We have cats.
Three, to be exact.
Ellie, who my husband “inherited” from an ex-girlfriend. She’s somewhere in the ballpark of 17-18 years old and it feels like on a now-monthly basis we are shocked that she is still alive and seemingly healthy.
Gretchen, who I found at a local shelter shortly after Richard and I moved in together. Maybe 7 years old?
Merlin, who Richard and I stupidly adopted together from another shelter with the mindset that a male cat thrown into the mix would somehow help Gretchen and Ellie “get along”.
All three of the cats were, years ago, our babies. We played with them and snuggled them. We bought them special treats and toys. We allowed them to sleep in our bed. We worried about them while on vacation. We posted adorable photos of them basking in the sunniest spot, sprawled out on the hardwoods in our foyer. We joked about their jellybean toes.
And then our human babies came along.
For me, the cats became instantly annoying. It was one thing to use a lint roller on my own clothing before heading into work for the day, but I suddenly found myself doing more and more laundry, thanks to the infinite amount of cat hair which, by the way, sticks like Velcro to any and EVERYthing. I was so frustrated and actually starting to resent them altogether. Worrying about whether or not your baby is eating a puff or a fistful of cat hair is maddening! I STOPPED SITTING ON THE FLOOR to play with my kids because I was so disgusted by the little bits of cat hair that I’d later see plastered to the butt of my pants when I looked in the mirror. I created a system for when I was too busy to vacuum (or afraid to wake sleeping babies with the sound of the vacuum) in which I would cover a section of the rug in our living room with a blanket or two, always folded precisely, so that the cat hair was only on ONE side of the blanket. I did this so that our youngest could roll around and play without getting covered in hair! It worked for a little while, but then my toddler found it amusing to pick up the blanket and playfully whack me with it, which only made my cat-hair anxiety rise. I’ve essentially spent the past two years feeling physically uncomfortable in my own home—the home that I have worked so hard to create!!—which pretty much sucked.
The thing is, I vacuum as often as I can. We have a housekeeper come every other week. I wash and fold laundry nearly every other day. It’s still not enough. Cats are cats and they shed. Short of actually shaving them, there’s really nothing that can be done about it.
In recent months, and as my youngest is somehow already nearing toddlerhood, I’m trying so hard to change my mindset. I have to find a way to not let this bother me so much, because the cats aren’t going anywhere. I refuse to give a cat BACK to a shelter. They are a part of our family, whether it’s *convenient* for me or not. My boys love them.
I’m slowly learning to embrace the mess. I’m slowly learning that when anxiety gets the best of me and I just can’t deal with the mess anymore, I can ask for help, because it’s not MY mess. I’m slowly learning to push “start” on that little extra load of laundry and not stress about it.
My human babies are small and snuggly for such a fleeting moment in time, and I’m slowly learning that it's okay to sit in the floor.