I am not a stranger to the wide world of cat ownership. Ever since I moved into a house that was my own, without rules and regulations governing pet ownership, I have had cats.
I've had lots of cats. Most of them have been male. Very few of those males came into my life in an "unaltered state". In an effort to do my part in keeping the cat population regulated, I have had my male cats neutered.
Once, I took my male and female cat in for their neuter/spay surgery the same day. The female came home and was completely out of commission for a while. The male cat spryly went about his business as usual and as far as I remember, he just laughed in the female cat's face as he flaunted the ease with which it was to be a male.
Yup, I had it in for "males" after that. They get off so easy in comparison to us female counterparts.
That said, I also discovered I liked the easy going manner of my male cats and the female cats I had reminded me of myself. A little bit neurotic, nervous and high maintenance.
Yes, I got over my thing about males and decided their cool, laid back demeanour was one I favored. I am enough female for one household (just ask my three sons).
Enter our New Cat, Jet.
Jet came to us in an "unaltered state" and we wanted to remedy that as soon as possible. My son was eager to get this done immediately because he had never had an unneutered male cat and he was concerned this may affect his need to dominate our (previously) Only Cat. That, and he was worried about "spraying". I must admit I shared his concern.
Long story short, when I booked our New Cat's surgery I didn't realize it landed during the time I was going to be away until I went to write it on the calendar. I could have easily changed the appointment date but without hesitation, my son said he would take our cat to this appointment.
We had many text conversations after the surgery:
"Just got Jet back now and settled. He's got his cone and being very pathetic. I have to limit his food and keep him from running or jumping and I've got to give him the pain killer tomorrow and Saturday."
"He's fine now, he really didn't like the cone, he got it off about four times before I finally got it on him properly. I'm supposed to limit his food but he was reaaaly hungry. Also brought out the no-tip bowl so he could eat comfortably. He is finally resting on my bed and seems at ease."
We had several more "conversations" involving swelling, one more trip to the vet to ensure the swelling was not out of the ordinary, litter box accidents due to the fact the cone on Jet's head seemed to affect his ability to judge the space he required to do his business, vomit and a few other stressed out moments over the course of the next few days.
I drove home from Mom's as early as I possibly could (after one final text about the alarm going off in the middle of the night due to a power outage and the last I heard, my son and the cats were all nestled in safely in his room).
This "growing up" and "being responsible" business is hard. And nerve wracking. And scary.
My son is seventeen years old. He has led a quiet and sheltered life. I have run interference for him when the chips are down and he really hasn't had a great deal of stress, other than homework, exams and school work.
He wasn't prepared for this. But he survived.
It was hard being on the other side of the country as my son faced adult responsibilities on his own. There was nothing life threatening or earth shattering going on. He was simply nervous and overwhelmed and (I think) tired of being the one responsible for another living being's well being.
Yes, I know the feeling well. "I'm in over my head and I need a little help here!"
I've been there and done that. And when I was seventeen (going on eighteen) I needed a lot of help.
I was two months older than my son is right now, when I got married.
I was three and a half months shy of turning eighteen when I had my first child.
I needed help. And my mom stepped up to the plate and took over for a while when I was not capable.
Yes, I overreacted. I wanted to bail my son (and our cat) out. I wanted to be there. But I couldn't. If it had been an emergency, I could have come home. I had several people he could call if it had been an emergency. But it wasn't.
It was just hard. Really hard (at the moment).
The logical side of my brain was telling me this was okay. It would actually be good for him to walk through hard things on his own and find his own way through. This was not an emergency. It was just uncomfortable and inconvenient.
I walked in the door at the end of my five day absence and expected everyone to "need" me. They didn't.
I came home to a calm, cool and collected (and a little wiser and more mature) young man.
I came home to a little black cat looking slightly pathetic but mostly resigned to the restrictions his "cone of shame" provided.
I came home to two happy cats, who had been well loved, well fed and everything was under control.
By the time I walked in the door, all I had to do was sit back and listen to the stories. I wish my son would have "written a little blog about it" because his words were priceless. He painted a picture in my mind with the words he used.
He started with the way our New Cat looked and felt when he came home after this life-altering surgery. My son said he plopped down on the floor and looked up at him as if to say,
"My life is over..."
Well, our kitty is in fine form and my son took one step into adulthood.
You don't grow when life is comfortable, easy and someone else is taking care of your worries.
You grow and evolve when life gets messy, complicated and uncomfortable.
Life doesn't end when you walk in your door with that little ball of fur (or bouncing baby boy). It is only just beginning.
You grow and learn with each and every uncomfortable, messy (and smelly) step.
Life and love is not all sunshine and roses but after you weather some rainy weather, you are better prepared for the storms.
In the end, you don't focus on the rain. You remember the rainbow and the sweet smell of rain in the air (or the fresh scent of Febreeze after the mess is cleaned up).
Focus on the sunshine but be grateful for the knowledge you have weathered some turbulent weather and survived.
Be satisfied with the knowledge that you did it once and you can do it again. Because life has a way of helping you grow and expand your horizons whether you like it or not.
Life is full of "growing pains".