As of this weekend, The Hubs and I went back up to a four-cat household. Yes, we are crazy cat people – we own this moniker with pride. We have not been at four cats since my beloved Oscar passed in October 2017, but the opportunity to take in an adorable nine-week-old kitten arose, and we couldn’t resist. He’s adorable, as a tiny demon equipped with soft kitten fur, tiny samurai swords for claws, and an internal nuclear energy generator must be in order to survive. Scott named him Ferdinand Porsche when he was only three weeks old (all of our cats have car-related names), and that’s when I knew we were keeping him. My one rule was that he had to test negative for feline leukemia and once he passed that hurdle he was in my arms the next night.
Is it a good time to take in a tiny ball of energy that is equivalent to a furry neutron collision? Nope. Would it truly ever be a good time? The answer is also nope. Most of the best things in life come to you when the timing sucks. The Hubs and I will be traveling for almost the entirety of August (at least it feels that way). We are gone for the first four weekends of August, including a week in the middle of the month to fly to Vancouver, Canada. This may be the craziest month of the year for us, so should we adopt a tiny kitten who is currently at war with our other three cats? Probably not. But honestly, fuck the idea of “should.”
Should is what keeps us from following our dreams. Should is the monster that chips away at our mental health and makes us feel guilty for taking some time for self-care. Should is the chainmail we (especially women) wear every day when we don’t sit down and take a break when we get home from our full-time jobs, but instead we make dinner, do laundry, and bathe the kids. How often do we find ourselves with a spare ten minutes, but instead of sitting down and reading a chapter in a book we get up and vacuum the carpet? Should robs us of our joy.
I’m working to burn “should” from my mental dialogue. Instead, I’m trying to ask myself, “What do you want to do? What actually needs to get done and how does that fit in with what you want to do?” If we don’t take time to ask ourselves these questions, we go through life doing what we think we should be doing, rather than following our own path. It’s just like the societal push that everyone in happy, stable marriages should have children (there’s that damn word again…). No. You shouldn’t do anything of the sort. You have to WANT to have children. Otherwise, you’re letting someone else make decisions for you. The next time you hear yourself saying, “Ugh, well I guess I should do that,” stop yourself right there. Should you do it? Or do you WANT to do it? We ultimately only know for sure that we have this one crazy, beautiful, heart-breaking, amazing, life. Why spend it waiting for a time when you don’t have anymore “shoulds” to get through first?
So, SHOULD we take in a kitten right now? Nope. Big ol’ bag of nope. Are we? Absolutely. If I had let should completely rule my life then I would be missing out on the experience of taking care of this amazing little life that brings me equal amounts of joy and exasperation (everything, and I mean everything, is now on the floor and/or under the couch). We all need to take more control over our own lives and focus on the needs and wants, not the shoulds. We’re not always going to win the battle. This mentality is built into us from when we are very young, again, especially for women. The guilt of not doing what we know we “should” do is real and it is very demoralizing. The standards are set up so that we fail because there is simply too much to do to do it all and to do it all well. But if we don’t start focusing on our own needs, when are we going to get to them? I don’t want to be at the end of my life and be pissed that I chose vacuuming over reading a book that changed my life. When vacuuming gets to a need, I’ll handle it, but until then, you’ll find me on the couch reading – probably with a kitten on my lap, playing with my hair and being so damn cute while doing it I’ll forgive him for ripping the corner of the page of the book he’s standing on.