(Note to reader….I wrote this post several days before we euthanized Clea due to her failing kidneys. It seemed more appropriate to post about her death in a timely manner and save this post for a later date, even though it meant the time line would be a bit confusing. It’s just too funny to not share with you.)
Sitting last night on the sofa, tired from a long day, full from a satisfying meal and glad to be home with Tom sharing the end of the day, I heard Jena screaming from her upstairs bedroom, “IT’S SO GROSS, OMG, IT’S SO GROSS.”
To my utter amazement I didn’t budge. I didn’t reflexively run up the stairs to save the day…night. I simply listened. Curious. Had the cat thrown up? Had the cat died? I knew instinctively that Jena was okay because no one who is not okay can annunciate so clearly and repetitively. So very unlike the mother I was in my youth, or even last week, I sat.
Eventually Jena came down the stairs. I think a bit startled that my butt was still on the sofa, my hand still on Tom’s leg. “CLEA HAS A TICK. YOU HAVE TO GET IT OFF HER!!!” (Something you must know before I go any further is that I have been giving Clea subcutaneous IV’s fluids using a needle the size of a fish hook to help her failing kidneys. I tolerated my own skin crawling, nausea, the sound of skin popping as the huge ass needle was stuck into her flesh, almost sticking myself in my shakiness, for my love of Clea and for my love of Jena. Clea is Jena’s cat and the last of the family pets from her childhood. I womanned up and did it.)
But this time, without thought, without several sessions with my therapist to practice boundary setting, I sat there, calmly, with no inner angst of being a bad mom and said, “I’m not doing it, I hate ticks!”
“MOM….YOU HAVE TOO, I HATE TICKS TOO!!!!”
Now I have known Jena longer than anyone. I know her facial expressions, her tonalities, her nuances, her body mechanics. But tonight, with an embedded, engorged tick in the neck of the cat she sleeps with every night, that she was playing with thinking it was a mole on Clea’s neck, whose legs were moving around as it burrowed deeper, Jena made noises and did things with her face that I had never seen before.
As will happen in these crisis moments, I began to laugh. Hard. The more animated Jena’s contortions became the more hysterical I became. The more she pulled her arms up into her oversized sweat shirt to spin her empty sleeves like a talented stripper with pasties, hopped up and down like someone was shooting at her feet, turned her mouth in the most perfect upside down U a mouth can make yelling, “YOU HAVE TOO, IT’S TOO GROSS. MOOOOMMMMMM,” the harder I laughed. I couldn’t stop. Tears rolled down my face.
Those of you that know me, or have been reading this blog for any length of time, know how much I love my kids. Like most moms I would lay my life down for them. But this is where I drew my line. NO TICK REMOVAL. I’m not doing it and she can’t make me.
I loved feeling so clear. I felt absolutely no guilt holding firm to my NO.
Eventually I held Clea while Jena removed the tick…still hopping up and down on one foot then the other, but she did it. I didn’t look. I let myself be a wienie. I think I may do that more often. Bravery is often over rated.
When Jena finished poor Clea ran up the stairs as fast as a dying kitty can. Tom said she paused in the living room, staggering from weakness, then hid behind the couch.
Later that night, Clea and Jena tucked into bed together, Jena worried that the head of the tick was still in Clea’s neck. “Will she be all right Mom?”
“It won’t kill her,” I said flatly as I headed to bed, tired from the drama of the evening.
“Touche.” I heard from the dark of Jena’s room.