OPINION: All Alone in the Moonlight

I’m reading a book. Except I’m not. Except I’ve literally been interrupted so many times in the last 18 minutes that I’m pretty sure I just keep rereading the same paragraph over and over again, expecting a different result … like my children to be sleeping or my husband not to be sleeping, even though he very much assures me he’s just resting his eyes.

I can’t find my flashlight but the moon is bright and I want to read this book. I need to read this book and not because I’m in a book club — because, truly, done that, listened to the Audible (shameless, I know) and spent a lot of time eating mini quiche, nodding like I knew what everyone was talking about.

This one’s another literary delight. (I’m 60 pages in and there’s essentially no plot, no hook and unless someone dies soon, I’m pretty sure hubby will be in good company with that whole eye resting regalia).

I’m proving a point and I have to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what that point is but I know I have one and I know it’s good so when my younger daughter comes in for the 18th time during the duration of those 18 minutes, I’m already armed with that snooze of a suspense sequel, looking busy and mildly ridiculous in a pair of blue light glasses.

“She won’t sleep,” she cries. “She literally hasn’t slept in hours … hours, and she just wants me to hold her like all the time and if I don’t hold her, she looks at me with these big eyes, these big, sad eyes.”

She leans in so I can fully witness her impression of “a Keane painting meets no matter how many times I’ve watched Titanic.”

We got a kitten. You heard that story. Sorry. We got another kitten and she’s furry and adorable and so very nocturnal, it’s like having a newborn in the house all over again, except this time I’m the tired grandmother, trying to console my oh-so-very overtired daughter who’s whining that said kitten (the one she begged and cajoled for and God, she should really find a way to get paid for her master manipulation skills) will never sleep, never and (just in case you needed to be bashed over the head, maybe with a good snooze of a suspense sequel), appeared as hopeless as waking my husband from his comatose state.

Not that I could blame him, not that I didn’t think he deserved that very long blink more than anyone after driving us to a remote location where (for a hot minute), I was beyond convinced we’d fall victim to our own suspense novel: The Case of the Killer Kitten. By day: she’s cute, cuddly, your heart will go on and on, Celine. By night: try not to rest your eyes too long or leave your feet uncovered or the brainchild of something toe eating and straight out of a Stephen King novel meets the feline version of Baby Alive will make you rue the day you didn’t heed your mama’s advice cause those boots were made for sleeping as much as they were walking.

Sorry. Let me back up a chapter. The catalyst for all this? (I know. The suspense is killing you).

Fiona is still feral. I guess a feral cat never really turns un-feral, not completely, but in this case, The Case of Feral Fiona, who (unfortunately) assumed the identity of a squirrel or racoon or some animal that hides all the time, hissing whenever we walk by her, demanding to be fed (always in large quantities). So kinda like having a teenager (with hairballs — she’s a nervous licker) and I guess I thought maybe, rather than hiding from the world and eating her own fur, she’d like to have a cat pal. You know, somebody to swap mouse tails with, someone catty but not too catty, who knows how to hold a canary in her mouth when you accidentally let the (you know what I’m saying) out of the bag and cough it up that, guilty as charged … sometimes you really do just sit catatonic by the window, listening to Celine Dion and hiding from the kids and yes, I’m still talking about the cat.

I close the book, tossing it where my nightstand would be if I had a normal bed like a normal person and not a mattress on the floor that I bedshare with my almost-two-year-old because the crib apparently is some sort of baby cage? I’m starting to feel as adept at raising kids as I am at raising cats. I can’t get any of them to sleep, stop wandering in while I’m using the bathroom or leave my cell phone charger alone. What is it with kittens and wires?

One day I’ll get this whole parenting/kittening gig down. The kids might have kids of their own by then and our house might turn into an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, complete with whiskers and whimsy and memories and you jump, I jump, Jack … it puts me in a deeper state of depression than watching Kate and Leo look down into that water.

I try to feign empathy because she’s so “tiny and sweet.” My younger daughter continues with her tangent, but “it’s like I never can leave her. I just feel so exhausted and it’s so much work when you have this little tiny, tiny creature who totally depends on you for everything … like food and water and the poop. I even have to clean up her poop and I don’t feel like I can do anything just for me anymore” — this after only two days of having the cat — “I can’t even like, take a shower or think. I can’t even think without her meowing or anything without her crying for me and do you have any idea at all what that feels like, Mom? Huh? Do you … do you?”

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.