Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 8:01 pm
A lot of things in our lives have been meticulously planned. We like plans. When we make a plan and execute a plan, life feels under control. Other things in our lives have NOT been planned. They’ve been dumped in our laps. And that’s when life feels out of control. We don’t like that feeling.
For years, our younger son has wanted one of our pets to have kittens or puppies.
“Mom, why can’t we have puppies? Dad, can’t we PLEASE have kittens?”
Our response was well-planned and often repeated. “Because our pets have all been fixed. They’ve never had puppies or kittens. They will never have puppies or kittens. Y’see, Honey, our family just doesn’t ‘do’ puppies or kittens. We’re responsible pet owners. We believe in pet family planning.”
“I know. I know. There are too many dogs and cats in the world. Mom, you’ve told me a hundred times.” His face would be down-trodden and sad every time. But he never gave up. His parents, however, felt confident and in control regarding the entire situation. If you’re a parent, let me give you one piece of counsel. Pride comes before a fall. Oh, and be careful of your children’s prayers.
We never asked for Leah. She just arrived at our doorstep. Clearly, she had been dropped. She was bedraggled and hungry and we had mercy on her and brought out the food bowl. A thin, tired-looking, ugly, old, gray and tan cat without a tail had found our family. Lucky us. Clearly, we had won the prize. And as every parent knows, the minute the food bowl comes out, the adoption papers have been signed, sealed and delivered. Delivery was getting ready to take on a whole new meaning.
After a few weeks, we were confident of Leah’s desire to stay with us. We grew to love and care for her. And that’s when we made our plan. Leah would follow our long-standing tradition of a trip to the vet for a little nip and tuck. We had it all under control. But about that time we noticed that our thin, tired-looking, ugly, old, gray and tan cat without a tail had very quickly become a very chubby, tired-looking, ugly, old, gray and tan cat without a tail. My husband said it first, but only in a whisper, “Honey, I think that cat is eating for five.” Like all parents across the world, we decided to keep the information to ourselves. I mean, things could go wrong at any moment. We wouldn’t want to get their hopes up. Finally, it was obvious to everyone. Leah was expecting kittens. We were expecting kittens. The boys were thrilled. Our long-held belief in pet family planning had gone up in smoke.
Today Leah had five lovely little kittens. Right there in the ivy up next to the house. The excitement level at our house was beyond electric. Tonight I’ll have a hard time sleeping. I know not to mess with the beautiful little newborn kittens and that provides still another loss of control. And maybe that’s what I’m supposed to be learning through this whole experience. I can’t control everything. An 11-year-old boy asked his parents for some kittens. They politely told him “no.” He asked God for some kittens and he got a different answer.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 7.1.09