“She trots in with button sized pupils rimmed with fiery amber. There is no sloth, greed, anger, resistance, distrust, hate… none of that. It’s beyond pure and full of longing and love.She runs to me, clips her paws into my trouser legs. *Tch… those threads are ripped out now*. She looks at me “Pick me up momma”. I do and the trousers, the scratches, the hell day at work, the ever-disappointed folks and any tiff with the better half… all vanish. Soft silken fur with a warm cuddly bundle lie naked in my arms. A damp snout and an eager tongue greet my chin and neck. That’s my baby girl. And I’m her momma.”
Jennifer Aniston spoke of something very powerful. “I don't like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women — that you've failed yourself as a female because you haven't procreated. I don't think it's fair. You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn't mean you aren't mothering — dogs, friends, friends' children”. This really struck me. Mothering or being a mother is a powerful role. It involves nurturing, protecting, providing, caring for, teaching and so many many tireless (and thankless)activities by one hapless person. Nowhere, does it mention the need or requisite of a vagina or womb to begin this process. Else, we would shamelessly undermine the work of remand homes, foster homes, social workers and adopters.
I am not a mother. Not by the physical sense of having given birth. That doesn’t mean that I do not miss or imagine the idea of having my womb filled one day and experiencing the hilarious and serious joys of pregnancy followed by being armed with the lifelong weapon “I kept you in here for 9 months….”. Motherhood is a beautiful, amorous, unique experience. There was a time I was desperate to be a mother. I wanted a child and I wanted to do the whole 9-yards. I hadthe right man and I was ready. The man wasn’t and unfortunately, thereafter, the relationship and the desire died with me. Or so I thought. It doesn’t. It lies like a dormant volcano. Quiet and unprovoked. It just plays occasional moody tunes with the strings lining your heart and one fine day a whole symphony resonates. That’s when I adopted Elsa and a year after, Ella.
I thought it was all just a string of events that fell into my lap. It wasn’t. These were subconscious plans unknowingly orchestrated by me. I decided to take them on as babies. Mere infants with just one or two people telling me what to expect. There was no baby shower, no diapers or cribs, no baby things and no celebrations. It was me and voiceless little ones. I had to observe, be extremely patient, breathe, not complain about staying up nights, roll over and adjust sleeping positions, hunt for their little furry bodies in a pile of pillows etc. I had to unlearn and learn new ways to care for them, integrate them, medicate them, feed them, and love them. All of it came naturally. I was surprised at how well I coped. I assumed I would be a massive failure and out of pity, I would have to give them up. For me that was a clause that didn’t exist in my decision. They were coming home and growing old with me. There was no exchange, abandonment, giving up or any of the sorts. They maybe another species but I would be their mother and behave like one too.
Having them has changed me significantly. I am calmer, more patient (with them and others too), more conditioned for acceptance and looking forward to love in a different exchange. Over 2 years, there are stories, photos, instances, episodes, nightmares, fights, scolding, surprises and abundance of love. Each day is a new jungle theme at home. Today they break something, tomorrow they create something. Today they eat something and later they decide it’s not gourmet enough for their royal palates. Today they are well behaved and tomorrow they make up by being real rascals. Today they love each other and tomorrow they both question me as to why I brought the other one home. Today they are calm and tomorrow the newspaper and freshly laundered clothes see the ire of my attempts at disciplining them. No, you can’t train cats. I mean you could condition them but dare not train them. They feel insulted and have that “for real… I mean c’mon.” look on their faces. They have multiple personalities and each of those personalities is diabolical. Barely do you make peace with one and understand how to tackle it a new one springs up... almost like a fresh challenge in your face. My foster contact is always full of praises for my Elsa and Ella. He and his family gush over how cute they are, well behaved, loving, sit on laps and do not struggle or wiggle out, eat and drink EVERYTHING and play with other cats. NONE of that happens in my house. They treat my abode like the gangsta’s hideout and anything outside of these premises is remand and correctional facilities.
