Lauren Wellbank

One mom and her struggle to survive until bedtime


Tag: Cats

Thirty-Five is the New Thirty-Five

On the 19th I will turn 35, making these my last few dying days in my early thirties.  I thought I’d approach this day with sadness at the loss of my blush of youth, regret for the things that I didn’t do with my life (still haven’t written that Great American Novel, have I?), and dread because now I’m staring down the barrel of 40 (40??!?  How did that happen?!).

That didn’t end up being the case.  Instead, I am spending these last few days making demands (after all, 35 is a big birthday and deserves all the fuss that my close friends and family can muster), and enjoying any extra attention that I can get.

Guys, I’m going to be 35 and my life is pretty awesome.  Granted, I’m not running through the house singing while tiny cartoon birds change my toddler’s diaper (good god how I wish), but this life is better than any life I could have imagined in my twenties.

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When you turn 35, you get excited about getting new dish towels as gifts (thanks, mom!)

Plus, at 35 when people ask you what you want for your birthday, you actually get it.  That’s probably because you are no longer asking for things like a trip to Cabo or a new car (not that I ever asked for those things).  My big wish this year was a writing workshop (thanks hubby) and a fancy bottle of salad dressing from a winery in the Finger Lakes that my parents visited last year (thanks parents).  Literally, all of my wildest dreams are coming true.

***Oh, and I keep telling anyone that will listen how awesome an edible arrangement would be.  Seriously people, one with the pineapples cut to look like flowers… maybe some chocolate covered strawberries… I mean, come on, I’m almost 40.***

This is a much different approach than the one I took five years ago.  The Lauren of my 20’s was a completely different beast.  I am a few years older than my husband and on my 30th birthday I declared that I would spend the next few birthdays aging backwards until my husband and I were the same age, and then we could proceed forward together, as equals (because that’s how aging works).  I think I stuck with it for two years.  By then the reality of being in my 30’s had sunk in and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Actually, it was way better than I ever could have imagined.

Gone were many of the insecurities, struggles, and trials of my twenties.  Financially, I was secure.  I had put my time in as a bastion of light in the dark recesses of the mortgage industry.  Most of what had happened in the early 2000’s had started to rebuild and I had found stability in my corner of the market.  And things worked out perfectly for me to be able to leave said mortgage industry and stay home and wipe butts full time.

Gone are the days of wondering how my ass looks in my jeans or what size dress I’m wearing.  My body is what it is.  Sure, I happen to think I look terrific (thanks mainly to awesome genes and a non-sedentary lifestyle).  I am also not far enough removed from my teen years to remember how I felt about my looks back then.  When I look back at old pictures, I realize that I was perfect.  Same goes for every other period of life.  In the moment, there was so much I wished was different, but when I look back I wish that I still looked the way I did then, as opposed to how I look now.  I assume that trend will continue for the rest of my life.  So I’m going to go ahead and embrace how I look now and save myself the regret in five years when I think, “If only I looked as young, well rested, and fit as I did at 35.  Youth is wasted on the young, waaaaah.”

Obviously, I assume that I won’t embrace 40 with the same devil may care attitude that I have for turning 35.

And I love, and am loved, without insecurity.  My husband and I have a solid foundation that I no longer question (except, you know, when we move because that shit is for the birds).  I don’t have to worry if I’ll ever find love, if I’ll die alone, how many cats I can reasonably have before I begin the descent into madness, I know the answers to all of those things now (six, six is the maximum number of cats that I can handle at one time).

And now I’m wondering what the next five years will bring, and what the years beyond will bring.  Will I continue to feel the same way about my life that I do about wine, that it’s better with food it gets better with age?  Will I continue to embrace my flabby backside as much as my crow’s feet?

Who knows?

Who cares?

Another perk of being closer to 40 than to 30, you just don’t give a shit.

So, happy almost birthday to me.  And here’s hoping that I still feel this way in the harsh light of Thursday morning.  When I’m sure to wake up with a few new grays, a cake hangover, and tiny fingers feeling around inside of my ear canal.

