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The cat on the table and the child in my head

I’m chopping vegetables when she starts crying, a plaintive meowing. She paces across the kitchen table, coat gleaming, belly hanging, begging for my attention. “I’m sorry, Cat. I’m fixing dinner. I’ve got nothing for you.”

In my head she’s a little girl. Three or four. Her eyes wide and pleading, “Mama, play with me!”

“I’m sorry, Baby. I’m fixing dinner. Papa will be home soon and I’m hungry! Would you like to help?”

She peels the garlic and breaks heads off brocoli stalks. “They look like tiny trees!” She is gleeful. I’m in awe of her strong little hands and the pleasure she takes in such simple tasks.

And then I chide myself for being so stupid. Getting lost in childish imaginings. Children are not in the picture. Not now, not for years, maybe never. Maybe because you never know and maybe because it just seems impossible. The other day I asked Michael, “How will we know?”

“When I have a job and we have health care and we’re ready to buy a house and we’re not worried about paying bills every month. Maybe then.”

Maybe we’ll wait until we’re in our forties and adopt. I can see myself, like all those women I watched in Manhattan with long silver hair and ethnic children. I could love any child I held in my arms, I know that.

By now I’ve peeled and chopped a whole garlic bulb, but I don’t care. I sprinkle it over the vegetables, slide it into the oven, set the timer. I over-season everything. Fresh cracked pepper makes raw chicken black. Kosher salt, onion flakes, garlic powder, oregano, basil, sage smells like pee but I sprinkle on three-times the amount you would anyway. The chicken will come out of the oven crunchy for spices but I don’t care. I like it that way. Just like I like my food burned crisp. Everything tasting like it came out of a campfire. Smoky.

I reach for another beer. Dinner is in the oven but Mike won’t be home for three hours at least. I’ll eat alone while I balance the budget. Wait up for him. Reheat a plate for him. Press my face into his neck while he eats. Breathe. So glad he’s home.

This is my second installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments, begun by Heather of the EO. You should totally join in.

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  • I love your writing… 

    I’m sure you’ve been told many a time that “there’s no perfect time to have a kid,” but I’m just throwing that reminder out there. 🙂 Heck, here I sit, maybe a month from meeting our first child, and we’re petrified that we can’t afford this, job situations aren’t going to work out, how in the hell are we going to swing daycare costs, were we really ready to cut back on going out with friends and traveling, etc.etc.etc… but we’ll make it, just like everyone before us. I hope. 🙂

    • But how did you make the jump? Like, that’s the part that scares me the most. That we’ll never get up the courage to make the jump, just go for it, have faith that we’ll figure it out when we get there. What if we wait so long that our whole life passes by? 

      I know I shouldn’t spend my time worrying about all the “what ifs”. I also know the biggest hurdle for us is health care. No way we’ll make the jump without insurance. And I am kind of in love with the idea of adopting later in life. I’ll be calmer then. More self-assured. Grounded. Right? Gosh I hope so.

      PS. I am so excited to meet Rock Star! Not that I’m eager for the kid to come out of the oven early, that is not what I mean. Kid can cook as long as s/he wants to, for sure. But I’m so happy for you and I know you guys will make it. You’ll fly on the wings of love together, just like always.

    • Anonymous

      I love what Josey said…for us the jump came when we took a trip we’d always wanted, and had dreamed about for years, and then after we got home we said, “why not?” It was like we realized that we were okay and the only thing stopping us was fear. I wasn’t a the point in my life I imagined being when I would have a kid and I was terrified my whole pregnancy that we wouldn’t be ready and in a lot of ways we aren’t, but she hasn’t noticed and doesn’t seem to care that a lot of her stuff is hand-me down or that sometimes we fight in front of her. But I think the “jump” is different for everyone. And I’m so glad I did.

  • I can totally relate to this – I struggle all the time with “when will we” or “Will we at all” when it comes to having kids.  I’m turning 30 next week so these thoughts are on overdrive too, but I try to just take it one day at a time.  Sometimes that is all you can do!

  • My parents want grandchildren so badly. I’m not sure if/when it will happen, but I haven’t completely ruled it out, but one step at a time. It was a major leap for us to even adopt Sasha. One step at a time. I don’t think I’ll ever KNOW that I’m ready, but I will take all the steps along the way to prepare myself just in case.

    PS -love your writing.

    • I haven’t congratulated you on Sasha yet! She’s a beautiful dog. My parents have three grandchildren, so they’re in no hurry for me to have any. I guess I’m lucky in that way? Anyway, thanks for reading. It means a lot to me.


  • Kristi

    Such a beautiful post.  Heartbreakingly authentic…but love how you can also look into the future and see other roads you could take.
    Glad I stopped by from Just Write

    • I’m glad you did too! Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Um this is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read. I love it and I love you.

  • ‘Cita

    So lovely.

  • I feel like I’m right there with you, in your kitchen.

    For the record, I’m sure that your blackened chicken is delicious. 

    Your writing is divine,

  • Heatheroftheeo

    This was such a lovely piece. Thank you. Actually, lovely isn’t a strong enough word.

    • Thank you for reading! And for your kind words. 🙂 Hugs!

  • What a beautiful piece. Seriously, you are a terrific writer.