It takes a special kind of talent to have your kids think you are a great mom and a horrible mom at exactly the same time. Thanks to a couple of tiny kittens I appear to have mastered this.
My brother knew when he called me that I have a soft heart for animals, especially if they’ve had a hard life, and the kittens he was asking to drop off had that in spades.
He knew I couldn’t keep them, but wondered if I could give them some shelter and love just for a few days while he tries to find a home for them.
Before they ever came through my door I announced to my daughters that I would rather be chased by wild dogs than own two more cats, but that they needed to help me give these babies a little love for a few days.
That was Sunday. By last night one of my daughters was sobbing in her bed that my resolve had not crumbled at all and that no, we could not keep them.
Privately I have to admit that my resolve has trembled more than once, but if you saw these babies and knew their story you’d understand.
Out in the middle of nowhere my brother was walking in the woods and these kittens, a brother and sister perhaps eight weeks old, came tentatively out of the underbrush towards him with meows so tiny you almost couldn’t hear them.
They were skinny, soaking wet and shaking, obviously having been on their own for a while. But it was also obvious they had been around people at some point, because their pitiful meows were full of hope, not fear, when they saw my brother.
It wasn’t their fault that they were born and became the castoffs of someone who couldn’t be bothered to take responsibility for not spaying their animal. My brother knew he couldn’t take them home, but that maybe there was someone out there who would treat these babies better.
The relationship this brother and sister have is sweet, and seeing them interact these past few days in my home offers insight into what it must have been like in the woods alone.
He, the larger and stronger of the two, seems to protect her and comes quickly if she cries. He is also entirely fixated on my birds, which makes me wonder if he caught one or two to feed them.
I hope seeing this close bond between two furry little siblings teaches my daughters a thing or two, and if they are ever lost in the woods together that they would try to help one another at least half as earnestly.
She is a curious and playful little thing with six toes on all four feet, with the front ones so pronounced it looks like she has mittens on with opposable thumbs inside.
They are beautiful and affectionate and sweet and innocent - I cannot fathom what sort of heart beats inside the person who would set them down in the middle of the woods and walk away.
My daughters can’t either, and this experience has sadly made them wonder about humanity. It’s a lesson I wish no one ever had to learn.
But my daughters are making up for someone else’s wrongdoing with gusto, and I am proud of their kind hearts. Whatever hurts these kittens had are healing with the love of my daughters’ pillows at night and as many bowls of food as they can stuff into their tiny bellies.
And my daughters are proud of me for being the kind of mom who would step up to take care of these babies; they think I’m a good mom.
But because I say we cannot keep them, they think I am a terrible mom.
Someday they will understand that I am already dangerously close to the “crazy lady” limit on pets, and that we simply cannot add to the menagerie. Someday they will understand that I am actually allergic to cats, and the two we have already send me reaching for allergy pills every other day.
For now, all they can see are two beautiful black and white kittens who love them and cuddle with them and need somebody, kittens that someone threw out in the woods like garbage to be scared and hungry and cold. That, they will never understand.
My daughters want to save them, and for that I forgive them for being mad at me. But I tell them for these kitties it is someone else’s place to give them a home, we are just a healing stop along the way there.
If that person is you, please call me at the Winona Post. My daughters won’t be, but I will be grateful.