I’ve had a lot to say lately, which is surprising since I haven’t posted here in months.

My mind is so scattered, my temper so high, that I can’t commit to a single essay topic or formulate a long-form cohesive argument. Lately, I’ve found catharsis in shorter, angrier spurts on social media. My partner lovingly pointed out the other day that my internet presence consists entirely of cute photos of our daughter and angsty political rants. He’s not wrong. This is where I am right now.

So that’s what I’m writing about today. About this phase of life and how some days it feels like a shit show. How other days I feel like I won the lottery (not literally, I still have no money).


The dark side feels like this:

I’m an imposter. I suck at my job and I’m not giving enough of my energy to make a real difference. Or, I’m trying too hard and it’s totally fucking useless because it’s an endless uphill battle.

I don’t spend enough time with my kid and I’m an awful mom because I can’t take her to library story time on Wednesday at 11am. She’ll probably grow up to resent me for this.

I’m awkward and unpolished around new people. Or, I’m too obnoxious and forward and people hate that.

I get too political without actually doing enough to affect change.

I’m going through the motions, looking at my phone too much, not enjoying the last beautiful days of the year before it turns too cold.

I’m not spending enough time doing things for myself. Or, I’m too inwardly focused and not present enough for my husband and friends.

Oh yeah, I’m a pretty shitty friend. (And sister and daughter and granddaughter and godmother). I have close friends I haven’t talked to in weeks or months.

I don’t read enough. (Thank you Google for clarifying those literary references I SHOULD get).

I have neither the time nor resources to keep my house the way I’d like. Or, I do and I just don’t use them effectively.


The light side feels like this:

My daughter regularly says, “Mommy, I love you so much,” and my insides swell up with so much joy I literally feel like I could explode.

I can be silly and spontaneous with my kid and it lightens my mood almost immediately.

I’m totally slaying this working mom thing. I’m focused during the day and totally concentrated on my family in the evenings and on weekends.

I’m slowly building my professional network and the collegiality feels damn good.

I’ve managed to slog through a few household projects and this 116 year old pile of bricks ain’t too shabby.

Somehow Scott and I are finding time for ourselves and each other every now and then.

Thank the LORD for Face Time so I can stay in close touch with my newborn niece and my sister.

Trump isn’t actually going to win so I can stop stress eating and worrying about how I’m ever going to find the time to learn French. Or Swedish. Or Japanese.

No one else actually knows what they’re doing either so I’m in good company. Or company, anyway.

I’m not putting this out there because I need a pat on the back or words of encouragement. I have no intention of setting out on some massive self-improvement to-do list that’s going to make it all better. It just feels good to acknowledge all of my fear and anxiety alongside my joy and fulfillment.

Boom. Entry written. Have a good day.





Since Lena began walking, I’ve wanted to write about watching her explore her environment. Over and over, I hesitated because the writing seemed either too bombastic or too precious. But as spring has sprung and we’re basically living outside on the warm  sunny days, it’s constantly on my mind and I finally decided, to hell with it. I need to pull together these bits and pieces.

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last decade thinking about spaces. Public spaces, private spaces, and those in-between. How people create, furnish, and occupy them. This started when I was a graduate student researching and writing about urban spaces and gentrifying neighborhoods. As an archivist, I’m regularly concerned with the widespread issue of too little space and how to get creative with the room we have.

Two years ago we bought a house and I quickly became obsessed with how I wanted my home to feel and how it could best function for our family. This reached a fever pitch last year when I took a part-time job in a lovely mid-century modern consignment shop. I could spend all day fantasizing about outfitting my house with beautiful vintage furnishings and what life among those things would look like.

In an oddly tidy fashion, I’m now back in the world of archives working with collections that focus on architectural and landscape design, so my internal conversation about space continues as I learn about designers, planners, and the process of space making.

