Just Write: Little Earthquakes

September 11, 2012

Sometimes it’s not pretty, or particularly elegant, but you have to Just Write.

Our new cat, Aria, is having a hard time adjusting to our noisy family. Under our roof, we have two dudes over 6’2, with heavy bones that clonk down stairs and through doorways. We have Minx 1, who twirls in the morning, and Minx 2, who spies her sister twirling and then starts galloping over our hardwood floors. And then there’s me, toasting waffles and cleaning up spills and organizing lunches for the day. In short: it’s chaos.

Aria doesn’t like chaos. I think her former owner was a little old lady who moved with accuracy and deliberation. Aria hears a sudden noise and flees, tail tucked, down to the safety of the basement.

Miss M. is heartsick. “I don’t think Aria likes me,” she says, watching the tail whisk its way down basement steps.

“She likes you, baby,” I say. “She does. She’s just adjusting to us, and the way we clash around. We’re a big family, and we take some getting used to.”

Miss M. is now on a campaign to make Aria feel more welcome. She’s learned to sit (rather) quietly when Aria comes up in the morning, waiting for her to rub her fuzzy flank against waiting arms. She’s declared herself the “official” cat brusher, even though she has an uneven hand. Watching my daughter sit, criss-cross applesauce, before I’ve even had time to make coffee, desperate for the affection of a creature who is skittish and unpredictable…God, it breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because how often do we love someone or something and are left, standing in the dust, heart in our hands?

It takes courage, this human being thing. And animal thing. But I watch my daughter, and she gets it. She sits down in quiet corners, waiting. She waits and takes deep breaths, which is a reminder that I need to do more of the same. The focus she puts forth at being still, just sitting there and waiting for things to happen–how is she so much wiser than I am already?

She plants herself patiently every morning in corners. I pack lunches that are less nutritious than I’d like but guaranteed to be consumed and hope that her heart doesn’t break before 8 am.

That’s what mothering is. Riding out the little tremors–dozens and dozens of potential earthquakes in a day. Together.

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