The Real You—An Endangered Species? by Cheryl L. Butler

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butler_cherylEditor’s Note:  Congratulations to our friend and CatholicMom.com contributor Cheryl Butler on the launch of her new website and the publication of her first book, Pregnant Women Don’t Eat Cabbage.  Great job Cheryl!

Yesterday I had an extremely close call with reality.  As I quickly flossed my teeth (is there really any other way?) somewhere between my upper right bicuspid and molar I looked into my Colgate spattered mirror and let out a startling gasp.  “Who the heck are you?” I said short of breath.  “And what are you doing in my “his & her” bathroom?”

There was dead silence.  The familiar looking face did not respond, instead, she just grimaced at me let out a mysterious little cackle.  Next thing I knew, my gums were bleeding (never floss with a vengeance) and I was darting out the door to another jam-packed day of errands, car pooling, meal making, laundering (clothes—not money) and anything else that stay-at-home moms do on a regular basis.

I didn’t have a second to spare that day, but there in the back of my recently coiffed head I kept hearing that cackle and worse saw that almost recognizable face trying to get my attention.  “Whatever could her message be?” I agonized.

Thank goodness for technology and my ability to operate a cell phone and chew gum at the same time because each time I dared to revisit my puzzling bathroom encounter, I was saved by the bell.  First it was a pal that needed help with a pick up after practice—her meeting was going to run well into the dinner hour.  Next, the eye doctor needed to change an appointment I had scheduled a year earlier.  Here’s the husband on line 2, “Can you pick up the lawnmower from the repair shop before 6 PM?”  Oldest son now sends a text about needing $20 delivered to school by 2 PM—forgot to tell me about important field trip.  (Although I can read a text, please don’t ask me to send one!)

I continue driving and am having one darn good conversation with myself (usually the only time I get a word in edgewise) about where I am going to stick that lawnmower with a car full of groceries and meanwhile have driven by my son’s school and am now late for the pre-school pick up.  That cackling—–it’s much louder now and it’s beginning to haunt me.

This morning I can’t get my toothbrush out fast enough.  Though my dental background may have something to do with my fastidious brushing and flossing habits, it’s my spotted bathroom mirror I’m most interested in.  I took my time and slowly hummed “Whistle While You Work”        as I flossed, but that familiar face I longed to see did not appear.  I patiently waited for 2 whole minutes, but then duty called—there was a dead bird at the bus stop forcing me to crumple my floss and run.  Maybe I’d see her tomorrow.

My day picks up momentum as soon as my seven school-aged kids are off to school on that glorious yellow chariot known as the bus.  Three loads of laundry under my belt, dishwasher unloaded, reloaded and now whirring away to what I  swear is actually the melody of “Killing me Softly”, but don’t quote me on that, the cable man arrived during the last four minutes of his said time block only to tell me he’ll have to return tomorrow with a new box, and now I  must move fast enough so I can deliver my 4-year-old to nursery school without having to mingle too long with the other mommies that want to chat about whether or not it’s a good idea to introduce a second language like French or Chinese before the kid has mastered the alphabet in English. What a grind!

This all said and done, I quickly head to the local coffee shop where I order a double iced tea, hold the lemon, and sit and join three of my best friends for a quick “how’s it going” before heading back to the nursery school an hour later where hopefully the foreign language crisis will be solved.

“Cheryl, you look awful,” said the only human being I won’t wallop for telling me this, my friend who has four kids and is expecting her fifth.  Moments later, our two other friends arrived, both in fine business attire due to their busy corporate lifestyles, and I got the eye from them as well, so now I know I must look un-Cheryl-like! My coffee mates gently asked why I hadn’t been returning phone calls and wanted confirmation about whether the rumors that I was actually cutting my own bangs and worse—was considering a Lilt home perm to save time was true?  Eek!  They were on to me!

Now it was starting to make sense—that familiar face in my bathroom mirror was me—but with the crazy end-of-school year routine already taking its toll, little by little, I was disappearing right before my very eyes.  Instead of slowly sipping my daily cup of busy, I was drowning in it.  If I didn’t act quickly, next Id be starring in a Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom show—The Real You—Saving an Endangered Species!

Not wanting to have my picture on the front of a stamp collection encouraging the human race to save me like the blue whale or our cousin the gorilla, I was grateful to have recognized that familiar person signaling to get out beyond my toothpaste splattered mirror—the real me.  She’s the gal I knew better than anyone else before I journeyed into wife and motherhood but every now and then she runs away.  As long as I make the time to grab on to her and pull her back home (when I’m done flossing, of course) that’s ok, but under no circumstance is it ok to let her real identity become an endangered species or allow her to cut her own bangs—ever again!

Copyright 2010 Cheryl Butler

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