But what’s really launched this fascinating theory forward is observing my toddler as she interacts with her environment. She has a compulsion to physically interact with a space, just like any active kid. She observes details like a hole in a tree trunk or the decorative metal element on an old door. When I was a kid, I remember noticing these things, too–how the pine trees behind my neighbors house grew denser the farther we walked; how the light in my room crept in differently depending on the time of day. It’s like every experience stood out as a unique thing, before the synapses connected together to create a familiar script that didn’t require any further exploration. As I’ve grown older I’ve stopped observing things. For instance, I never noticed how kids walking along 34th Street, a place I spend a great deal of time, always hop up on the cobblestone incline between the sidewalk and the bit of grass that rests on slightly higher plane. Someone else pointed it out to me, and now that I know it’s there, I can’t help but smile as I watch them, unable to control the urge to learn how their body feels walking at that angle.

Why does any of this matter? I’m not sure I can articulate it precisely. On one hand it’s a spiritual lesson. I’m learning to slow down, to notice, to appreciate. Lena is teaching me. I still have to fight the urge to say, “No, don’t climb that, you might get hurt.” Instead, I take a small step back, spotting her from a reasonable distance. She’s experimenting and learning to trust her body. I can either get in the way and block that experience or I can allow her the space to try and to grow.

It feels like an artistic endeavor, too. In my 9-5 job I’m learning about the process of designing spaces; at home I’m observing the product of that creative expression. And there’s something very satisfying about allowing those worlds to enrich and inform one another.

I’m sure I’ll have much more to add to these ramblings in the years to come. I have a pretty smart tour guide who also happens to look pretty good in a tutu.




Why I’m with Her

You know the old line about how as you get older and have a family you become more conservative? This is a lie.

When one has been sleep deprived for literally years, one develops a short fuse and a zero tolerance policy for boolsheet. For me, this unfortunate combination results in a raw, ragey feminism that ramps up around 3pm after a day of confronting and managing sexist microaggressions and recedes only when I a) have several drinks b) vent to the husband and friends who reassure me I’m not hysterical or c) I have the opportunity to share my obnoxiously vague and desperate drivel on social media.

It’s your lucky day, folks.

So what is all this rambling and what does it have to do with politics? Well. I spent many months at the end of 2015 #feelingthebern. Yes, income disparity, corporate personhood, and campaign finance are all enormous issues that represent systems which need to be dismantled. And I like Bernie Sanders. He’s consistent and firmly believes what he’s saying. He has my utmost respect.

Media outlets tell me that since I’m a millennial, I’ve moved past the idea that a woman in the White House is a radical notion. That real feminism is voting for the candidate you most admire, not the one whose genitals look like your own. In a perfect world, this last part is true.

And yet. When I really, really asked myself why I was not excited about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I couldn’t exactly say why. Has she said things that I disagree with? Yes. Have her policies always been as far left as I like them? No. But have Bernie’s? Actually, no. I quite disagree with him about trade, gun control, and I am unhappy with his treatment of intersectionality and BLM. So I began a mental exercise where I switched their policies and styles, just to compensate for any inherent, unconscious sexism that may have influenced me. Guess what? At best, it was a wash.

I’m also 32 years old and deeply cynical that the executive branch alone can enact real, radical, lasting change. It came down to one question: Would I rather have a person who knows the game and can play it, is extraordinarily competent and understands the complexities of the issues or a person who is uncompromising in their ideals and believes they can dismantle economic and cultural structures that have taken 400 years to create in just 4, or even 8 years? At the end of the day, I’d rather have the savvy person who knows this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Of course all of these mental gymnastics demonstrate my privilege. I’m a white, middle class, able-bodied, cisgender woman who doesn’t live with the real effects of poverty and racial discrimination every single day. I understand why people are excited about Bernie and why so many need a revolution. I need and want that revolution too, but I don’t think it’s going to be directly led by the Oval Office. I take my right to vote very seriously so I feel charged with the task of voting for the individual who I think will make the greatest impact on the lives of those who need help the most, and of course, my daughter who will likely be on this Earth years after I’ve left it.

