Mamas

A while ago now, at the beginning of spring, I got a text from my neighbor: “We finally got the blind kitten to come inside.” For weeks, she faithfully set out food for the tiny feral kitten who turned up at her door step. The kitten could see only out of the corner of her eye. My neighbor trailed food inside of her kitchen in hopes that the kitten would come in from the wild and from the cold. And one day, her plan worked. And somehow later that evening, the nearly blind feral kitten, called “Baby kitty” by my neighbor’s son, scurried under the couch in my own home.

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Slowly, Baby kitty acclimated to the inside world. Her coat, copper calico and coal, became brighter as she roamed timid around our house. When she explored I noticed: as she struggled to see out of her squinted eye, she bobbed and weaved and wobbled—her path anywhere was anything but straight. Also, we noticed: she grew and grew at a spectacular pace. I think we attributed it to her now having a steady source of food. But– all of the signs were there. My vet didn’t catch them. I think my husband and I knew but were in denial. Baby kitty was pregnant. And one night, as I sat down to drink a cup of tea, she sat on the pillow on my lap, rolled over, and began labor.

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I delivered three of her kittens, but the fourth must have come in the early dawn: two storm-grey tabbies, one glossy gray, and a tiny black kitten, four daughters: all healthy– born blind, yes– but all gained full sight soon.  And so the kittens grew, wobbly and feisty, hurling havoc and then purring into pudding on your lap. As they began walking and running and playing more I noticed: they began walking like their blind mama, bobbing, weaving, wobbling. Their path anywhere was anything but straight: they, very literally, followed in their mama’s footsteps. Even though they could have walked differently, they didn’t.

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Once, I was a college student figuring out what I was supposed to do with my life. I was hesitant to follow in my own mother’s footsteps. I didn’t want to be a teacher as she was. I didn’t want to devote my life to the care of children as she did. I didn’t want to be gentle. I didn’t want to be quiet. I didn’t want to be kind. I didn’t want to be home. There was a time when I didn’t equate those qualities with success.

And now?

I have followed in my mother’s footsteps. And I am proud of that.

I am a teacher. I care for children at my church. I strive to be gentle and quiet and kind. I love being at home. My mom—she is wonderful. I could choose no better role model for my future children. She is selfless and compassionate: relentlessly giving, tirelessly loving, ferociously loyal. I know that my mother’s path hasn’t always been perfect. But– even though I can choose to walk differently– I won’t.

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