Bathing in the Wild Kingdom

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It is hard to keep it together as a single parent.  We are juggling so many things: the messy garage, the almost entirely frosted-in freezer, regular haircuts, and mending clothes.  Actually, these are all things I have completely let fall out of the cyclone of plates spinning above my head.  My neighbors could make a longer list of dropped plates for you- garbage cans stay outside too long, curtains don’t get up much less closed, the dog barks too much, my wild son used to pee in the back yard… Whatever, they are picky. 

One spring a few years back, after all that dumping and dropping of balls and plates and serving dishes, I felt like things were still too busy but we were doing fundamentally ok!!  I was making it to work (usually on time), had been to parent teacher conferences, my kids were doing well in school, and there was a nutritious array of food in the cupboards (pickles count as vegetables, by the way).

I guess I got a little cocky…  I had also gotten the Christmas lights down before the first day of spring, my kids were wearing clothes that mostly fit them, I was wearing matching socks usually, and I had not driven to work in my slippers for at least 4 months.  When the kids told me they were hungry, we were able to eat.  Wow- successful parenting!  I had let a few extra things go that I thought were low priorities. 

Yes, I admit it, the non-talking tenants in the house got the shaft. I let the frog tank go black.  I have a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Ecology, so I think I know a lot about animals.  Frogs live in swamps.  I let a swamp grow in my living room- it was more natural anyway.  I had no idea if anything was still alive in there, but I did not hear frogs complaining.  Max’s dog tags were from the old house, and he was a “little chubby”, but I ran him just enough to keep his stomach out of the way of his legs.  The cat Jessy had not been to the vet for her first shots or spaying, but she was barely not a kitten, and she had been a stray to begin with, so I figured I was actually ahead.  By feeding a stray cat I didn’t care much for, the Humane Society would be giving me an award soon for my generous service!  She was kept mostly indoors except when she would escape through the basement screen which I couldn’t figure out how to fix enough to stay on.  I think I needed to keep the 7-year old from crawling out the window if I wanted to keep the screen on, but I had let that go a little too.

Anyway, the chaos was less than a dull roar.  The cat was giving me dirty looks, but that was nothing new.  Then April hit, and I had 1 date, 2 sets of taxes to pay, 3 colds between us (sequentially, not simultaneously, of course),  the garage door fairies didn’t fix the broken door for me, the checkbook wouldn’t balance even though I kept putting the calculator next to it, and the car kept running out of gas every week. 

I also kept running out of cat food.  I could not figure out why.  Was the dog eating it?  Had my kid started eating it again!?  When he was a toddler he would fill his cheeks full of cat food like a little chipmunk and come proudly show me.  Every time he did that, I almost barfed. 

I felt a little crazy- “Didn’t I buy cat food last week?”, “Are you feeding the dog Jessy’s cat food?” My daughter just shrugged her shoulders helpfully.  I lay in bed one morning and watched as my cat walked into my bathroom before throwing me another dirty look.  When I saw the fluffball leaving my bathroom that night and throw me yet another dirty look (she could channel my older sister’s evil eye from high school amazingly well) I told her “Go eat more cat food, because that is my purpose in life- to serve you, My Cat”.

The next day, I was without my kids for an entire 6 hour block, so I took an actual bath in by bathroom.  I was having a very nice relaxing day- I went running, attended Church, cleaned out the car, put the winter mishmash of mittens, hats, scarves, boots, and coats away, and put away laundry that had stagnated and become part of the carpeting on the stairs it had been there so long. 

I lay back in the tub of bubbles, feeling pretty smug about how organized I was.  I fantasized that maybe I could even go on another date next month at this rate!  I lit a candle, decided to meditate, closed my eyes… and heard a very distinct “ewwww” noise.  Mouse?  Rat?  What is that? I am terrified of rats.  I flew my bubbly body up and out of the tub, grabbed a towel, and stood there quietly to listen. 

“Ewwww” continued, morphing into “Mewwww” ; it was coming from my closet attached to the bathroom…  I threw open the door, started shaking all the clothes I had carefully hung an hour before, pulled aside my hanging pants to realize that the biology major was not really all that smart after all and was definitely not ready to date again soon.  Standing there in the back of my closet was my fat fluffy cat Jessy proudly challenging me and my disorganized motherhood with her eyes (and dried blood on the carpet and walls).  Also looking up at me were 2 gorgeous gray and white kittens.

I was speechless, appalled, dismayed, terrified, amazed, excited, and ecstatic.  Mostly I was mortified that these kittens were not that small…  their eyes were open, blinking at me in the light, and they were walking drunkenly towards me.  I had kittens!!  They were born here, in my closet, under my nose, behind my dress pants!  How old were they?  How long had they been here?  How clueless was I?!?  How stupidly busy?!  Then I thought about how excited my kids would be to see them and took a huge breath. “Whoa…” is all I could say. 

My house had literally become a Wild Kingdom.  I was waiting for a voice from the dirty encrusted microwave to announce that “Jim will be chasing down the wildebeest he has spotted in the garage behind the broken skis”.  So I made efforts to be a little less busy and to take care of a few things:  The dog got tags, the cat got spayed, and the swamp was released to the wild;  I explained to the 7-year old that we use doors, not windows to leave our home; I hugged the 8-year old much more often while also encouraging him to use a toilet not a bush; and I put the dog on a diet.  We slowed down and thoroughly enjoyed the 2 gorgeous kittens in our home.  They lasted for a few weeks until they began climbing my calves like tree trunks and I adopted them out.   

Moral of the story:  “My home will become a Wild Kingdom and I need to pay attention a little better so that I don’t get kittens in my closet”. 

P.S. I will take care of the freezer too– it just isn’t as much of a rush because nothing can live in there…  I think!


    1. Yes, kittens! Ask Katy my neighbor, all true!!! (I think in order for the subscription to work, you have to approve the email they sent you.)

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