So in the face of the deeply ingrained misogyny I see in the media, among other left-leaning friends, and the absolutely infuriating experiences I’ve had myself, I’m honored to have the opportunity to cast my ballot for a competent woman. And I hope that once she’s elected, girls will see her face among the rows and rows of the 44 men who preceded her, and know that a woman is more than capable of leading this country. And just maybe, they will have the tools to call out sexism when they see it.


A letter to my daughter on her second birthday

Dear Lena,

Tomorrow you will turn two years old. It’s more than a little cliché to remark on how quickly the time flies.

But, it does.

I’m not the first mother to gaze into her growing child’s eyes and wonder, “Who is this tiny person and when did she learn to do that?”

But, I do.

Loving you, watching you learn and grow, even helping you through big, tough emotions has brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined. I see you. I really see you, and I am in awe.

When you’re older you won’t remember this time in your life so let me (very inadequately and inarticulately) tell you my impressions of you at almost two years old.


You are empathetic and kind. Often you ask me, softly and inquisitively, “Mommy, can I hold my baby doll? Can I kiss her?” When you hear another child cry at the playground, you look around and then say to me, “He sad and miss his mommy.” Last week when you saw one of the characters on Daniel Tiger was upset you said, “She scared. I scared sometimes, too.”

You are curious. “What is that noise?” What’s her name?” “What is this song?” “What is thaaat?” All day long Daddy and I field your questions as you encounter the world. I love to ask you back, “What do you think about it?” These little conversations are without a doubt, the best part of my day. Laughing with you and hearing about how you see things is beautiful. (Ask me one day about our conversation about vulvas!…)

You have strong opinions. Since day one, you’ve known what you wanted. You cried and wailed as a baby until we learned to tune into what you were saying. As you grow, we communicate more easily and get a glimpse into what you’re thinking and feeling. Sometimes it’s overwhelming for us, as I’m sure it is for you, but it’s also astounding to see just how much you’re observing and processing about your world.

You are joyful. Going for a walk, snuggling with mommy, or finding a new rock regularly elicits the exclamation, “This is ah-mazin’!!” I think you already understand it’s often the small parts of the day that bring the most happiness, something I’m not sure most adults realize. I hope you never, ever lose that spark.

I don’t expect you to understand the way that your parents see you until or unless you have children yourself. I know I didn’t. We love you unconditionally, you know that. But I want to tell you that the most important thing is how you see yourself. And baby girl, you are perfect.

I don’t mean that you do everything perfectly, or that perfection is even desirable or obtainable. What I mean is that you are a whole, complete, stunning, complex person, just as you are.

There is no missing piece out there waiting to fulfill you. You are not the career you choose or the mistakes you make. You are not a partially formed person waiting to grow up to become full. Your life will be shaped by your experiences but you are more than them. You already ARE you and always will be.

Happy, happy birthday, Lena. I can’t wait to start on our next adventure. I know it will be ah-mazin’.






Romance and stuff

The husband and I have been together since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, also known as 2001, and we’re coming up on a dating anniversary at the end of the month. When you’ve been in a long term relationship you think you’ve seen all of each others’ moves. Enter baby, and it’s a whole new ballgame. I’m in a silly, listicle kind of mood tonight so listen up, partners with children. Here are some seriously sexy moves you can employ in your household. You know, to keep the romance alive.

2003 maybe? Babies.
2003 maybe? Babies.
  1. Voluntarily take the toddler with you when you run an errand.
  2. Run out to get ice cream when your partner mentions they’re craving it, even if they haven’t been pregnant in a year and a half (or longer).
  3. Hunt down that giant spider cricket she swears she saw in the baby’s room without making her feel weird for invoking stereotypical gender roles.
  4. Get on the same page when it comes to “date night.” Perhaps a quickie and some conversation as soon as the baby goes to bed followed by binge watching The X-Files on Netflix and consuming junk food you wouldn’t want your daughter to eat. Just a random suggestion.
  5. Tell your partner their post-baby neuroses are “cute” and “entertaining.” Even if you don’t mean it, lying is just as good.
  6. Make up little games with the kid when you’re with them all day and excitedly show your partner when they get home.
  7. Send helpful and/or ridiculous text messages throughout the day. Exhibit A, B, and C.Screenshot_2015-09-23-20-07-34-1IMG_1059Screenshot_2015-09-23-20-04-49-1
  8. Find time to talk about politics, stupid internet memes, and baseball in between stories about your kid and deciding when to get the gutters cleaned. (Not a euphemism).
  9. Keep doing all of these things especially on the really, really shitty days when you only want to walk out the door or hide in your bed for the next year. Remember that you don’t have it all figured out, but so far this ship ain’t sinking, and that’s good enough.



