Sunday, May 13, 2018

Motherhood Is Not for the Weak by Jenn McKinlay

Several years ago, the Hub called me from work and said, "Darlin', I have a problem."

"What's up?" I asked.

"The cat peed in my shoes," he said.

I put my hand over my mouth so he couldn't hear me laugh. Chubs was our sixteen-year-old cat, who had been with me since college. He was technically my first born -- yes, even though he had fur he was still my baby. 

Chubs - before senility kicked in


"I'm sitting at my desk," he said. "And I keep smelling this awful stink. I'm sniffing and sniffing and finally I realize it's my shoe."

Now I had to hold the phone away from my mouth so he couldn't hear me howl.

"I can't even imagine how many people I've offended today," he said.

"You poor thing," I said. "You know Chubs is senile. You have to watch where you put your shoes. He thinks they're mini litter boxes."

"Yeah, I know," he said.

"Tell you what," I said. "The boys will be up in a few minutes and we'll come by and bring you a fresh pair of shoes."

"And socks?" he asked.

"Sure."

"I love you," he said.

"As you should," I said.

About two weeks after this, I was sitting at my desk and I started to smell this hideous stink. It would assault my senses and disappear. I sniffed my Keds. Yep. Chubs got my shoes. Normally, I could roll with the pet and child shenanigans, but on that day I fell into a funk and stayed that way. A real mean red sort of a day.

I told the Hub, "I don't know what's wrong with me, the boys are rambunctious, the puppy ate a Lego, and the cat peed in my shoes, you know, same old same old, but I can't shake this mood."

He looked at me with one eyebrow raised. We both knew that there were only two other times that I had had such black days. A couple of weeks after we conceived each child, I had a day where I just wanted to punch someone in the throat. I didn't, but I sorely wanted to.

Five days later (on April Fool's Day -- Ha ha! -- NOT) just to end the speculation, I bought a pregnancy test. It was one of those that took all three minutes for the second line to appear. Hub and I stood there shaking our heads. "That can't be right."

I went out to the store and bought two more. This time I ponied up the money for the digital kind that said, "Pregnant or Not pregnant." Both said "Pregnant." 

Hub was delighted and I was catatonic. How could this have happenend? I had finally, after months of waffling, gotten to the place where I was done making babies. I'd given away all of my maternity clothes, baby clothes and was just beginning to unload the baby furniture. 

The next week was a rollercoaster of emotions, riding up the anticipatory ramp of "oh, a baby" to hurtling down the backside of "oh, gees, I have to give birth again". Up and down from pure joy to utter despair and back again. Then I woke up one day, and I knew something was dreadfully wrong. I sobbed, "But I don't want to lose this baby." 

Despite my catatonic state, I had started shopping for a pregnancy journal and had bickered over names with the Hub three times. Hooligan 2, who was not quite two, had demanded to read the book _The New Baby_ every night. He picked it out on his own which I took as a good sign that he'd be okay as the middle child. Hooligan 1 had begun lobbying to name the baby Thomas the Tank Engine. 

I called my doctor and he rushed me in to see what was up. Hub and the boys came with me. The Doc talked to us about what was happening and then they left me to change into the lovely paper outfit you get to wear for an examination. I disrobed, taking off my shoes first. The stink hit me right between the nostrils and I almost doubled over. The cat had peed in my shoes! 

So now this wonderful man, Dr. Cohen, who had brought both of my sons into the world, was going to have to sit in between my feet which reeked of cat pee and give me an exam. Is there a nastier smell? How does one explain this to one's ObGyn? "It's not really me. My cat peed in my shoes." Uh huh. Yeah, I said nothing and hoped he wouldn't notice. Right.

When the Doc finished his exam, he pronounced me about six weeks along but there were some concerns, and I would have to be monitored closely. He left and the Hub and the boys returned to the exam room. Hub's nose wrinkled and he asked, "What is that smell?"

"Chubs peed in my shoes," I said.

"Naturally," he sighed. "Did you tell the Doc?"

"I couldn't really work it in," I said.

Doc returned and mapped out all of the possible scenarios. We braced ourselves for the worst. Unable to contain myself or even try to be cool, I blurted out that our cat was senile and had peed in my shoes.

"One cup hydrogen peroxide, one tablespoon baking soda and one drop of liquid hand soap," Doc said. "That will take the cat pee smell out of anything."

