Several weeks ago, my daughter Imogen and I took our dog Nora to the vet for her annual check-up.

“I hope the vet thinks we’ve been taking good care of her,” said Imogen.

“Nora looks okay,” I said, glancing over my shoulder at the grinning dog sprawled along the back seat of the car. “We haven’t overfed her so she's not fat.”

“But will she behave? Will she do what’s she’s told? Perhaps we should have spent more time training her.”

We needn’t have worried. We passed the vet’s pet owners' test with full marks. He declared Nora in excellent health and the three of us grinned all the way home.

“It’s just as well the vet has never seen our cats,” said Imogen. “What would he think of us if he saw them?”

We have three cats and they’re a little bit fat. Yes, their stomachs sway below them as they saunter along. We’ve tried restricting their food. We measure it out very carefully. But somehow they never seem to get any thinner. Excess weight isn't their only problem. Two of our fat cats are going bald: They have hairless patches between their eyes and their ears. But the cats are happy. They're okay. Even if they don’t get an annual check-up like the dog.

My children don’t get an annual check-up either. No, there has to be a good reason for me to take them to see the doctor. Unlike years ago.

When I was a much younger and inexperienced mother, I was always rushing off to the medical centre with a child who seemed under the weather. And almost every time, while we were waiting for our turn to see the doctor, a miracle would occur.

“She looked very sick an hour ago,” I’d say to the doctor as he examined a suddenly revived child. Or perhaps I’d made a mistake. Could I have panicked? I suppose doctors are accustomed to new and insecure mothers.

Eventually, I learnt to relax and not run to the doctor every time my children sniffed or coughed or were quiet for more than ten minutes at a time. “You’ll be okay,” I’d say, after a quick examination. “Tomorrow you’ll feel much better.” And sometimes this was true. And sometimes it wasn’t.

One winter, I suddenly realised the cold my son Duncan had had for a week wasn’t actually a cold. I took him to our GP who sent us straight to the hospital. The doctor in the emergency department looked at Duncan, who could hardly keep upright, and said, “He has pneumonia. Why didn’t you seek medical advice sooner?” I turned slightly red and mumbled something like, “I only just noticed he’s so sick. He seemed okay before...”

Only just noticed? I had a baby in my arms. Did the doctor know about my other children? Perhaps he thought I had too many children to pay attention to them all. Sometimes I wondered this myself. Maybe there wasn't enough of me to go around.

Over the years, we had more emergency trips to the hospital with various children. But no one actually died. Except Thomas of course. But that wasn’t my fault. (Was it okay to write those last sentences? I didn't mean to write them. They just floated out of my mind.) Somehow we muddled through those exhausting times when I often failed to keep on top of everything. We survived.

When I began mothering, I had big ideas. I wanted to give my full attention to each of our children. They were going to be brought up perfectly. At least that’s what I’d hoped. It’s just as well, I discovered there’s more important things than perfection because it didn’t work out how I imagined.

I found out that it’s the difficult times, the ones we muddle through, which teach us the most about love.

Anyway, muddles come to an end. It’s really quite calm and civilised around here these days. But there's still lots of love. Except between the cats and the dog.

"Nora!" we yell as we extract a caught cat from the dog's mouth. The frightened cat hisses and lashes out at the dog’s nose before sinking her teeth into her rescuer’s hand. Unintentionally, of course. 

Maybe things aren't so calm and civilised around here after all.

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  1. I remember years ago as a young mother wondering whether to take the kids to the doctor or not. The doctor's nurse gave me excellent advice and said if the kids are sick but still pretty much doing their normal thing, like eating, playing, sleeping okay, chances are you don't have to have them seen. But if they deviate from their normal routine, then it might be good to get a checkup. I started following that advice and it did cut down on doctor visits :)

    I also used that same theory when we had Koda. If he seemed under the weather but was still eating and being interactive with us, we saved a vet visit.

    Glad to hear Nora got a good checkup. Interesting how the cats remain fat....must be finding a meal some place :)


  2. Nancy,

    It was funny how we felt like we were being tested. Fortunately we passed. We can breathe a big sigh of relief!

  3. Hurrah for Nora! We have yet to take Molly the Cat to the Vet for a look-see. I suppose we ought to so we can establish a relationship with the Vet when Molly really needs to be looked at.

    1. Susie,

      Molly looks very well and happy. I hope it's a long time before she needs the attention of a vet!

  4. I like your new blog very much! And I would like to read more about prayer life of your family, if you would share it with us. How did you pray with babies/toddlers, and then how did it change later, how and when do you pray together...
    Your blogs have blessed me in so many ways and I am epecially thankful that my faith grew stronger and stronger while reading your posts about your beautiful family. And I love that you keep it so real and also share struggles and hard times.
    I wish you that all

    1. Luana,

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment. It will encourage me to keep on writing here. Recently, I've been busy reorganising my unschooling blog and haven't had any time for writing stories to post on this blog. But since I read your comment, ideas have ben racing through my mind! Prayer? I could think about that though I must admit we could always do better as far as praying together goes. Despite your kind words, we really are very imperfect. But yes, I will share what we do and how things have changed over the years!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and for bringing joy to my day. God bless you!


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