The kids are my world. I try every day to be the best Stay at Home Mom I can possibly be. Some days I think I've nailed it. Other days I call for a mulligan. They are healthy and (mostly) happy and growing beautifully, so I'm doing my job. The trouble is that I'm neglecting to let myself deal with things that don't relate directly to them.
My cat, Yoda, came into my life as a kitten so small I could hold him in the palm of my hand. He and I moved from Port Orange, Florida to New Smyrna Beach, back to Port Orange, then to Daytona, then to two apartments in Chicago, and, finally, to the house we've lived in for the past seven years. He also stayed with two sets of friends when landlords threatened to evict me if they discovered any pets on the premises (whoops). He was skittish and clumsy, but sweet and soft. He started to get skinny in recent months. Then too skinny. He ate like he'd never seen food before, sometimes even biting my hand trying to get a piece of cheese or something from me. He was vomiting large pools of the worst-smelling liquid everywhere. Then he started to defecate in random places, finally in the center of the kitchen before I looked at him and said, "Okay. I hear you. It's time." He was 14 years old.
I had to take him to the vet that day by myself so my husband could stay with the kids. He offered to do it, but I said Yoda and I had been together even longer than we had, so I needed to be with him to the end. On his last night, he got into bed with us and purred and snuggled and cuddled with us for the first time in a long time. He was telling us it was okay.
That whole last morning with Yoda, I didn't cry. When Ryan got home and had to say goodbye, I didn't cry. On the way to the vet, I didn't cry. Once I got into the office and explained why I was there, the tears started to fall. I accompanied him into the room, crying more by the second, and found that my normally-terrified-at-the-vet cat showed no fear. He cuddled up to me once more, then lay down and seemed to be happily accepting this fate. Then, he was gone. The doctor and assistant offered me a moment alone with him and I took it, sobbing, and petting him. Then, suddenly, I was done. I knocked on the door they had just exited through because I didn't want to leave Yoda alone in there, but I needed to get out. They were kind and understanding and I left with an empty carrier.
I cried walking to the van, then pulled it together so I could safely drive home. I sobbed at stop signs, then blinked it all away to continue. Luckily we only live a few blocks from the vet. I got into the house and Ryan met me, also crying, and holding our 10-week-old. We hugged the awkward hug around a baby, and cried together for a moment before our toddler came running over. Once I saw him, I didn't sob again. I had a few tearful moments that afternoon, but I never really broke down. I didn't want my babies to see me upset. I figured I could deal with it later, when they were happily asleep. It's a part of motherhood I wasn't aware of until this happened.
I'm not sure there's a remedy for this. Maybe this will be the rest of my days as a mother: scheduling time I can grieve or handle things. Or maybe it would be better to let them see me get upset, I'm not sure. I want them to see me as a strong person, but also someone in touch with emotions, and I'm sure Ryan feels the same way as their father. Growing up, I didn't let people see me cry. I'd gotten much better about that over the years, at least with my husband, but suddenly that part of me came roaring back. I'll have to work on it. That's all we can ever do, isn't it? Find our weaknesses and work on them.
Yoda was one of the first creatures I was ever responsible for in "adulthood" and he was my buddy. I'm glad he's no longer suffering. I'll miss him and I loved him, and I think he knew both of those things. I'm glad he met both of our sons and I'll tell them stories about him as they grow up. It's hardly fair that pets are such a huge part of our lives for such a brief amount of time, but every moment you get to love them is worth it.
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