35 is the new 35, because screw every other age. 

Adventures in Landlording – The Things We Leave Behind

It’s getting real.  The boxes are getting packed.  There are empty nails sticking out the wall, slightly darker paint showing where picture frames once hung.  The home turning back into what it was when I first walked into it eleven years ago, just a house.

So much has happened in the past eleven years.  I go back and forth between thinking that it all seemed like a lifetime ago, but also, just last week.

This is the place where my husband and I fell in love.  Where we lived together for the first time.  In the living room where he asked me to marry him.  In the kitchen where I came running out to him as he was making dinner with that first positive pregnancy test in my hands.  In our daughter’s room where we brought her after we came home from the hospital (but where we were never able to convince her to sleep).

Where we took pictures every month for a year, documenting all the changes she went through in those first twelve months.

There is a dent in the ceiling from where one of our friends shot a cork upon opening a bottle of champagne after he proposed to his girlfriend.

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Another tradition in our house, cups with slanderous things written about Belsky on them.

Where we began the tradition of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Party that changed and grew from a drunken bacchanalia to a mostly family friendly event.

There is a patch of counter top that mysteriously broke off after a particularly wild party at our house (pre-daughter, natch).

The fire pit that is no longer, that we gathered around in support of one another when a friend suddenly passed away.

Where I brought home cat after cat after cat.

All of these things that made our house our home will cease to exist in a few more weeks.  Of course, when I confided this in my husband he very reassuringly, reasonably, and annoyingly told me that those things don’t just disappear once we do.  They will always have happened here and no matter what we are doing with this house, whether it be continuing to keep it as a rental or returning here at some point.  Nothing changes that.

I must add that my husband is a good man for putting up with me, my flair for the dramatic, and my public outing of his antics at almost every turn.  Also, for agreeing to pack up everything we own to embark on this mini adventure, obviously.

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The wreath I made for our shed door back when we drank that much beer in just one weekend.

Also, I need to remember that all of those things don’t just stay here.  They come with me, with us.  Just like the unreasonable amount of cat paraphernalia, countless comic books, and stuffed animals.  It all comes with us, and it will all come with us wherever we end up after that, and after that, and for the love of god no more after thats.

So yeah, I will take all those memories with us and although they may no longer live within the walls of this house (where hopefully someone new will be making wonderful memories) they will just have to live within us and the stories we will tell our daughter (and hopefully, like five more kids) until she grows bored of them.

Godspeed house, I hope you get to see as many great things happen to our tenants as you saw happen for us.

Also, try not to burn down or have any pipes burst or get termites or anything.  You’re our retirement plan now.

Approximately 21 days left under this roof.

My Last Kitten – The Tale of Mad Eye Moody

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that I used to be the cat whisperer.  I would receive phone calls and messages about cats in trouble often enough that I kind of feel safe in saying that it used to be my thing.  My favorite call ever has to be the one I received from my mother in the summer of 2012.

Let me back up slightly and say that the summer of 2012 had a few things going on.  First and foremost, my grandmother was very ill.  She had been in and out of the hospital all year with various ailments.  After enduring a particularly nasty stomach bug, she was released into my mother’s home and care.  My mother took a leave of absence during the time because she required full time care, a very restrictive diet, and extensive meal planning.

There was a period of time when it didn’t seem like my grandmother would make it (she did).  My brother was also about a month away from his out-of-state wedding.  So, you could say that there was a lot going on.

One night while catching up on the phone with my mother, she informed me that there were kittens in her yard.  Prior to having a child, kittens were my number one weakness.  Now, obviously, it’s sleep or the chance to watch what I want on TV.

Apparently momma cat had set her eyes on the wood shed and decided that this was the place for birthing babies.  I don’t know why she would have picked a property with a very boisterous yellow lab on it.  She must have seen something safe and homey about the wood pile, or else been a huge slacker and waited until she was about to start dropping kittens to find a place to shelter, because that wood pile is where she choose to go.  My mom claims that she saw some kittens frolicking about on the wood pile, but I never saw any such thing.

