I’ve always thought the label “pet parent” was twee (more like obnoxious). I considered myself a semi-reluctant cat owner, taking in a foster tuxedo cat named Harrison. I’m usually more of a servant/masseuse/nanny, but still, an owner on a good day. When my apartment building was sold from under me, forcing me to move under a tight deadline, I brought my things–including Harry–to my mom’s temporarily.
I worried that my mom, heavily leaning toward the dog end of the pet spectrum, would hate Harry, pick on his every move and issue a quick, awful ultimatum. To my delighted relief, she took to him almost instantly, cooing and coaxing him into her space all the time, and giving me evening reports like an aide at daycare: “He cried after you left today, but only a bit, he loved the new wet food, and he napped really well!” My mother–whom I’ve always called Mommy–has called me this cat’s mama enough, e.g., “Mama, stop talking to your son like that!” that I recently found myself dramatically singing how much Mama loves him, and Look at how handsome Harry is! in a tone reserved for nom-nom-cheeked newborns and dachshunds.
In a moment confirming that I have surrendered to cat ownership (and that we may be entering the End of Days), we–the two humans–just had an earnest discussion about what *she* should be called now. By Harry. By the cat, who can’t speak. Grandma (my family’s usual preference) was shrugged off. Boring, I suppose. I went exotic with Meemaw, and was shot down outright. Big Mama brought only a weary sigh that suggested I never mention it again. Perhaps she’d prefer an auntie title: “Titi Alice”? She sucked her teeth. “That doesn’t work, we’re not sisters!” I was told matter of factly. Oh, right, I…forgot?
Mama Alice was received lukewarmly, but after a brief but passionate debate, we settled on Nana. Then we returned to our respective rooms and lapsed into comfortable weeknight silence. Harry, his butt parked firmly on both my feet–his usual spot when we watch TV–was oblivious to this critical familial discussion. I’d wrap this up with something clever, but Christmas is next week, and I’ve gotta work fast to make sure my kid’s got something under the tree. As any good mom would. #WhatIsThisLife #AndHeShallInheritAllMyRiches