“Toes as a kitten.”
It’s a phrase David and I say to each other when we want to bond over our shared cat parenthood and feel the feels.
We say it even though we didn’t know Toes as a kitten. She came to us as a full grown adult cat. But I can picture her in her younger days—tiny white toes on tiny black paws.
She appears to me that way in my dreams sometimes–small and meowing and crawling all over me–a little ball of need. And in these dreams, I feel as close to motherhood as I might ever get.
It happened the other night in what ended up being a nightmare. Toes had been born recently, I was her mother, and she wasn’t gaining weight at the rate she needed to be. I picked her up, and she was too light. Barely responsive.
“You’re a terrible mother,” I thought as I jerked awake.
There are many reasons David and I haven’t pursued human parenthood, but being afraid of how worried I would be as a parent has been a major one for me. I concluded in my early thirties that I was just too anxious for parenthood.
Taking care of Toes has softened me on this stance. Kitten nightmares aside, I’ve enjoyed being there for Toes, and when problems have arisen (like her need for subcutaneous fluids every other day), David and I have been able to address them together pretty well. Plus, my family has been a huge help. (Shout out to my mom and dad who are housing Toes this winter!)
My childbearing decisions these days are less influenced by fear of the anxiety parenthood would cause and more a response to the volume of responsibility parenthood entails. I fear fear less, and I have Toes to thank for that.