Normally, I wake up when I hear my partner turn on the shower. It’s a strangely specific signal that the day has begun. But it works like a charm. The moment my partner turns on the water, I’m awake. Ready to go.
At this point, I typically get up, use the bathroom, get some caffeine in my system, and sit down to write the first words of the day.
But this morning I don’t wake up to water. Instead, I wake up to fiendish yowling. The feeling of peg legs poking into my chest. One of my cats has climbed up onto me and is screaming at the top of his lungs.
I grumble, attempt to free myself. He continues to scream. I reach for my phone, glance at its face. It’s 40 minutes earlier than I normally wake up. And I note that my partner seems to be in the bathroom but hasn’t started the shower water.
Then I remember. My partner has a doctor’s appointment today. That’s why he’s up so early.
And it occurs to me that he probably didn’t feed the cats first, like he normally does.
No one fed us! my cat is screaming. He’s doing the thing he normally does after he feeds us. We’re doomed. We’re gonna diiiiiiiie!
I laugh as I rise and dig out their food and set up breakfast for them. My older cat materializes mysteriously at the last second. I medicate him with his morning regimen (he’s over 20 and has comorbidities). He huffs a bit at this and then settles into his food.
And just like that, all is right in the world.
Little Changes Can Cause Big Stress
As I’m watching my cats eat, my partner starts up the shower. I sink into my chair, pulling out my notebook so I can start writing for the day.
It’s tough going at first. After all, I woke up in a weird way. And I fed the cats breakfast, something that my usually partner does (I typically mostly feed and do medications at night when my partner is out doing something; my one cat needs medication twice a day, so we have to plan around him).
I also note gloomily that I’ve given one cat the wrong flavor of wet food. That’s the one he normally gets at dinner. Well, at least he’s eating it. Still, I feel irritated with myself. I can’t even get something simple like feeding the cats breakfast right, can I?
My brain is tied in knots. “This is really silly,” I tell myself. “It shouldn’t be this hard to get going.”
But then I remember how distressed my cat had been that his routine was thrown out of order. And I nod. “Little changes can cause big stress,” I remind myself.
And strangely, that reminder helps. Just like that, the words start to flow.