I think my life might be a circus. I know what you may be thinking: that you all have known this for quite some time and I must be slow to just now be figuring it out. (There is some merit to that theory.)
I tend to mosey through my life, thinking it is relatively calm – normal even – until something comes along to make me wonder what is happening.
This past weekend, I had one of those moments. You see, both of my girls are in serious relationships. Both of their boyfriends are really good guys. Both were at the house this weekend. Both can eat like elephants. Breakfast took three pounds of sausage and several pounds of flour mixed into a triple batch of pancakes. Lunch was leftover cleanup, and dinner consisted of four pounds of burgers and trays of tater tots. It was incredible to watch, and I truly enjoyed it.
We spent a lot of time around the table laughing, talking and eating. All five of the kids were involved in the ruckus. After awhile, the din escalated and I had to excuse myself to the kitchen. I absolutely love being a part of their joy and laughter, but I suffer from anxiety, and there is a point at which it all just becomes noise.
On my way to the kitchen, I bent down to take the dog away from the cats’ bowl. In under five minutes, he can clean out what amounts to a day’s worth of food for them. I led the dog over to his own bowl, where I found – I’m not kidding, here – five cats gnawing on his bowl of food.
There are two issues with this. Number one, the dog food isn’t superb nutrition for cats, and two, I don’t have five inside cats. Someone had let our old, orange barn cat into the house, and he was making himself quite at home.
I let go of the dog to scoop up the cat, and he skedaddled back to the cat bowl. I set the cat down outside with a handful of food and went back for the dog. At the same time, the cacophony from the dining room grew louder. I grabbed hold of the dog’s collar again and picked the cat bowl off the floor and set it on the counter out of his reach. I then took the dog’s bowl from the kitchen, still leading the dog toward the door. I went outside with him and sat down while he and the barn cat ate.
I practiced deep breathing for a few minutes, while petting the animals and praying for God’s peace and calm to come over me. When I felt better, I went back inside. The first thing I noticed was that the noise from the dining room had subsided. Plates were clinking as they began to clear the table.
I rounded the corner to rejoin them, feeling calm enough to return. It was short-lived, however, as the second I stepped into the kitchen, I saw that the four cats who remained indoors had all jumped onto the counter to continue munching from the bowl of food I had set there. They scattered when I clapped my hands.
The circus is in town, and we are in serious need of a ringmaster.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.