It’s been a bit stressful at our house in recent days. Our daughter just turned nine, officially making her a pre-teen and bringing with it all of the emotional fluctuations one would expect. There’s been a lot of drama and stomping off to slam a door or a dresser drawer. I had to have a really long talk with her today about her strange tendency to ignore us when we talk to her and then when we finally get angry about it, she flounces away in hostility. Not cool. Neither is her tendency to ask for a particular kind of food and then reject it when we bring it home from the store. Or have us make food for her lunch and then *buy* her lunch from the cafeteria. Very not cool. I have a low tolerance for having my time or my money wasted. I can’t count the number of different foods that have had to be thrown away because she would never eat whatever it was that she requested.

I’m familiar with this pattern by now, and I know that a) it will end and b) when it does end, she’ll be smarter and nicer than she was before her brain decided it needed to rewire its pathways. Again. She’s a total pill about twice a year. Once around her birthday, and then again in the fall. Which jibes with something I read in one of the myriad parenting books I’ve read over the last nine years, which is that children go through six month cycles of equilibrium and disequilibrium. When they’re balanced, they’re generally happy and easy to get along with. When they’re unbalanced, they’re discombobulated and understandably cranky, if not outright defiant. I try to remember this whenever it’s apparent that she’s going through another mental and physical growth spurt. I suppose this is all good practice for when she’s going through puberty, the mother of all growth spurts. I can’t lie and say I’m looking forward to that. We’re both really stubborn, and our relationship is the sort that will either bond like cement, or explode like a bomb. I’m pretty sure we’ll get the former, though.

My other stressor this week is my cat, Babalon, aka MamaCat. She is at least sixteen years old and is in kidney failure, the severity of which ranges from mild to worrying. Right now, we’re worrying about her. Which is a bummer since she was doing really well for a couple of weeks. We went through six weeks of antibiotics to treat a chronic UTI, which was difficult since Mama’s not the sort of cat who tolerates being messed with very much. She gets angry when she merely has to be restrained for more than about half a minute. After the antibiotics, she looked so much better. She put on a little weight, which was great because she’s gotten very skinny in the last couple of years. She looked perkier and her fur looked better. Her tummy even stopped making bizarre noises.

All of a sudden about a week ago, she went back to looking sad and sickly. Right now she weighs under six pounds again. When she was healthy, she weight over eight pounds. I’ve already spent quite a bit of money getting her tested and treated, and I can’t afford another set of blood tests for another week. I’ll do what I can when I can, but I’m having to contemplate hard questions. Like how much money I’m willing to spend on her. How much stress I’m willing to put her through. How long I’m willing to drag this out. How to balance our desire to keep her in our lives with our desire to make sure she’s happy and comfortable.

For the most part, I’m in the “make her comfortable” camp. She’s already far outlived the average lifespan of an indoor/outdoor cat. Anything I can do for her probably wouldn’t equate to a lot more quality of life and might actually detract from it, and it’s not like we haven’t had many wonderful years with her. And we still have two of her kids, who are themselves 15 but looking astoundingly healthy for cats their age. I’m just sad to have the moment of clarity that she really is dying, whether slowly or quickly. So we’re just going to love on her as much as we can, make sure she has everything that we know makes her comfortable, and be ready to do whatever needs to be done to keep her out of pain or misery.

So that’s my world this week.

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