Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Motherhood: The Tough Job
When it comes to celebrating mothers, the standards are in place: breakfast in bed, cards telling them how wonderful they are, maybe some flowers and chocolate. And motherhood really is awesome, of course, and certainly to be celebrated. The days that each of our kids were born were two of the best days of my life. I can remember the excitement with which I greeted them, getting to meet them for the first time. Heck, I remember Wayne and I crying together over the little blue line on the pregnancy test stick.
As it turned out, Mother's Day Weekend this year was both a wonderful celebration, and a testament to how hard the job of mothering can be. My mom arrived on Friday to celebrate the weekend with us, and as we were all sitting around after dinner on Friday evening, Asa's cat Bandit came wailing up the stairs dragging his hind legs behind him in a crippled fashion. We had no idea what had happened - hit by a car? Fell out of a tree? (he's a notorious climber). We were off to the Emergency Vet, where about half of the city's population of pets also seemed to be having similar crises. After several hours there and X-rays and blood tests, we were no closer to an answer to what had happened to our kitty - no broken bones, possibly snapped tendons, possibly a blood clot, possible a spinal cord injury. The best the vet could give us was a bill for $500 and an appointment with a specialist, and some dire predictions.
I spent Friday night completely sleepless with worry. We wouldn't be able to see the specialist until Monday morning, and I had the sinking feeling that what we would be told was something along the lines of "We can do an MRI (closest feline MRI machine is 100 miles away) and this $10,000 surgery, or we can put your cat to sleep." How could we possibly make that decision? In the good old days (or bad old days if you prefer) there would simply not be this option. A cat with no working back legs would make a trip behind the woodshed with the father of the family and his trusty shotgun. Tears would be dried and that would be that. Sometimes the miracles of modern medicine come with the price of very hard decisions.
Fortunately for all of us, the little patient was on the mend and by the specialist's appointment on Monday he had regained quite a bit of strength and mobility in his hindquarters. The veterinary specialist was a wonderful guy who spent a long time going over possibilities with us. Near as we can tell, Bandit jumped out of one of his high trees and probably did some shock to his spinal cord, causing his back legs not to work. As it is healing, he's regaining his ability to stand and walk. With any luck, a few weeks of rest and he will be back to normal (and unfortunately probably back to climbing trees that he can't get out of).
Completing the Mother's Day weekend picture was a sick chicken who just kept on getting worse over the weekend. By Monday, her fate was not nearly so happy, and Wayne thankfully spared me the job of dispatching her as we were definitely NOT taking a $500 trip to the vet for the chicken, sad as that reality might be. Still, Foghorn was one of our sweeties, and the chicken who recently graced our photos in People magazine. Perhaps one of the most viewed chickens in the country, a poster-chicken for backyard poultry everywhere, she will be missed.
So it was with relief that the rest of the weekend was more along the lines of the Hallmark Holiday Mother's Day. On Saturday night, we got to go watch Asa in A Taste of Broadway, a review of different musical and dance numbers from Broadway musicals, put on by Upstart Crow, the theatre company that she has been acting with for many years now.
On Sunday, we took Mackenzie's kayak up to the lake for its first launching. My mom brought her kayak and the two of them had a grand time exploring the lake together. Although I forgot my wetsuit, I still went for a swim even though it was really a bit cold to stay in for too long. When we got back, Wayne had barbequed up a giant salmon, and my mom had brought a delicious pecan pie that she bought in an auction. All in all, a great Mother's Day, with a reminder thrown in of why we should all value our own mothers. Sometimes, unbeknownst even to the rest of the family, they take on the pain and the worrying and the hard job of holding it all together (even on no sleep.)