Single Life with My Cat

My Cat

 

Hi, welcome to the honest truth.  

I realized last week while writing a lengthy email one afternoon that got guillotined in cyber-ho*mail-hell, that I have a hard time accepting my reality as a mother and wife with a dog and cat because I had envisioned my life as something different from a young age.  I envisioned my life to include a cat and maybe a significant other here and there or forever.  That way, I could have all the freedom I wanted to do anything.  I could do all the plays I could fit into my schedule.  I could dance as many nights (not that kind!) as I wanted to make time for.  If I wanted to take watercolor classes, I could.  I could continue an academic career and life.  You get the picture.  

You all know how much I admire my mom, and I mean all of this in the most loving, and flattering way possible, Mom.  Well, somehow along the way, I decided that the only way I could accomplish everything that I wanted in life, which has morphed over the years, was to be single with a cat.  Having a single, independent mom influenced my life.  We always had a cat, or two, or three, but always one main cat and a stray or two.  My mom accomplished a lot while raising me.  She worked full-time.  She got an MBA.  Then she started working on an Arts degree and then a Master’s in Communications.  I think I admired her freedom and her ambition, something I mirrored when I got to high school and college.  Praise the stars, well, in some ways.  I don’t know if the burn out at the end was worth me working THAT hard.  (I earned my B.A. in English when I was 19, almost 20.)  I also can’t say that it has paid off to have worked so hard yet – for me.  I can say that a crazy-busy life feels normal for me.  

Well, during all this craziness that my mom and I lived in with our cats, she had romantic relationships here and there, but she didn’t seem to need them.  She had her independence, her freedom, and other significant relationships that trumped romantic ones.  The cats made us happy, too.  Does this paint any picture of how I admired her life and the way she lead it?  I always wanted to be like her.  I hear that I am like her in a lot of ways.  (Yes!)  I am a product of my parents – the good, the bad, the everything.  

Let me bring this back around to my preconceived notion that I have fought over the last 8 years now in an attempt to accept my reality – finally.  Well, I ended up living with a boyfriend, now called Hubby.  I expected the living together part, but not the getting married part.  This all happened within a couple years of graduating college.  After 5 years of marriage, we had a child, also not expected, causing further emotional and mental anguish for me.  And I didn’t enjoy the first two years of mothering, so put that in the “Accept Your Reality” column, too.  Also, my pregnancy caused me to leave an active, fulfilling performance life in theatre and dance and my then-latest hobby, ice skating.  I was about 3 months pregnant when the last play I performed in ended its run.  I felt some resentment.  I think Hubby was excited because having a child would Rapunzel me.  I wouldn’t have the freedom to do my arts and be away from home.  He’d have me locked up with him the way he’d wanted it from the beginning.  (I’m super-social.  He’s super-not.  It causes me to feel Rapunzeled.  I digress.)

I looked at life the last few years as this: ‘I have a husband, a good man.  I should feel fulfilled, but I don’t.’  Then when Little Guy came, I added ‘I have a child, and I should feel fulfilled, but I don’t.’  I kept looking at it like I was on this path that wasn’t supposed to be mine because it felt so far away from living that single, fulfilled life with my cat that I had wrapped with care in purple silk in my mind.  Now, I look at my life with more acceptance, even if it’s new.  This is my life.  I have my cat, my soul-cat.  I have significant relationships that fulfill me.  I will accomplish everything I want to and that I set my mind to.  My mom did all that stuff I mentioned above and had me as her bonus along with it.  In my life, the husband and the child and the dog are just bonuses on my way to feeling acceptance and fulfillment in my life.  They’re like finding two prizes in a box of Cracker Jack, instead of one.  You expect one prize.  Finding a second is icing on the cake.  

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7 Responses to Single Life with My Cat

  1. Lynnski says:

    Mom here. This post made my eyes leak.

    You continue to astonish and delight me. Thank you for complimenting me on the things that actually brought me as much guilt for being away from mothering as they brought me pleasure and accomplishment. You could have resented it, but I see you aspired to my special brand of insane involvement.

    The danger in such involvement is in feeling that effort does not equal accomplishment because of being so scattered. You forgot to mention that it took me 6 and a half years to get the MBA. A more focus effort would have lasted a fraction of that time. Getting a degree or hitting a milepost feels really good after a long effort, but damn, it can make you tired. I do understand why you want only one job.

    Let me say how much I admire you, too. Your ability to manage your household, a marriage, and a child, and have three part-time jobs blows my mind. And you’re still married. You made a better choice of partner than I did, and you’ve stuck with it. My marriage broke up at eight years; yours is still going strong, and that’s admirable.

    You have learned the secret of trying to be fulfilled in spite of circumstances: just do it, do your best, and accept the reality of conflicting feelings along with the things that cause them. Somehow you become the fulfillment you seek, and if you’re lucky, your friends and family discover the enrichment with you. Some don’t; some won’t; some can’t. Those that do are your treasures.

    You are my greatest joy and treasure. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy just talking to you, especially lately. I love you so much.

  2. jenniphur says:

    Thank you, Mom. Now you almost made MY eyes leak! I understand your guilt that accompanied your pleasure and accomplishment, first-hand.

    I hope that later on in life, Little Guy and I can do some of the fun things together like you and I did, such as painting classes, if he has any interest. I always felt included in your life, rather than pushed out of it. I cherish that part of our relationship with all the other stuff. After having you as a mom, maybe that makes me a better candidate to be a mother than I thought. Hm, next post idea?

    Anyway, I love you.

  3. ctanglefoot says:

    Greetings Jenn, I think the choices you take are of your making, the path you walk of your choosing, and how you walk it your own personal journey. We share that journey with an ever changing pack of people, some are in for the long haul, some just a touch stone along the way. Regardless, where we have been – and how we accept and deal with this, is who we are today. Don’t keep from attaining your goals in the theatre, dance, or fingerpainting with your tadpole because if you do, you hurt not just yourself but those on your journey with you. Spread your wings and we will fly with you. Give your tadpole wings and your will fly with him.

    Being a single mother is hard, rewarding, and freeing in its chains I applaud your mother for the excellent job she did, and the wonderful sense of life she instilled in you. I am envious in her education, but then reading this made me realise there was never something I wanted to learn to a BS, BA, or MBA degree and suddenly I am good with this.

    And god I hope I said this all right.

  4. seizui says:

    Wow. I really want to just say, wow, but I want to add how frightening insights can actually be, sometimes. I read this, and saw my life . . .

  5. jenniphur says:

    Cele – Thanks for sharing your journey with me. Thanks for the affirmation and encouragement to keep dreaming and working for what I want in life. I hope Little Guy wants to share in it, too, and maybe he’ll share with me in his interests, as long as the dump truck phase ends at some point.

    Sei – I have told you before that I always saw a child or children in your future. Your cat surprises me. I’m glad the post spoke to you. This feels like a condensed version of a reply.

  6. Angie says:

    Jen…

    What an incredibly gut-honest post. Thank you so much for sharing. As I read it, I wondered how my daughter views me… I have raised her alone since she was 10 months old and now she is almost eleven years old. She LOVES cats, yet our residences have not allowed for one. I am nearing the purchase of my very first home and thus, the cats are beginning to peek around the corner. Thank you for your post.

  7. sideon says:

    You all make my eyes leak in the best sort of way.

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