Get Back, Honky Cat
Today’s post is one that kind of hurts me to write, so I shall begin with a soothing layer of Elton John.
Ahhh, that’s better. Also: cocaine is one hell of a drug.
Remember back in January when I was all bent out of shape about what the arrival of the baby would do to my relationship with Tootsie? And how I was bound and determined not to let her get downgraded to “just an animal” in my mind? Well, it is time to talk about that.
[Here is where I would normally insert a recent picture of Tootsie, except that I HAVE NO RECENT PICTURES OF TOOTSIE. Sigh.]
The night we left for the hospital, I took a picture of Tootsie with my cell phone – partly because I wanted to capture the look of “OH, SHIT” that she was somehow managing to express, but mostly because I knew that when I returned, she would no longer be the baby of the house.
[Here is where I wanted to insert the picture of Tootsie I took that night, but unfortunately I got a new phone in late April and have subsequently lost that photo, which I didn't realize until now. Sigh.]
Up until having Sadie, I always, always missed Tootsie when I was away from home. Even when I was at work, I’d take one look at her (framed!) picture on my desk and look forward to her OMGI’MSOGLADYOU’REHOME snuggles I’d receive that evening. When I was in the hospital, though, I’m pretty sure the only time I thought about Tootsie was when I asked my Mom to give her fresh water and make sure she had enough food. And that’s perfectly normal, I know, since I had bigger, more vaginally-challenging issues at hand. And to my credit, the focal point I used during labor was the little cartoon of Tootsie I asked Brad to draw on the whiteboard at the foot of my bed.
[Here is where I would insert the picture of said drawing that I KNOW I took, but have no clue of its whereabouts.]
But I know for a fact that I did not actively miss Tootsie while I was in the hospital, and when I arrived back at home with Sadie in tow amidst a flood of postpartum tears, I didn’t even bother to seek her out.
[Here is where I justify all of that by explaining that HI, I had just HAD A BABY, and my Mom was staying at the house, and houseguests always make Tootsie skittish and prone to hiding, so it's not like she was all up in my grill and I was ignoring her.]
Add to this the fact that we were sleeping on the 2nd floor (and not on the 3rd floor, where our bedroom/Tootsie’s refuge is located), and I just didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities to even cross paths with her. I figured things would even out a little more after my Mom left and we could all settle into a more regular routine.
Then, my Mom left. Tootsie would venture downstairs more often, but still steered pretty clear of Sadie (and therefore, me). But any time I had to dash upstairs for a change of clothes or my toothbrush? Girlfriend was constantly at my feet, all “I LOVE YOUUUUU!” and “PET MEEEEEEEEE!” and “NOW I SHALL CHASE YOUR ANKLES!”
[Here is where I wish I could tell you I had a very heartwarming reaction to her pleas for my attention.]
Internet, as you may have heard, babies are needy. NEEEEEEDY. They are adorable little warm and fuzzy bundles of constant, straight up need. Honestly, I didn’t think the neediness was affecting me at all (I liked that she needed me so much!), but then Sadie would be hungry after what seemed like two nanoseconds since the last (painful) feeding and I’d find myself thinking I JUST WANT TEN MORE MINUTES, TEN STINKING MINUTES to eat a bowl of cereal and stare into space without someone NEEDING something from me. My reaction would always kind of surprise (and shame) me, especially because it made Sadie out to be the cause of my frustration and NO! She’s not! I love her! I love that she’s here! I just…like cereal, is all.
When I’d run upstairs and find myself immediately confronted with Tootsie’s special brand of PET-ME-OR-I’LL-DIE guilt, I’d get annoyed. Annoyed. And because Tootsie is a cat and not my offspring, I’d let myself be annoyed. HERE, here’s a pat on the head already, now GOD, get out of my way, CAT – I have, like, 5 minutes to brush my teeth and shove down some semblance of lunch and I don’t you fucking dare try to bite my ankles – WHAT IF I WAS CARRYING THE BABY?! – please, just go take a nap somewhere because I CANNOT DEAL WITH YOUR NEEDINESS RIGHT NOW.
[Here is where I would insert another picture of Tootsie, but honestly, I know looking at pictures of her right now would make me feel even worse than I already do.]
Four and a half months since Sadie was born, things have smoothed out quite a lot. We are back to sleeping upstairs in our bedroom/Tootsie’s lair (much to her delight). She is no longer deathly afraid of That Hairless Cat (just semi-deathly afraid), and will even let Sadie pat her head on occasion. After the baby is in bed, it’s not uncommon for Tootsie to take up residence in my lap as we watch [read: fall asleep in front of] some TV. And every day when all three of us return from work and daycare, Tootsie is right there at the door to welcome us home, just like she always was pre-Sadie (and yes, I take the time to pet her and love her and give her a good scratch behind the ears).
[Here is where I am relieved that Tootsie seems to have made it through this whole transition relatively unscathed, and I am grateful I no longer feel so frustrated with her demands for my attention.]
[And here is where I confess that, even though the frustration went away, the way I felt about Tootsie before the baby has never really come back.]
Make no mistake: I love Tootsie very much. I always have and I always will. But it’s different now. I cringe to admit it, but it’s true. I don’t look at her and merely see “ANIMAL,” but I no longer see “BABY.”
Here is where Tootsie says, “Bitch, please. I AM an animal, and one who is very grateful you no longer treat me like an infant, you damn freak. Now fill up my food dish. And tell Hairless Cat to stay out of my stuff.”
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