Journal Entry

Cat Reminds Me About Parenting

My lovely husband put up a gazebo outside my back door just before my pool so that I could put my outdoor wicker furniture underneath. There’s a lot of foliage in my backyard, and we were struggling with the debris affects, when the wind blew. Every time I try to sit on the beautiful outdoor furniture I had to clean it first. So my husband bought me this highly expensive portable gazebo, that not only gives me the opportunity to write outside because I can see the screen, but allows me to have shade from the hot Texas sun.

I keep a pretty tidy house, so my cat has realized when I put something new in my house or in the backyard. He will typically sniff it until every inch of it has been covered with his nose and determined that it is not life-threatening. So this morning when he came out to inspect the gazebo, I watched with considerable attention to him arch his back, his ears shift back-and-forth, and the dilation of his eyes. He wanted to investigate.

My cat also climbs trees and jumps from the tree to the roof, back to the portico and then down. Well, he got up on the portico and decided it would be a good idea to investigate the top of the gazebo via a flying squirrel trapeze act sort of thing. Naturally, he flew from the portico to the corner of the fabric gazebo and realized his mistake instantly. He had not taken into consideration that it might be a material other than the firm surface that he’s used to flying around in our backyard. He just blindly leaped for it!

He fell hard! I am extremely thankful that cats fall on their feet because he dropped like a ton of bricks. The very first thing I wanted to do was jump up and see if he was OK. But I knew if I did that, he would run away. He walked gingerly away from the scene of the crime, limping on one of his front legs and one of his back legs. Probably from a prior altercation with another cat in the neighborhood? Because it’s only about a 7-foot drop and cats can do that pretty easily. Or at least mine can.

I’m sitting out underneath my new gazebo, drinking my very lovely hazelnut coffee and staring off into the calmness of my pool that is wrapped in beautiful green and floral foliage, and suddenly it hit me that my cats actions reminded me of my three teens and two young adults, who in my opinion, continue the same fearful leap out into the world; based on mere faith.

And then it hit me that maybe what I should do is just watch. Stay out of it? Let them fall? They know that their footing should be on solid ground and yet they continue to put their feet on fabric. They continue to leap out and test their boundaries and while it is ever so dangerous with humans versus cats, it is vitally important that they learn how to limp on their own. It’s important that they learn their lessons. That they understand what they can and cannot do. That limitations beset with natural consequences. Sigh…

I love my cat so much that sometimes I really worry about him. I worry about the fact that a car will hit him. Or that the bobcat in our neighborhood will get him. Or even that a neighbor will fall in love with him, and put him inside their home and take my cat forever. He likes to go into cars to sleep and I’m worried somebody’s going to drive off with him and not know where he came from. I’m afraid he’s going to die in a hot car. There are all kinds of things that terrified me about letting my little tiny boy wonder, but I realize something along time ago. This boy was born on the Bayou by a mom who abandoned him. He is wild. He is an outdoor cat. To lock him up inside the house would be like putting a human in a jail cell. I would never unjustly do that to this animal and I would rather him live his life on his own terms, then to put him in jail because I am terrified he is going to be hurt.

It’s a hard thing to do being a mom. It’s guilt and second-guessing and an undeniable fear; and all of the anguish that comes with the fact that these human beings have brought so much joy into our lives. There is such an abundance of love that we can’t imagine what our life would be like without them.

This morning if my cat taught me anything it was just to calm down. Let them live the same way my parents had to let me live. It’s a humbling existence in the reality of it all. It’s just not an option.

Thanks for listening…

Rebecca Nietert

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