On Parenting…or not, as the case may be

Ok, well, a lot of things in Ghana have told me I’m not (do you hear that Ghanaian men? I’m NOT) ready to have children. This country is one of the most fertile I’ve ever seen. There are baby everythings everywhere – children, goats, puppies, guinea fowl chicks (not cute), piglets, calves, dinosaurs, sheep, donkeys….. everything.  Ugh FINE, dinosaurs don’t exist anymore, but chickens are SO MUCH funnier when you think of them as mini Velociraptors so that’s what we’re going to do.
This country is in a constant state of renewal and rebirth. It is a shining beacon of the natural cycle of life, which, unfortuantely, also involves death.
As all of you know, my cat had six kittens. As some of you know, the kittens are now five. As is common with large litters, one of the kittens succombed to the cycle of life a little early. Now, this was extremely difficult for me.  As a general rule, tiny things should not die. Especially not if they’re tiny AND fluffy. An animal’s death is significantly more tragic if that animal was tiny and fluffy. You might try to disagree with me, but I don’t make the rules, so don’t bother.

Exhibit A: Tiny and FluffyExhibit A: Tiny and Fluffy. Don’t worry, this is not the deceased, just a semi-scientific size reference for you

Anyway, as I said, i struggled a lot during the hours and hours of sickness my kitten endured, and it got me thinking about how impossibly hard it must be to have a young child who is sick. How mothers and fathers must ache for their children. I mean, I knew this cat for about 2 weeks. It couldn’t talk. It didn’t love me back. It wasn’t part of me or the life I’d planned for myself. It was just fluffy and tiny. He looked up at me with pleading eyes, he mewed these pitiful, weak mews, and I was completely devastated and completely useless (don’t worry, I’m over it now, although you can still send me condolance chocolate in the mail).
In a small way (I don’t mean to say my experience was anything like a parent watching his/her child become ill), it showed me it’s almost harder to be the one watching the sick than to be the sick themselves. Espcially in the case of parents. Especially in the case of my parents, who had to endure my moaning and groaning assertions and this time the sickness WAS actually fatal and I was going to verbalize my suffering until the very end. No, it wasn’t just a sore throat, it was a flesh-eating bacteria that was making its way to my heart. You might think that’s just a headache, but I know for a fact that it’s a tumor, I read it on WebMD. No, Mom, I don’t think you’ll truly understand how painful my earache is unless I tell you about it at five minute intervals for the next two days. Please sit with me again as I watch “Dunstin Check’s In” for the third time today, I need someone to hear me complain.
Every time I got sick (with a fatal illness, inevitably) I would melt into a feverish pile of self-pity, completely unaware that it SUCKED for my parents to watch me sick. Not just because i was unbearably obnoxious (still am), but because it’s insanely difficult to watch someone (or something) you love (that is tiny and fluffy) in pain. Maybe they needed someone rubbing their backs, too.
Yes, yes yes, i know, that’s pretty obvious. It’s something I’ve been aware of my entire life, but hadn’t been fully conscious of until now. Kind of like when I realized that the fact that my parents were 30 when they had me meant they ACTUALLY had 30 years of real, living and breathing life before I was born (it’s true, ask them). Peace corps is good for realizations like that. Something about the long hours sitting and waiting for various distings leads to strange meditations. And something about blogging makes you think random thoughts are supposed to be public.  So, in summary:

  • Thanks, Mom and Dad. I have yet another newfound appreciation for you and the strength it takes to be a good parent.
  • Based on my reaction to a sick kitten, I am even more convinced, despite the compelling arguments of Ghanaian men, that I am NOT ready for children.
  • Fluffy, tiny things should live forever, or at least until they are no longer fluffy and tiny.
  • Chickens are dinosaurs.

Note: between the time of me writing this and posting it, I learned that my dear 15 year-old Abby cat had to be put to sleep. There seems to be a theme in my life right now….anyway I hope she is eating mice to her fat little heart’s content up in kitty heaven. It was almost as if life sent me the kitten as a test-run for Abby, and I dare say I’m handling it pretty well, given the fact that I’m me. I’m just happy to know she left this world peacefully, sprawled out on a sheep’s skin with two people petting her, instead of the way this kitten did.  And I swear my next post will be about Ghana and not cats……i swear……


6 responses to “On Parenting…or not, as the case may be

  1. Oh Lauren, how very sweet for you to finally gain some perspective about parenting, suffering, and death (not necessarily in that order!). I do need to remind you, however, that although you were at one time tiny, you were never fluffy. So that part is different.

    You are correct – I had to endure your thoughts and fears that you had cancer or something major many times. But it wasn’t only me or the family! Our insurance company also had to put up with you – all those tests, the specialists, the ultrasounds, the upper GI, the sleep study … all paid for because no one knew any better (except maybe me). The results always came back negative. Now you are in Ghana and all those phantom pains of yours have disappeared. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes the Peace Corps and magical Ghana to cure Lauren.

  2. What a wonderful post Shlauren! You are so sweet and wise! It pained me to hear that Abby has left us for clouds made of cheese and heavy cream but I will always remember her as the cutest, fluffiest cat I have ever known. She was, in fact, the only cat that I would pet despite my horrific allergy to all things feline. Keep writing poopsy, love you!

  3. Goodness, Lauren. You are maturing so fast. Pets, fortunately, are not children. But, they do a pretty good job of eliciting the same kinds of emotions. Treasure what you have as long as you can.

    Uncle Scott

  4. Lauren – fun to read about your adventures (kind of) in Ghana. You paint an interesting picture of things living, and dead in Ghana but the one thing I will take from this blog is that the men in Ghana have somehow convinced you that they are ready to have children – with you? Or is it any female? Not to lessen their desire for you.

    • Any female really, although extra points if she’s white. and I, of course, am the whitest of white. Fathering children is a traditional sign of manliness and wealth here (hence why some chiefs have upwards of 300 spawn)….

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