Messy Love

I own two cats: General Sterling Price and Olivia de Haviland. After my weekly race around the house with a vacuum cleaner, I gather enough fur to assemble a third cat. My office chair, once a professional shade of ebony, looks as though it’s been reupholstered in white mohair. My knock-off William Morris reading chair has a cat-sized blonde toupee on the center of the seat. Rays of summer sunshine highlight golden streams of floating fur.


Needless to say, black clothing is not advisable at my house.

But all the feline fur two small monsters can generate is nothing compared to what my darling long-dead dog left behind. Nearly two years after her passing, I was still finding clumps of dog fur (she was part Samoyed) behind furniture. And five years on, my husband and I have yet to replace the three (!) doors she gouged after accidentally locking herself in various bathrooms during her dotage.

That’s the price of love. It’s a messy proposition.

When my sweet dog Holly dropped her head in my lap and gazed at me with those pools of brown adoration, I would have happily swept up all the sawdust from every door in my house. When my blonde tomcat General climbs ever so slowly to the sofa, snuggles against my left leg, and begins snoring softly, I would happily relinquish my special reading chair … and frankly, every other human seating surface in my house. When my prissy tortie-point Olivia snags yet another sweater as she perches on my shoulder and kneads my arm in a purring frenzy, well … actually, then, I do get mad. But I don’t stay that way for long.

And when my pre-teen son gives me one of his increasingly rare bear hugs, I turn a blind eye to the state of his bedroom, the various “Nerf mods” cluttering up the garage, the piles of Legos and books and computer paraphernalia that make it all but impossible to race around the house with a vacuum.

I know that one day, way before I’m ready, he will stop making messes in my living room.

Working parents of wee ones, wear that shoulder spit-up proudly. Leaders of the pack, own that dog slobber on your pants. Cool cats, you have been marked with floating furs of worthiness.

And parents of young people who are growing up faster and spreading their wings farther and becoming more independent than any of us ever expected, embrace that messy love in all its forms: outlandish clothing, hair dye and eye makeup, loud music and eye rolling, kitchen and garage experiments, dirty laundry and disorganized closets.

But let’s make them pick up their bedrooms once a week. After all, we’re not animals.