I tried it later that day and he was right. It completely wiped out the smell. Amazing.

Sadly, I eventually lost the baby. Hub and I were crushed. We didn't even know we wanted another until the dumb stick said it was a go. Our poor senile cat passed away the following year, and the Lego eating puppy lived a full life, chasing the hooligans around, until she, too, went over the rainbow bridge many years later. 

In the end, it turned out there were no more babies for us, but at least I got a cure all recipe for removing cat pee stank and we went on to adopt two kittens, who are now old cranky cats but at least they don't pee in our shoes, two more puppies, a fish who won't die, and, of course, King George, our latest rescue kitten. 

Why am I sharing this story on Mother's Day? Because I am the grandmaster of the overshare? Maybe. But I think it's because this was my first real loss as a Mom, and it was a staggering loss. It gave me a deeper understanding of the emotional cost of motherhood, even if it was just for the few weeks of a possibility and not, in this case, an eventuality. As the hooligans perch on the precipice of departure and all of my pets age, I know I am in for more losses, and that's okay, that's how it's supposed to be. Motherhood, of any kind, I have discovered is not for the weak. Also, the recipe for curing cat pee stink really works. You're welcome.



Happy Mother's Day to you and yours, be they finned, feathered, furry, or not!










67 comments:

  1. Oh, Jenn, I laughed, I cried . . . and, yes, motherhood is all that . . . .
    Happy Mother’s Day.

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    1. Happy Mother’s Say to you, too, Joan!

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  2. Thanks for the tears at six in the morning. I went through the same thing with baby #3, Jenn. And ya know, I turned those feelings into my first full-length short story. Also maybe i am weepy because I am on a solo retreat and I won't see either of my adult sons today. Motherhood is definitely not for wimps! On the other hand, it has brought me my greatest joys. Worth every angst.

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    1. The highest highs and the lowest lows - absolutely, Edith! Totally worth it.

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  3. That story did not turn out as I expected it to. Very poignant, Jenn.

    All three of my daughters were just here, and I realized last night it was exactly the same as it was when they were children, tucked into their childhood rooms for the last time, without husbands or children or other significant others. I admit to getting a little weepy about that.

    Happy Mother's Day, whether you are one or have one.

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    1. It’s those moments we cling to, Karen. Lovely.

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  4. I, too, laughed until I cried. Great story! And a sad, sad story as well. We have one daughter - lost one baby when our daughter was 6. After that, no more babies. I decided I was only meant to have one and she's been our joy all her life. Won't see her today as she was on duty last night - she's a L&D nurse at a local hospital. We had dinner with she and her husband the other night though. Yes, motherhood is not for wimps. Nor is cat parenting. Ha! Happy Mother's Day to one and all!

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    1. Hugs, Kay. I like to think the loss makes me more appreciative of the Hooligans when they are full of shenanigans.

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  5. Love you so much, dear Jenn. I am honored to know you.
    If I had known you sooner, there are several items that I might not have had to throw away.

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    1. Hugs, Hank. Dang, that choke me up. Love you, too!

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  6. Chuckles and tears before 7 a.m., Jenn: Thanks for the moving post. Happy Mother's Day to all!

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  7. Happy Mother's Day to Jenn and all of us! Now about the cat peeing in the shoes - wouldn't you feel it as soon as you put the shoes on? Wouldn't your foot feel wet? O, I suppose it had already dried. Ew, indeed!

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    1. Yep, totally dry. Chubs was a stinker - quite literally! LOL.

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  8. Oh Jenn, that is the most beautiful essay. thank you for sharing it and for being part of the heart of Jungle Red. Happy mother's day to every one of you! xoxo

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  9. Jenn, what a lovely story - thank you for sharing. I think I have something in my eye. ;-)

    No, motherhood is not for the weak. I am shipping The Girl off to college in the fall. She's only going to be 10 miles away, but...still. I bought her a new computer yesterday. "Do you need help setting it up?" "No, I'm good." It's been one thing after another and she thinks I'm slightly crazy for getting teary. She doesn't understand. Maybe when she's a mom. Fortunately, I'll still have The Boy at home for consolation hugs.

    Happy Mother's Day to all!

    PS: The Boy just got done taking care of the neighbors' cats. They were "making a statement" about being left behind, apparently, and the stink was awful. Too bad I didn't know about your stink solution.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Right behind you, Mary. H1 goes to college next year. I am equal parts thrilled and despondent- ugh!

