A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Pet Therapy

“Honey, pass the peas, please…. Bucket Head, stop licking your pork chop!… Who set the table? Nice job on the napkins, Mini-Me…. Oh, I forgot to tell you, Vincent has a band concert on Thursday; can you get home early?… Hey you guys, who wants Mommy to have another baby?”

“MEEEEEEEEEEE!” the kids all screamed simultaneously while my husband’s eyeballs popped out of his skull and rolled into his mashed potatoes.

Wait. What?

Did I really just say that? Out loud?

And my kids actually WANT me to have another baby?

What the what?!

I’m 43 years old. My husband had a vasectomy nanoseconds after Bucket Head’s birth. I have no business thinking about another baby.

And yet, I do. I think about it.

More so now than ever, particularly when I’m struggling so much with depression, I think about having something to put all my energy into so I can stop obsessing about myself and how bad I feel all the time.

Obviously it’s a terrible combination and not even a physical option, so I laughed it off and said “I’m just kidding!” to the kids and they groaned, “Awwwww! Don’t tease us like that!”

Duly noted.

But out of the blue, one of my sisters-in-law called last week and said, “I’m fostering a stray kitten and she’s really cute. Want her?”


Of course we wanted her! We love kitties! There has been a hole in our hearts ever since our beloved 3-year-old cat Gracie got sick and died suddenly last year. I still round the corner and expect to see her regally perched on the arm of the love seat, batting at Ike’s tail as he walks by.

Yes. We wanted a kitten. Well, 4 out of 5 of us wanted a kitten. We don’t call him “The Gatekeeper” for nothing. It was not going to be easy to convince my non-animal-loving husband to allow another pet into our home.

We already have a big, crazy dog whose interests include martial arts, high-end Swedish pajamas, and fecal art.

I don't always wear pajamas by The Bearded Iris

And then there’s our infamous Leopard Spotted Gecko with erectile dysfunction and a penchant for literary self-expression.

Yeah. I guess we’ve kinda got our hands full.


Wouldn’t hurt to ask though, right?

Uh… wrong. Presenting The Gatekeeper’s response:

Once he stopped sneering, he could list myriad reasons a kitten was a bad idea:

1.) the cost

2.) the mess

3.) the dog

4.) the hassle

5.) the scratching

6.) the smell

7.) the noise

8.) the additional clutter

9.) again, the cost

10.) “…seriously, do you not remember the mess?”

But then my sister-in-law stopped by just to show us the kitten, and this happened:

Pet Therapy by The Bearded Iris

And just like that, The Gatekeeper’s heart grew two sizes that day.

We named her Lucy.

She has two modes: complete spaz and narcoleptic stupor. I’ve actually seen her fall asleep in mid-grooming-lick. In fact, she’s sleeping on my lap right this minute. It is delightful.

The therapeutic properties of a high-energy/super-snuggly kitten are not to be underestimated. Plus, the whole family has banded together to tidy up the house so she has fewer piles to tumble in and scatter. Cleaner house? Priceless.

The pinkest toes ever | Pet Therapy by The Bearded IrisAnd it’s much harder to wallow in self-pity when you’re busy with things like admiring the pinkest toes ever and solving new mysteries like “What’s that on your nose, doggie? Wait… is that cat litter? OH GROSS! You’ve been eating cat shit?! Dammit.”

So there’s that.


Overall, I would say that Pet Therapy is working remarkably well. I still have a long way to go and a lot of work ahead of me, but I feel a little better than I did last week and that’s a good start.

I’m not saying kittens are THE answer to depression and anxiety. Your results may vary.

However, the side effects of a kitten are way less physiologically disturbing than any SSRI I’ve ever taken. So I’m thinking that I may be onto something here. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for me, I’ll probably be on the couch with a kitten asleep on my chest.

Try not to wake the baby, m’kay?

P.S. – For more photos of Lucy, as well as random family, garden, and life portraits, please follow me on Instagram.

Follow The Bearded Iris on Instagram



  1. Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0

    Okay, what you need to do is make some sort of app that will send pics of Lucy directly to my phone whenever the microphone detects raised voices. I would pay way too much for that.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Dude. That is a GREAT idea. Something like that would probably save lives and win us a Nobel peace prize. Have your people call my people!

  2. Gwen

    Thanks, Leslie. I recently lost my part time job and my littlest started full-day kinder. Still trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. As we just got a bird, a kitten is not going to work for me. You can kind of cuddle with the bird…

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Gwen – so sorry about your job and the shock of full-day Kindergarten. That’s a rough transition. “Cuddling your bird”…that’s a euphemism, right? WINK WINK!

  3. Jean

    I’m the gatekeeper in my family and I’ve been considering getting a dog. It’s been a rough fall. Happy kitty therapy is working for you.

    • WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion

      Jean, DO IT!!

      Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

      *Sees herself out…

    • The Bearded Iris

      DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! Seriously, it will do you a world of good! Sorry about your rough fall. Must be something in the water! Hugs, Jean.

  4. Kelly Fox

    Plus you now have the perfect excuse to remain on the couch (or in bed or in a chair…): “I’m sorry, I can’t get up. I can’t wake the sleeping kitten. You’ll have to do that yourself.”

    • The Bearded Iris

      TOTALLY! It is a rule in our house that the person with the sleeping kitten has full immunity from anything that requires movement. I am so milking that rule!

  5. Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla

    The publicist is most in favor of cats having four of them herself. Me? Let’s just say that I have been know to send them on little trips. Flying trips. Cats have no business getting that close to my head now do they?

