Biopsies & Black Cats
If someone had to biopsy your parental journey, what would they see? Imagine they take a small sample, as they would from your breast or your thigh, and they send it off for analysis. Would they come back and tell you that it’s all bad or that it’s all good? As with cells, this parenting journey is complicated and it can be messy and there are good cells and bad cells as there are good moments and bad moments. Not long ago I was ready to sell my kids, today I adore them to bits. If someone had to biopsy my parenting skills they would definitely find some bad stuff in there.
Recently a black cat crossed my path. I’m not superstitious but my grandmother was and some of those cells are probably left in me. I did not see it but Kai did, it ran across the road in front of the car. In hindsight I think It’s name was burnout / exhaustion or perhaps just neglecting yourself. Totally my own fault for not following the advice I always preach. I go to gym only when I really need to read. I drink too much wine. I have extremely strange sleep cycles. I did not see this first black cat, but my kids and dreams did and it tried to warn me.
Then another black cat crossed my path. This one was called biopsy. To be sure. To be safe. I am sure it is nothing. I am almost 100% certain it was just a kid who head butted my boob that caused this, but the radiologist and the specialist wanted to be certain and so..biopsy. For the first time ever I understand what Brene Brown meant when she spoke about being vulnerable while you wait for the Dr. to call. It started out to be a normal work-at-home day and then it quickly escalated to waiting for a sonar, closely watching every expression of the radiologist as she did the sonar (every mom learn this skill while being pregnant), then watching her face through the mammogram and lastly asking: “should I be worried?”. And digesting her honest response: “I don’t know. Let’s wait for the biopsy”. And then me overhearing her tell the receptionist lady that ‘we need to move some patients to fit this patient in tomorrow’. My mind is going places today. Luckily the place that it gets stuck on like a broken record is my beautiful life. The kids have kids over today, as I’m writing this the noise of 5 kids are bouncing off the walls. Normally I would focus on the sensory overload, today I focus on the temporary nature of everything. Perspective is such an easy thing to change. (Today is Wednesday and I will only post this on Fri, this is not https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Little_Lies_(miniseries) after all and no need for you to be part of this waiting game).
Back to the biopsy experience. I went straight from the biopsy to collect kids from school. On the way home B and I had an argument of sorts about the definition of slippers. Friday is slipper day (I hope you all would have contributed to this worthy cause), and the kids are supposed to wear slippers to school. I calmly tried to explain that it is “night shoes”. B said that I don’t know anything and that it is the same as sandals. When we stopped at home she shouted at me at the top of her voice that she is keeping the mothers day card she had been making for me at school and then she spat at me. As I told some friends, I was kind of impressed, it was not a five year old trying to spit at me. This was a soccer player spit that made a high curved arch before a substantial amount of it landed right in front of my feet. She was about a meter away from me. I can sense that you are impressed too dear reader. Just like an indian person on the streets of india or someone on the streets of London (I say this respectfully, as clearly it is an art of sorts, one that I’ve personally never tried to master). She will have no screen time for the rest of the week. But I was so grateful for the normality of it all. Just kids being kids, dogs barking, fish coming up with anxious stares because we probably forgot to feed them. Tom wearing a left shoe and making a pee on the floor. Kai talking non-stop. I just leaned into the love of my friends and husband for the rest of the day and I was grateful for this reminder to slow down.
My point is this, don’t wait for a biopsy or any kind of health scare to make you slow down. Slow down now. Be mindful and be present and lean into it all as you only have one life. You will have embarrassingly bad moments as a parent (remember that mom who blogged about throwing a cake out of the car’s window while driving? I have thrown out balls and all kinds of things for the noise they make. I have shouted at my kids so badly that I was sure my neighbours were on the phone to social services. I often go into fainting goat mode where I pretend the chaos doesn’t exist while they destroy my house like wild animals. When Kev travels they have cereal for every single meal. Great mothering) By the way, I recently realised that not everyone knows about this fascinating phenomenon that is fainting goats. Do yourself a favour and have a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI4hzzepEcI In fact, go call your kids to watch with you as it will give them a belly laugh. I showed mine and we all did impressions of goats fainting for about 15 minutes. Even Tom, who had no idea what he was doing. One of my best memories of all time is Bailey shouting at Siri “WHERE CAN I BUY A FAINTING GOAT??!!!” (in Nelspruit apparently, at R2000 a kid).
Let me end with the black cat that crossed the road…In early Egyptian times, dating back as far as 3000 BC, cats (including black ones) were held in high esteem; to kill one was considered a capital crime. It wasn’t until the middle-ages in Europe that the black cat’s status changed when they were associated with so-called witches. The hysteria of witches practicing black magic had just hit Europe and alley cats were often cared for and fed by the poor lonely old ladies later accused of witchery.
This belief was taken up a notch when a folklore involving a father and son in Lincolnshire in the 1560’s started making the rounds. The pair were said to have been traveling one night when a black cat crossed their path and dove into a crawl space. The pair threw rocks at the furry feline until the helpless injured creature scurried out into a woman’s house, who at the time was suspected of being a witch. The next day, the father and son came across the same woman and noticed she was limping and bruised and believed that to be more than just a coincidence. From that day on, it was thought that witches could turn into black cats at night.
But in some cultures, the black cat is a symbol of good luck. The Scottish believe that a strange black cat’s arrival to the home signifies prosperity, while Pirates of the 19th century believed if a black cat walks towards you, it’s a sign of bad luck, but it’s good luck if it walks away from you. In the English Midlands, a black cat as a wedding present is thought to bring good luck to the bride.
Regardless of the outcome I will get later today, this black cat brought me a lesson as it served as a reminder. A kind and perhaps not so gentle nudge to wake up and be present.
Ps. So I did not post this on Fri, I used the weekend to digest the unexpected news and bask in the love of friends close and far. I’m calling it George and operation fuck you George is already in full swing. Not to be dramatic, but like the amazing SuperSal I will also sit on my couch one day and help someone else through this journey.