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  10. This made me chuckle:

    "Chubs peed in my shoes," I said.

    "Naturally," he sighed. "Did you tell the Doc?"

    "I couldn't really work it in," I said.

    I'll be visiting my mom's grave today, the second Mother's Day without her and I'm feeling kind of sad about it so it was nice to have something to give me a laugh this morning.

    Happy Mother's Day to those who are and those who were that are now gone.

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    1. Oh, Jay, hugs to you. I'm missing my mom today, too.

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    2. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jay. Your mom was clearly a wonderful woman who raised a fine son. That is quite a legacy to leave in the world.

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  11. 'the heart of Jungle Red.' Exactly, Jenn. Motherhood is composed of heartbreak and love and loss. Here's to all who experience it--have a great day!

    p.s. Smallest cat is chewing on zipper pull on my new purse, but I think I'll overlook it--better than cat pee in my shoes!!

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    1. Happy Mother's Day to you, too, Flora!

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  12. Me: weeping and laughing at the same time. The cat peed in my shoes. A meme is born.

    For me, becoming a mother was my first time facing the potential of catastrophic loss. That's what comes with so much love.

    Happy Mother's Day!

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    1. Perfectly said, Hallie. I never knew my heart could love so much.

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  13. My third daughter was born along with the IUD. Three in three and a half years. More than enough. Right? But four years later I got pregnant again. So many mixed feelings. And then halfway through month #6, the baby died. Yes. It was awful. But the experience made my heart ready for another child. My dearest Eleanor, seven years younger than her sister. Motherhood is a tangled web. And yes, Hallie, the price of intense love is deep fear. Thank you Jenn.

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    1. Denise, that's lovely :) Happy Mother's Day to you!

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  14. That brought back tears and memories, both happy and sad. Losing a pregnancy is losing a child. Period. And losing a child is the gold standard for loss. We never stop grieving.

    But the sun is out and the flowers are blooming and it is spring on the tundra. New life, new sights, new hope.

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    1. "spring is on the tundra" -- I love that, Ann.

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  15. Oh, Jenn, how powerful, sad, lovely, and wonderful all at the same time!

    And as for the cat pee remover recipe - THANK YOU!

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  16. Thank you for that beautiful and beautifully written story, Jenn. And even though it was years ago, I am so sorry for your loss. I am yet another of the many, many mothers who have been there, so I know that time only heals to a point.

    Happy Mother's Day to all of you, Reds and commenting community alike. Thanks for brightening my days!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. We'd be nothing without our readers so thank you, too.

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  17. All right. That's it. Jenn is officially Superwoman! The rest of us can stand down now.

    Seriously, though, there are times in life when it feels like all you have left to look forward to is more loss. And then life turns around and gives you new joy. You had all of that in your story.

    As for me, I have no children, and my mother died 12 years ago, so this isn't really a day I celebrate, but I am pleased to be able to confirm for all the Reds that Jenn's special recipe is also the only thing I've ever found to take care of skunk stink on a very furry dog.

    Enjoy your day, Reds Moms!

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    1. This works on skunk spray, Gigi??? I don't have a lot of use for that in central AZ but my brother in MA is going to be thrilled!

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    2. I promise you it does. I've used it myself on a dog who would otherwise have been an outdoor dog for the rest of his life.

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    1. Happy Mama Day to you and yours, Wendy!

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  19. Thank you, Jenn, for sharing your story with us. To you, and all the mothers here, Happy Mother's Day. And now I'm off to see my own mother, who may or may not remember what today is but always seems happy to see me. These days, that's the joy.

    And, since I live with an elderly and possibly senile cat, thanks for the recipe -- it is needed.

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    1. Happy Mother's Day, Christine. I am so glad you can find the joy - sometimes that is life's biggest challenge!

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  20. Oh, Jenn, you made me laugh and cry. Losing a baby, even an unplanned baby, is so hard. Thanks for sharing with us.

    And thanks for the cat pee recipe!!! Not that I'm in any hurry to try it out, mind you, but two out of our three cats had UTIs last year and I could have used it then!

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    1. Enjoy your adorable granddaughter, Debs. Good luck with the aging cats! Oy.