I don’t mind them at all. They love me and I love them. People’s concept of cats being selfish moody beings couldn’t be more tangent. They have a magnanimous and interesting personality. They are super expressive and very individualistic creatures. This only… a momma can see and understand. Elsa loves a good head scratch; Ella drools and snoozes on belly rubs. Elsa loves his privacy; Ella needs constant companionship. Elsa loves fish and chunks; Ella likes kibbles. Elsa is moody, bossy and stubborn; Ella is calm, feisty and fun. Elsa is always hungry and only wishes to sleep like a true tabby; Ella eats minimal and gallops and amuses herself every chance she gets. Elsa has dichromic green-blue eyes; Ella has fiery amber eyes. I could go on and this could be a book. But they love each other and me fiercely. They sense my absence and I deeply feel theirs when I am traveling or on the road. They wait for me at the door and I feel empty if I enter a house and they aren’t around doing their signature stretch and tumble over maneuver. I could go hungry but I dare not forget their food. Life, as I knew it, had changed.
Every plan, trip and me not being around involved thinking of ‘what about them’. They became the core of all decisions. Their presence and absence was the nucleus of my actions. Dad chided me about getting them home and then being a negligent pet parent. It took me a whole year and a stubborn Elsa in his teens for my father to understand that they wanted to be left alone to play and thrive and not have us constantly at them. They were to be fed minimally and allowed maximum breathing space. It was safe to say, my dad compared their upbringing to dogs. He assumed I was torturing them by keeping ‘em in a massive 2BHK to run amok, eat and sleep (yes…. such profound torture). But they are happy, playful, cute and cuddly and think up new adventures for me every day. I smack them and then I grab them and love them equally. They are smart enough to know that despite humans being aware of the big dilated pupil routine, it ACTUALLY works. That maneuver completely changes the expression and emotion on their faces and the ones evoked from us. Humans cease to be any form of force in front of our feline counterparts.
When I walk into a room and see Ella, I see a bundle of innocence in its purest form. I see pure love and I see 0 expectations except one of love that’s unconditional in its defined form. She is barely 2 palm sizes tall and white and tiny and in that vast space of a room, I see her button eyes longing for me to hold her. How can I not? How can anyone not? She was christened Minnie and was rescued and fostered with her twin brother Mouse. She gelled superbly well with 3 adult cats in the foster home and showed them all who’s boss at the tender age of 2 months. I loved her to bits as she reminded me of the wildness that’s laying trapped in my heart. My only apprehension lay in separating the siblings. I knew taking them both would be too much so I stuck to just taking Minnie as I needed a female to keep my Elsa in check and give him company. Both neutered, healthy and adorable as they explored each other post being friendzoned and devoid of any natural attraction. They look out for each other just as much as they beat each other up. Ella loves dad and will NEVER miss an afternoon nap beside him or on top of him, (the stance is akin to her having conquered some giant in battle). Meanwhile dad sleeps oblivious of a furball parked on his body somewhere. When she is accidentally/deliberately locked up inside a cupboard or cabinet, Elsa parks himself outside that door until we open it and let her out. This is one of the signature ways of finding where either cat is. Litter trails are another story. Elsa is prissy and clean like any cat. Miss Elsa thinks litter is something to express boundless joy in as she rolls and scatters the fresh lot of it ALL over the place – much to the chagrin of my father who has enough reasons to throw us all out. I watch her go nuts, imagine a smile on her face and then clean up. A routine I am used to :)
2 years into mothering these two has taught me tremendous amount of all things mothers do except being a human mother. As some random poster proudly declared, ‘yes… my children have paws’. I am not sure if now, I ever wish to bear my own or procreate or my better half wishes for one of our own. However, I think that these two do a good job of filling that void. I don’t think of them as temporary or as replacements. I don’t think of them as wild or something to pass a few years or attempt a trial. They are my heart, my song, my love, my kids and my endless stories that escape every time someone asks me about them. They are a reason for many things good in my life and their value is at par if not above having human kin. They may not have the ivy league dream, the marriage and the future, but they have their own individual future. I invest in them with as much love and pampering as I would do my own blood and flesh. I love them fiercely and cannot imagine in any realm that I am less than a mother. I hope that their biological momma is smiling and content that I am keeping her lil ones on a pedestal :)
Paws and purrs!