Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catman and New Motherhood

On Sunday in the afternoon, Sgt. Viola Catman gave birth to five kittens, one unfortunately was dead at birth, but the others have survived. This is Catman who came to this home as a male, did a quick sex shift, and before reaching the age of one year ( she is only eight months as I write this) has become a mother. I shake my head in shame. It's my fault, of course. She was scheduled for sterilisation but I postponed the appointment because of lack of money and thinking she was too young to get pregnant anyway. She wasn't.

I watch her today, her first full day as a mother, and I can't help but empathise. Like me, Catman became a mother much to her surprise. I was not a girl who dreamed of babies in my arms. Even once married, neither my husband nor I spoke about children and yet suddenly there they were. Parenthood seems so important and so easily buggered, they should make the entry requirements a bit stricter. You should have to do all sorts of complicated things that go on for months with even the slightest deviation resulting in failure. Some of us just shouldn't be allowed-in that group should likely have been both Catman and me.

I've moved the kittens to a cubbyhole in the computer stand so that I can keep an eye on things. Catman forgets and gets up and walks away with kittens still on board and she drops them- one by one- as she makes her way out the door leading to freedom. I collect the screaming blind worms and put them back in their cubbyhole. We're like a kitten tag team.

When Catman comes back she doesn't rush to her kittens, instead she sits outside the cubbyhole and watches them. They cry for her and she watches; sometimes through thin mean-guy eyes, sometimes through wide surprised ones. She's not ready to be bullied by these less than day old cats. Where did they even come from? Who do they think they are? She will go to them when she pleases and leave when she likes.

That is something about motherhood that gave me a terrible fright too- the servitude. I didn't cope well with it either so I don't judge Catman. I did the mother thing. My kids have grown- still alive and in one piece- well, two pieces actually. I hope my ineptitude has not harmed them too much. I just couldn't be one of those women who gave herself to her children completely, lost in the definition of motherhood. I loved them, but I had to love them my way, not the prescribed, textbook motherhood way. I know I made the right decision because if I had taken the prescribed way I know sanity was not going to tag along with me.

Motherhood is coming hard to Catman, but it has brought us closer together. I feel we share something across species lines. They try to convince us humans that motherhood is instinctive too. It's a lie for humans and, I see now, a lie for cats too. Catman and I know.


Sue Guiney said...

Facinating, and funny. I've always thought that the real test of whether feminism has prevailed is when women feel it's absolutely fine NOT to have kids. Motherhood isn't for everyone, that's for sure. But now that those kittens are there, without an instinctive mothering cat, i do fear for them...

Lauri said...

Sue between Catman and I we are doing our best for those kittens.
I agree not everyone should have children. Choice, it's all about choice.

Unknown said...

The Catman saga! Lauri, you should think of serialising this... It's much too interesting.

Loved how you have tied the complicated issue of humans and motherhood to Catman's plight at having kittens. Makes me think!

On the other hand, I have had a female rottweiler for about 5 years now. She only had pups once (all died except one, which was then stolen by my thieving dog handler... another story, that one). Now Phoenix, my dog (or should I say bitch) has simply refused to get pregnant again. She goes on heat and all, however, she manages to 'stretch' out any sign of pregnancy before it reaches full term. So determined is she not to be a mother that I really wonder about this thing called motherhood... something also tells me that she is aware that I intend to make loads of money out of her pups that she has refused to humour me... oh well...

Lauri said...

Ha! Jude! Don't let Catman hear that it will go directly to her head!

Sorry about your dog. (somehow I can't get myself to call a femal dog a bitch- it sounds so nasty). Maybe she just hasn't met the right man yet.

Elspeth Futcher said...

I love the name of your cat; it sounds like a superhero's moniker. I have every confidence that those tiny kittens will be fine. I'd happily take them all if I lived closer!


Anonymous said...

Well, Catman has certainly been busy. I'd love to see a shot of the bubbies.

I like how you empathise with her re. motherhood. No matter what species we are from, motherhood is a universal experience.

Told with your usual warmth and humour!

Lauri said...

Elspeth- I'm finding I'm already too attached to these kittens and I haven't even looked them in the eyes. I don't know how I'll give them away but I can't keep five cats- that's just crazy. I already have two dogs.

Selma- this motherhood gig is a difficult one that's for sure. Even today - five days after the kittens' birth Catman is still very reluctant to take on the job full time.

Monday I'm putitng up photos of the four kitties. Not sure what Catman thinks about her offspring sharing her spotlight. We should keep it on the 'down- low".:)