It was the best of times, it was the toddlerest of times

This has been a week, my friends.

It started so well. On Sunday night, Lena surprised us by finally reaching a long overdue milestone—she slept in her own room, in her own bed, alone, all night from 8pm to 7am with NO wake ups. Not one. She’s 17 months old and this is a first. Please, spare me the stories of your kid who has slept through the night since they were 4 months old because SCREW YOU. Just kidding. (But not really).

We figured this was a one time deal so we had low expectations for the following night. Amazingly, the kidlet snoozed from 8:15pm to 5:40am again in her own bed, alone. No wake ups.

Well, last night was a different story.

She fought sleep and finally drifted off at 8:30, only to wake up three hours later, at which time I decided to crawl in bed with her. She wanted to nurse all night, of course. When I wouldn’t let her, she screamed and flailed. When I relented, she dozed but insisted on lying DIRECTLY ON TOP of me and twitching until 6:30 in the morning when she unceremoniously opened her eyes and literally walked out of bed. Thanks, kid.

So after a crap night I had the great idea to wrangle the child, a stroller, and a bag that weighed roughly the same as a small pony, onto the train and into Center City so we could play at the splash pad. There were highs—Lena’s smiling, eager face as she saw the train approach; watching her joyfully collect water in her cup and dump it out. Then there were the lows—the screaming, smacking, and throwing herself on the dirty ground when I attempted to remove her from a dangerous situation; the running off half naked down the Ben Franklin Parkway as I attempted to change her diaper. Oh, and the 15 minutes of crying on the train ride home because she was tired and over it.


My point of telling this boring, tedious story is that joy is often wrapped up in a brown paper bag filled with a steaming pile of dog shit. This dichotomy is not only healthy, but so universal and ordinary, that it’s a wonder why we act so surprised when cruddy things happen alongside wonderful things. Let’s not let the toddlerest of moments ruin our day, our week, our lives.

Cherish the good. Remember that the bad is almost always a phase. And drink copious amounts of coffee and gin.


Shitty writing: a new leaf

I haven’t written here in a while.

I’d like to say I haven’t had the time. Or that I’m so committed to living in the moment that I’ve eschewed any kind of downtime for self-reflection, or, some would argue, inflated self-importance. But that’s not true. I actually have plenty of narcissism to share!

I haven’t written anything in a while because I’m finding it difficult to focus my energy on any one topic when, frankly, I’m angry about so many things. I’m angry about ingrained racism and the inability of white Americans to acknowledge their privilege. I’m angry that seemingly any enraged, unbalanced individual can easily acquire a gun and murder whomever he likes. I’m angry about men (and women) who don’t support a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. I’m angry at a world that doesn’t value children or childhood and refuses to take the necessary steps to protect and gently guide our young people. I’m angry about politicians who find it easier to blame “lazy teachers” than admit that our entire educational system is set up to fail. I’m angry about economic inequality and an ever-increasing financial and cultural gap. I’m angry at close-minded, anti-intellectuals who wrap themselves up in their scripture and shit all over anyone who is different. I’m just so fucking angry.

This broad anger, combined with my eternal fear that I have nothing new to add to these conversations, has left me in a sort of writing paralysis.  Why even waste my already limited free time? Who the hell cares what I have to say when everyone in the world is shouting and so many of those voices are more poignant than my own?

As I sat down to write this whiny post, I decided that I care. Writing, even shitty writing, does my heart and soul good. Even if no one reads it, I know it’s out there.  I’ve organized my thoughts, put words together, narrated my own truth, and that feels damn good.

