I don't mention her much, though she is a part of a family, and the omission is, sadly, rather symbolic of her life now. She spends much of her days behind-the-scenes, in hiding from the loud, smelly, unpredictable youngest members of the household. Though in recent months, as Abby has gotten older and Gracie has gotten bolder, my furriest "child" has begun to place herself in the midst of the action, or at least on the sidelines, our relationship is not now, and likely never will be, what it once was.
There was a time when she was my baby, my only. I even have an old Christmas card lying around somewhere- that Tom thinks is sad, but I still think is sweet- in which I posed with her in front of my little fake Christmas tree and sent out holiday greetings from the two of us. She's always been a bit standoffish at times, but kept herself nearby at all times, and slept by my feet nearly every night.
When I became pregnant for the first time, and my restless legs became nearly unbearably restless, she became rather discouraged by the constant repositioning. She would still try to stick it out in the beginning of the night, but after Abby came along and took up residence in the bedroom with Tom and me, I wasn't so keen on having Gracie in there, too. Though babies have come and gone in our bedroom through the years, my allergies have only worsened (and yes, they do include cat dander- crazy me, I know), and once we made the move to the new house, I set a new standard, keeping her out of the bedroom altogether.
It still breaks my heart on the random nights that she whines to come in, but I'm hoping it's for the best. After all, Michael may have moved out for now, but Raspberry will be moving in before long.
Besides the loss of her special position and access to my bedroom, and the introduction of those scary beings that I call my children, Gracie has had to put up with my swift confiscation of all of her toys, and reluctance to replace them.
It sounds terrible, I know, but once Abby became mobile, I discovered that she was going to claim ownership of anything that she came across, whether it be Tom's, mine, or Gracie's. I couldn't exactly teach Gracie to put her toys away, out of Abby's reach, and I didn't want Abby gnawing on the same things that Gracie had. One could make an argument about the cleanliness of dog's mouths, but I've never heard anyone even attempt one regarding cats (and I wouldn't believe them if they did- I've seen where cat's mouths go).
Gracie has made do, over the years, batting at random scraps of trash when the mood strikes her. In particular, she's developed a fondness for dirty socks, which she grabs from the laundry room and drags all over the house, meowing as she goes.
However, Nana was determined to cover every member of the family during gift-giving this year, and bought Gracie a little package of toy mice. I've been hesitant to open it, because I didn't want to give Gracie something I know I'll probably just have to take away once it ends up in a "kid zone," but I caved yesterday and did it anyway, because sweet little Abby asked me to. "Give toy mouse to Gracie!" she said. How could I refuse?
At the moment Abby asked, Gracie was not around, but I promised that we could offer it to her when she appeared. When that moment came, I threw a mouse Gracie's way, but she looked more confused and startled than appreciative, and skittered off without touching it. It has remained in the same spot on the hallway floor ever since.
Two more mice remained, however, and Abby and Michael got into them this evening. Unlike Gracie, they took a great interest. Though they each had one- Abby the red and Michael the blue- Abby threw hers over the gate and lost interest just before I got the camera out, so I focused exclusively on Michael.
I didn't feel like the most responsible person ever, letting them play with the things, especially Michael. But he was so happy and excited.
The trouble is: they're made for a cat, so I don't have a lot of faith in the materials, if either child should start to chew in earnest. Those cute little red ears could probably be removed and ingested, no problem, and who knows what's in the stuffing.
The most immediate concern I had, however, was the little bell attached to the end of the tail. Probably too small to actually choke on, but I didn't want anyone eating it either. So I let him play, but I watched him like a hawk.
Eventually, the inevitable happened: the end of the tail went into Michael's mouth, and Mean Mommy had to snatch the toy away. He fussed and whined and stared forlornly over the gate at where I had thrown it into the hallway, but then he moved on.
And tonight, I'll probably be putting those cute, colorful little guys away for good.
Sorry, Gracie. Maybe in a few more years...