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.