Sometimes I write things only to read them later and think, “How nauseatingly earnest is this crap?” Because what seems obvious to me now was fresh and new to that earlier version of myself. I’ve only become who I am because I let my mind wander around new ideas. I’m still doing that. I don’t think it’s self-indulgent if we’re working on becoming better people to share with our world.

So, I’m recommitting to putting words on paper. Or screen, or whatever. There will be words, some better than others. Because this life thing is a process and despite all of my cynicism, the universe is still a fascinating and curious place.

More SOON. I promise myself.


My dad

If I had to sum up my relationship with my dad in one story it would be this.

When I was a senior in high school, I made several trips to colleges and universities who were recruiting me to run cross country and track. I went by myself on several of these visits, but for the ones that weren’t far away enough to require an overnight trip, my dad accompanied me.

High school track meet with dad, Cassie, and Aunt Viki. Notice he's wearing a TCU hat already...
High school track meet with dad, Cassie, and Aunt Viki. Notice he’s already wearing a TCU hat..

We probably made 4 or 5 roadtrips, but our visit to Texas A&M stuck with me in particular. We drove down to College Station for the day to watch a home meet and see the campus. Sitting in the bleachers, my dad and I talked about the runners, what kind of school I wanted to go to, and what my goals were for competing at the college level. Running was the source of a number of fights we had that year, but on this day, we chatted easily about some pretty big life decisions I was about to make.

On the way home, I wanted to play some new CD I had bought, and my dad obliged. I’m pretty sure it was some terrible pop-punk album and my dad razzed me about my music preferences and reminded me about “good” music like The Eagles, Heart, and other classic rock bands.

A few weeks later, the scholarship offer from A&M came through and it was much lower (read: insulting) than I had hoped for, especially compared with those from other universities. On top of that, the coach was an ASS to me on the phone. Yes, he was an ass to a shy, 18 year old young high school senior. I was beside myself. I promptly ripped off the A&M bumper sticker on my car, donated my shirt, and never once wore my baseball cap emblazoned with the school logo again. Instead of telling me I was overreacting or hiding in a corner at my rage, my dad listened to me cry, called the coach a wide variety of colorful names (we swear a lot in my family), and told me to forget about it, that something better was on the horizon. Of course he was right.

In the years since, my dad has continued to have my back, blindly at times, and is my go-to person when I need to know what to do next. He not only provides the emotional support I need during the low moments, but he gets shit DONE. The man is in logistics, it’s what he does. He’s also a total softy, don’t let the gruff exterior fool you–he once sent me a “We’re so darn proud of you” email and copied ALL of my friends by accidentally hitting reply all on an email I had recently sent about my address  change. He called me every day the first week I left for college because he missed me even though he didn’t say it outright. We’re pretty different in a lot of ways. And yet, I find myself striking up conversations with strangers in weird places, one thing my dad is known for, and immediately thinking, “Holy crap, I’m my dad.”

Growing up, my dad was goofy and fun and he’s exactly the same as a grandpa, eagerly making faces and pulling up funny videos on his phone in hopes of eliciting a smile from Lena. I love watching them together. Happy Father’s Day Poppy, you sappy cornball, you.



Babcia, Poppy, and Lena

I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and I don’t trust anyone who says they do

Parenthood brings up all kinds of questions and often has you feeling woefully unprepared to deal with situations related to basic human functions like eating, sleeping, and pooping. Parenting a high spirited kid feels like that, all while sitting in a bunker waiting for a bomb to drop.

Simply put, a high spirited kid is MORE. All kids are challenging from time to time, but high needs/high spirited littles are more intense, more alert, more energetic, and more emotional than the average tot. Spiritedness is something parents ascribe to their own children, so the way it looks varies greatly from kid to kid. Since Lena is our first, we just thought that all babies cried incessantly, never slept, and wanted to be held all the time. I mean, she’s a BABY, of course she’s needy. But when she started daycare around 10 weeks old, we observed other kids her age happily sitting in swings and sleeping in their own cribs.