    • The Bearded Iris

      FOUR CATS! Yowza – she is on the verge of being a crazy cat lady! Thank you for all the sweet Goat-of-the-Day pics. Very cheery. XO

  6. lisa thomson

    Haha! The Gatekeeper lost this one but we knew that would happen right? Yay pet therapy! Enjoy that little sweetie. I’ve been following your instagram pics so I’m in the know 🙂 I’m ‘lisathomthumb’ on instagram in case you were wondering who that weird name belonged to. My daughter named me…see they get back at ya sooner or later.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha! True dat, Lisa. Off to make sure I’m following you back on Instagram. That’s been my favorite social medium lately! See you over there…

  7. Menopausal Mother

    I think Lucy came into your life at just the right time. The Hubs bought me two rescue pugs to help put a smile on my face when life got really sucky. Now, when I’m feeling particularly crappy, I can snuggle up with my “babies” and all is right with the world. I think you’ll find the same will be true with Lucy. Enjoy her. XO

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Marcia! Yes, I totally agree. There is a reason she appeared in our lives when she did, and we’re all the better for it. Thanks be to God, and my sister-in-law! 🙂

  8. Janine

    There’s a reason why I have six cats…and a dog with a seizure disorder. Menopause plus divorce plus empty nest looming plus depression/anxiety…nothing gets you motivated like being needed 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      So true. I think I’ll always be a pet owner for that very reason! 🙂

  9. Scarlett

    SO cute – glad the little one is helping with everything too! x

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Scarlett. She is a sweetie!

  10. Arnebya

    I want a Lucy! Seriously. My husband is allergic, though, always pulling that my eyes will sell shut and my throat will constrict what if I die from an asthma attack because of dander in my nasal passage dramatic bullshit. TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM DAMMIT. If you loved us, you’d pop a Primatene Mist, drink some Claritin laced Benadryl, hit the inhaler and keep it movin’. I’m sorry you’re having a rough go but I’m glad that pet therapy is working for you.

    • The Bearded Iris

      You crack me up, Arnebya. Allergic husband eh? There’s an app for that. (Probably.)

  11. L. Hewitt

    I have a long, beautiful story about my kitten, “Darlin”. I found her last year the same week y’all lost Gracie, and that is most of the reason I got to keep her. She is bat-shit crazy. I love her. I’ll have to tell you about it one day – right now – I’m tired – we bought a house. You hang in there. Muah

    • The Bearded Iris

      Aw, really? Whoa – that really is a beautiful story, Lisa. I’m thinking Gracie must have sent her to you. What a blessing for you both. Bat-shit crazy cats are the best kind! Would definitely love to hear more. Hanging in. Feeling a little better each day. May have discovered the missing link! Will update you soon!

  12. WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion

    Babies who poop in a box instead of a diaper are NEVER a bad idea. I whole-heartedly believe in the healing power of pets, Mama. Snuggle away!

    P.S. Sorry to hear you’ve been down lately. If you need a pick me up, let me know and I’ll ship ya my 2.5 y/o. Much like your adorable doggie, she also enjoys fecal art……………

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha! Somehow canine fecal art is much easier to tolerate than toddler fecal art. You keep him. You’re going to need a diaper-fetcher when bambino #3 comes down the water slide.

  13. Kim- One Classy Motha

    Our dog, kitty, fish, second dog…I adopted each during a particularly hard time, including 2 miscarriages. Yes, they were an added responsibility, an added cost, and at times an added inconvenience – but they gave me a reason to focus outside of myself, they shook up our routine, they brought joy, and by doing that they helped me through some of my darkest days.

    So you keep that kitten and love its little heart out! Just don’t pull a “Lennie”.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Okay, Kim, that just made me cackle. I do love to pet her and love her and hug her. I might be Lennie!

      You are so right though – something to focus on outside of myself is so helpful right now. I see brighter days ahead now, for sure. Hugs to you. Thanks for being here with me.

  14. Amy

    I have my own baby cravings lately – I hadn’t even considered a pet alternative. But I generally don’t like things with fur and/or that eat their own poop. Are fish cuddly? Glad you are feeling a bit better!

  15. Aviva

    Aww sweet kitty! My form of pet therapy is fostering guinea pigs! Cuddly + perky! Long as they have a big enough cage like at guineapigcages.com and they’re so excited about everything (“OMG! I love running around so much!!! Lettuce!!!! It’s the best day ever!!!”) You can tell by my exclamation points that I have had coffee!!!!

  16. Carrie

    No babies. No babies. No babies.

    For me.

    I screamed (yes, screamed like a crazed padded wall humper) at my husband just yesterday morning over our 15-year olds attitude I can’t take much more of.

    I feel horrible now for that. I’ve apologized 97 times. So, a baby would push me right over that jagged edge cliff.

    But you?? HELLZ YEAH! I say have another one!!


  17. Snappy

    What a great addition to your family!

    But I have to ask…why not a snapping turtle?! Just kidding.

  18. Julie the Wife

    One April Fools Day a few years ago I told the kids I was pregnant, and they were all “YAY!!!” and I went “Holy shit, people, that is a JOKE. A JOKE, I tell you!” and they were all “AWWW” and I said, “HAVE YOU PEOPLE BEEN LIVING HERE THE LAST 7 YEARS?!” But I am angling for a puppy. Our gatekeeper is hardcore too.

  19. Andrea

    Kitten therapy WORKS. I have been trying to convince my husband’s allergies for years that they need to move out already.

  20. Terrie in Atlanta

    Why is it always the MEN who have pet allergies?! I’m sensing a conspiracy here.

  21. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

    Kitten therapy is the answer. At least for us too. Another therapy for me? Your dog meme. Still snickering.


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