A few days go by and I get a phone call from my mother on the verge of tears.  She tells me that in the morning she saw the mother cat moving her litter out of the wood shed and into the woods.  My guess was that she finally wised up and moved on to quieter real estate.  After all, she was a single mother with newborns to care for.  So, my mother tells me the mom came back for them one by one that morning and moved them out, but that there was one lone kitten left.  She waited for a bit to be sure that the mother wasn’t coming back before she went out to check on this little ball of fluff.

Once out there, she realized why the mother hadn’t come back.  The kitten was seriously ill.  You could tell just by looking at him that he was in a bad way.  Finally my mother broke down in tears on the phone.  She couldn’t care for this dying kitten on her own, not on top of everything else.

So, I did what any reasonable crazy cat lady would do.  I stopped at the pet store and picked up kitten formula and baby bottles on my way to my mother’s house.2012-06-06_06-32-46_680

The first thing I noticed when I saw this kitten was that he had one eye (we found out later that this wasn’t the case, but that he had such a bad eye infection that it had caused the inner eye lids to swell completely closed).  Secondly, he had an awful upper respiratory tract infection.  Every breath he took was ragged and wet sounding.  The poor thing had snot bubbles coming out his nose.  He was a hot mess.  Naturally, I had to have him.

I already had five other cats at home, so I was familiar with sick kitties and knew the basics.  I was sure my biggest challenge was going to be my husband.  2012-06-25_23-10-51_328How was I going to convince him that this was temporary?  That I was just going to get the kitten well and then find him a home.  Essentially I was just going to be a foster mom, something I had always wanted to do.

Obviously this worked out amazingly since I am not allowed to foster and this kitten became resident cat number six.  That’s right, number six

That was four years ago this summer.  A lot has changed since then.  We are down to three cats.  Yes, the little kitten that could is one of them.  We named him Mad Eye Moody in honor of his original condition.  The name is quite suiting.

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This was late one night after many beers. My husband drew this up and waited for Moody to get into the box on his own.

Moody is so unlike any other cat that I’ve ever met.  Although his eye ultimately healed, there is some lingering damage.  The scar tissue caused part of his eye to fuse shut.  It’s not too bad, but you can tell that the one eye is a little off.

It also weeps, badly.  Sometimes it hardens and looks gross.  Sometimes it doesn’t and he comes up and wipes the goop off on an unsuspecting bystander.  He walks into things often.  He only learned to jump in the past two years or so (which may have been inspired by a certain small child).  Also, he can’t meow.  He either never learned how or thinks it’s beneath him.  Instead he does this thing that is half chirp half yowl.

He has an… aroma… unlike anything I have ever smelled before.

I’ve seen him pull the padding from the carpet up and walk around with it in his mouth like he’s killed a bird.  Paper products are like the finest steak to him.  We had to buy a new bathroom trash can because he would go into it and pull out used tissues and sit there chewing on them and shredding them into a million pieces.  There was dirty tissue confetti all over our bathroom before we wised up and got a new can.  The new one is the kind where you step on it and the lid pops up.

Moody can’t figure out how to jump or meow, but he figured out how to get into that trash can.

There have been a lot of downsides.  He started spraying before we got him fixed and destroyed our one year old carpet.  Then proceeded to destroy our two year old couch.  There are claw marks on everything from him trying to get up to an elevated position without the ability to jump.

But there have also been upsides.   His antics are a constant source of humor.  Once, I was sound asleep in bed when I heard a rustling next to me.  It got louder and louder until finally I got up to check it out.  It was Moody, shoulders deep in a tissue box.  He had gone in, presumably, to eat tissues and had gotten the box stuck on his head.  Like a skunk after that last bit of yogurt in a container.

Although I never wanted to be the lady with six cats (okay, there was a time that I did), I think it all worked out.  Although I think that we would have survived just fine without him, I don’t think that he would have made it without us.

Sometimes that is upside enough.

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