Shortly thereafter I came across Dr. Sears’s The Fussy Baby Book* and for the first time, I thought, YES!!! THIS! This describes my girl. I had been feeling so guilty that we had done something wrong, that those advice-giving old ladies were right–you can in fact spoil a baby by holding them too much and nursing on demand. I read lots and lots of things about sleep and development. Like this, this, and this. We hadn’t done anything to make her the way she was–we had adapted our parenting style to fit our baby’s needs.

I recently realized that over the last 14 months, I’ve developed a sort of informal parenting manifesto that’s guided me towards a happier and more balanced life. I’m about to formalize it, yo.

Don’t read parenting books. Someone is always trying to sell you something, even if it’s not immediately obvious what that is. I’ve found them irrelevant at best and anxiety-inducing at worst. Instead, get to know your kid and trust your instincts. Studies and “experts” be damned.

All kids are different. So are their parents, their families, their cultures, and their communities. Unless you’re harming your child physically, mentally, or emotionally, you’ll find no judgment from me. Do whatcha gotta. (Also, I really don’t have time to care what you’re doing cause I haven’t slept a solid 8 hours in 16 months.)

We don’t know what the fuck we’re doing most of the time. I haven’t the foggiest idea what the next stage looks like and I don’t really care. I’m trying to get through the day here. I’m following my kid’s lead, talking with my husband, and doing what feels right.

Stop it with the labels and the categorizing. Humans have a desire, a need really, to classify the world around us as a way of understanding the mess. I get it. But the world is gray and more gray, not black and white, so cut this shit out. Especially when talking about “types of moms.” These are not real people, they’re caricatures. It’s patronizing, misogynistic, and most importantly, predictable and unfunny. WE’RE OVER IT.

Get outdoors. My kid, and many others I know, are totally likeable creatures outdoors. It’s like a switch gets flipped once their lungs fill with fresh air and they hear birds chirping. If your kid is whiny and losing it, pick ’em up and go outside. Build a yurt and move in until your kid is 18. Everyone will be happier. You can thank me later.

Remember that this too shall pass. Try to find the joy in each phase while remembering that it all ends, even the bad parts. That doesn’t mean you can and should enjoy every minute, but if you keep wishing for the next phase when it gets “easier” you’ll wish away your next 20 years. Right now I’m working part time. I won’t be forever–I’ll have a career again. Right now my kid shits in her diaper–in 1-2 years she’ll be able to better regulate her bodily functions. Life moves forward.

Try to be flexible. Learn to bob and weave, because just as you get comfortable, life will punch you in the fucking ear. I don’t trust you if you say you know what you’re doing. Maybe you know what you’re doing today. If so, kudos. I will raise a glass to your awesomeness. Enjoy it, truly. (I’m secretly hoping your easy baby is a hellacious tween).

Seriously, LOSE THE JUDGEMENT. Yes, this necessitates a second mention. Listen to your friends and family who have kids. Don’t try to fix the situation, they don’t need that. They just need someone who can listen and not be a dick.

Find your tribe. There are people out there who are dealing with similar situations and who can provide gentle advice and support. It doesn’t mean they do everything the exact same way, but they get it and they’re there for you. Maybe they’re online, maybe they’re at the local tot lot. But they ARE there. Keep your eyes open and maybe say hi to that frazzled parent at the grocery store. Tell them they’re doing a good job, and you’ve been there. You were there yesterday and probably will be again tomorrow.

I hope this doesn’t sound sanctimonious. I don’t know what I’m doing beyond this moment and I wouldn’t even pretend to know how to parent your kid. You probably have your own list and probably it looks different from mine. But if having a high spirited kid has taught me anything, it’s that we can’t make assumptions about what others are going through.

Stay strong, friends. And stock up on the coffee.

The most intense always come in the cutest, most unassuming packages.
The most intense always come in the cutest, most unassuming packages.

*I am not particularly a giant fan of Dr. Sears, but in this area, he got it right in my opinion. Delayed vaccine schedule? Not so much…

The Hole in my Heart

Before having kids, I considered my cat to be my baby. I mean, I knew he wasn’t human obviously, but I enjoyed doting on him, taking pictures of him, and buying him new treats and toys. Of course unlike a human baby I could leave Toots for hours by himself and for the most part he was self-sufficient.

