up a resistance to my cat allergy as she grows. I did have a cat as a kid, so I was hopeful that my allergies would calm with constant exposure and it seems to be working.
I’m a little bit obsessed with her so enjoy some kitten photos. She’s also got an instagram account, her handle is That_so_lily. Yep, I’m one of “those” people.