CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My friends -- whose numbers can be counted on two hands and include my husband, our pastor, our doctor and our lawyers -- should be relieved I have a column again.
Now they don't have to listen to my skillful and detailed email reports and take my calls at home. It all made them feel quite powerless to do anything to help me.
So they suffered as I did.
One such report was titled "My Summer Vacation."
It was about tumbling over my husband's cats in the backyard, getting so mad that I tore up my Versace sunglasses in front of the family while mumbling "... so much work for Mommy, so much work for Mommy, so much work for Mommy ..."
That day was 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Everyone in the family just looked at me, their mouths in little round O's, as I ripped my fabulous sunglasses apart and rolled in the grass.
My husband loves cats. I do not.
Having grown up in the country, I believe animals are for the out-of-doors, to be fed, exercised and otherwise ignored.
My husband, originally from the Philadelphia area, believes cats are people too.
I personally prefer a mean, loyal mutt.
THEREFORE we had six cats -- four inside and two outside. At same time we had three children under age 5.
And learning how to sleep with cats, while pregnant or nursing, for 60 months straight became a HUGE problem.
Suddenly we were introduced to yet another member of the family -- a tomcat named Kookai.
Strangely, our eldest son named him immediately without any prompting.
Kookai is a French fashion label; it also the name for a breed of horse called Swedish Warmblood.
This spooked me out. It reminded me that I used to buy clothes from Kookai and that this was possibly no ordinary cat.
Kookai, a 40-pound male, jumped on my chest in the middle of the night, every night. He watched me all day in the house like an ex-con. He incited all the other cats to misbehavior and cat chases all night and all day. He was responsible for falling lamps and bullying behavior.
Kookai never missed an opportunity to get outside, either, so the threat of fleas always loomed large.
Ultimately, the preschool-swinging-screen-door-constant-cat-escape-problem made Kookai my enemy.
One day on my way up the stairs I looked at him, and he looked at me. I said to him via mental telepathy, "You don't scare me. You are OUT OF HERE!"
When two more outside cats joined the funhouse, we paid for neutering, flea treatments, at-home vet visits and litter on each end of the house in all directions.
Nothing was achieved in my life except managing the cat population.
The two outdoor cats never used the litter. They preferred to mess the landscaping, not covering their poop.
So the boys played in cat poop! How about that, all you health-care professionals!
Everyone ruined all my ferns. I ceased to care. I left Pop-Tarts on the butcher block and slept until 9. I went on strike.
Ultimately, I collapsed in the yard. I told my husband, "It's the cats or me. They must disappear."
But neither one of us had the heart to put them down, because once we took responsibility for them, we believed it was right to follow through.
There were no baby sitters during all this, of course, because, of course, it was too hot for them to work.
Fred called no-kill animal shelters until he was blue in the face -- even ones in Pennsylvania! He ended up just bribing my faithful housekeeper to address the problem. Three of the six cats found homes.
And I didn't lift a finger on ANY of this, and family breakfast started to appear again at the crack of dawn.
Reach Tracy Herz at firstname.lastname@example.org.