One of my biggest pet peeves was parents who insisted that people couldn’t POSSIBLY know real love unless they had a child of their own. I scoffed at this condescension which was usually followed by some story of martyrdom about how much they sacrificed for their little cherubs. I not-so-secretly judged people who rehomed their pets after their “real babies” were born. “Who could give up their pet like that?!” I wondered in disbelief.

I’ve perused parenting forums enough to know this is a major topic of contention. The question of “Do you *really* love your pet like you love your kid?” is floated around all the time. There’s the side that says, “No way. I thought I really loved my pet but then my kid was born. I birthed this baby, it’s a human, and it’s much more responsibility than an animal.” The other side insists they love their furbabies equally, that they are dependent upon them just like their kids and having children hasn’t changed those feelings.

When Lena was born, I’ll be honest, I probably fell more squarely in that first camp. I still loved my cat, but I mean this was my child. And man did he make things more difficult sometimes. He would meow (loudly) as we tried to put her to bed, attempt to eat all the food from her plate and the floor below her high chair, and sometimes at night when he wanted to snuggle, I was just touched out and wanted to be alone. Then Toots got sick. When things went downhill last weekend and we weren’t sure he was going to make it, I did my best to stay at his side, offering my presence when I couldn’t offer anything else. The night before he died, we spent much of the night, just the two of us, cuddled together on the floor. It was the only part of the night he wasn’t crying out and I could have sworn I felt a faint purr. I am SO thankful we had that time together.

The next day we made the decision to put our kitty to sleep. He was suffering and we were in agony watching him. I lost several childhood pets over the years but my parents were always the ones who had to make the grownup decisions and handle the hard parts. This was the first time I had to be the grownup. I wondered how I could watch such a thing happen. Then I imagined the only thing worse than being there would be for him to be alone. So Scott and I held our baby and each other as he went peacefully to sleep in the most dignified way we could offer.  It was literally the last thing I could do for him and although it may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done I would do it again in a heartbeat. He wasn’t alone and we were right by his side, loving him.

Now that I’m dealing with this loss, I’m refining my view on the baby/furbaby debate. No, Toots was not a human baby. I didn’t carry him in my body for 9 months. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising him to go out into the world. When I adopted him, I fully expected that one day he would die and I would have to say goodbye. This is not something we plan on when we have human children. In fact, it’s one of the worst things imaginable. So yes, it’s different. But he was the first thing I got to name, the first life that I had the great task of nurturing and protecting. He was wholly dependent upon me and needed my love and affection in much the same way as Lena. And for that, he will always be my first baby. When he passed, he took a piece of me that I’ll never be able to share with anyone else in the same way.

I am beyond grateful that we had 11 wonderful, loving years together. Toots taught Lena how to say “meow.” (She literally learned the word from hearing him). He came into my life when I felt broken and lonely and remained one of the few constants in my life over the next decade. I carry some guilt that I didn’t spend as much time with him this last year, that I should have been more patient with him. But I’m trying to take the long view–he had a comfortable home and a dedicated kitty mama who did everything she could to provide for him right until the very end. Every fiber of me hopes that he knew how much we loved him, at least in the way cats can know these things.

Losing Toots has left a huge hole in my heart and my daily life. The house feels emptier and I feel sad every time Lena says “meow” or I see his food sitting on top of the refrigerator going uneaten. I’m also a mom who needs to take care of her kid, so I can’t ball up on the couch and cry all day, as much as I might want to. While the sadness is big and real and hard, I’m afraid of it going away, too. Like all of this will start to seem normal and it’s just not normal without him.

Toots, I miss you buddy. This sucks. Thank you for letting me love you and take care of you. While I don’t know what happens to us on the other side of this life, I hope with all of my heart that we’ll find each other again and catch up on our couch snuggling. Until then, we’ll think about you and all the silly, wonderful memories we have.

My boy.