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  21. Jenn, thank you for over sharing. I laughed and cried along with you. I may want to slap whoever said that motherhood was easy, boy do they have a kit of explaining to do.
    I am excited to get the cat pre recipe.. why does it seem like I'm the only one who ever smells it when the accidents do happen. (Our previous Tigger was 10yrs old and suddenly I noticed he didnt make it to the litter box, I could smell the horrid stench but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Hubby just laughed and said "i cant smell anything, you must be imagining things". My mother-in-law came over and I asked her if she smelled it.. of course she did. We found the area.. decided it was very off of Tigger to do this so we took him to the vet to be checked out. We discovered his sugar was over 600 😒😒 and we had to make a decision.. we spent a TON of money on insulin (human insulin) for him.. I gave him injections for 2 weeks, our Tigger was absolutely miserable.. I knew deep down we were only trying to help him, and he was ready to give up. He was the best kitty ever. He passed over the rainbow bridge and all I could hope was that my dad was there waiting for him to sit with his buddy.
    Wow, now I've shared too much.
    I think we all have those "OMG" moments and those moments we wish we didnt have to deal with, but in the end, maybe years later when we figure it out.. we are stronger within
    Great big hugs to youπŸ’œπŸ’œ
    And I hope everyone reading this has a Happy Mother's DayπŸ’œπŸ’œ❤❤😚

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    1. Hugs, Lily. I love the image of your dad meeting Tigger. That's beautiful and not an overshare at all :)

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  22. Jenn, what a wonderful Mother's Day piece. Because being a mother is all of those things you talked about, joy and loss and the little disasters of cats being in shoes. After five years of trying and doctors, I finally got pregnant, and my husband and I were overjoyed, but it was a tubal pregnancy and the joy was short-lived. But, even with one tube, I went on to have two miracle babies, a daughter and a son. Still, I think of myself as a mother of three.

    Happy Mother's Day to all today, whether it be human children or fur children. In fact, I think my daughter thought that her baby brother was both when she first saw him. He was rather hairy and had some initially had some hair on his back. Her first statement about him was, "Look Mommy, he has fur."

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    1. Oh, Kathy, that's precious. Hooligan 1 was deeply disappointed that H2 wasn't a train. He had no use for babies. LOL.

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  23. This is a beautiful piece. Thank you, Jenn

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    1. Thank you, Rhys! Much love to you and John!

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  24. A classic Jenn entry: smart, funny, thoughtful, helpful, and honest! Your hooligans are very lucky to have such an amazing woman for their mother.

    Regarding the cat pee, a good friend had a cat pee incident this week, and I just sent her your recipe!

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    1. Thanks, Ingrid! Hope the recipe helps - LOL!

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  25. Motherhood is definitely not for the weak. It opens up many new emotions. We have one son; believe me one was enough. He is 40 now, but I still walk on eggshells around him at times, hoping for the best, hoping he's working through his problems. Other times he is my soul mate with his snarky sense of the ridiculous. I guess motherhood is one long streak of perpetual worry. And joy. And heartbreak. Some of you know I lost my mom two weeks ago today. The last year was constant worry; the last four months was grim. My mom had a long, rich life. She was never afraid to try new things. She grew up during the Depression and actually came to love moving from place to place as her dad looked for work. Mom had tremendous courage and coping skills which she needed with her two youngest children. She had five and one miscarriage. My sister Annette became ill when she was eleven, and the disease destroyed most of her kidney function. Mom eventually learned how to run a dialysis machine at home so Annette didn't have to be hauled to the hospital for dialysis 3 times a week. My little brother is mildly autistic so Mom always worried about him. And tried to get answers and find schools for him. Believe me, back in the 60s no one knew anything about autism. I have so many memories over the years. She could get mad at us and you did not want a "dingbustit!" flying at you as that was the ultimate curse. My little brother brought a photo album over recently. I had forgotten how pretty Mom was in her late 40s when I was pretty much leaving the nest and off to college.
    Oh well. I've rambled on long enough. Here's to all the moms.

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    1. Pat, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman. XO

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  26. Loved your story! So sorry for you loss! I have a dog with dementia so I understood your Cat issues totally! Lolol

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  27. That is motherhood in a nutshell. Laughing and crying at the same time, and every once in a while wanting to punch someone in the throat, but resisting because you're a mom and have to set a good example. (((Jenn))) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Leni! Happy Mother’s Day!

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  28. Jenn you are so real. Lovely share. πŸ’πŸ’•πŸ’ž

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