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Cheryl Hughes: My Career As a Woman

Unless This Is An Emergency: In our early marriage, my husband, Garey, who didn’t understand how my mind works, often accused me of being selfish toward him and our children.  “You have sections of time for us, but you don’t include us in your whole life,” he would say.  He was right, and I used to feel guilty about it, because I didn’t know how to explain what it was like to be me.

Over the years, I have come to understand that I compartmentalize, and I have been able to explain this to my family in a way that they no longer feel rejected.  As a writer, I have to group thoughts into separate compositions.  Today, I’m working on two articles and a column for the paper and one human interest story for a magazine.  I need quiet.  I’m not going to get it, of course, but I need it.  

One of my favorite stories involves the song writer, Johnny Mercer.  Johnny was lying on his living room couch with his feet up, his head on a pillow and his eyes closed.  His children came whooping and hollering into the room, like kids tend to do.  Johnny’s wife immediately shushed them with, “Quiet kids!  Daddy’s working.”  I understood, and I wished, as I read those words, that I too had a shusher.  

My life is a cacophony of chaos these days.  My oldest daughter is a single mom.  She and our first grand child, Sabria, live with us.  Also residing at my house is my niece, Naonna, who is an out-going and generous soul, which means there is a steady stream of her friends coming and going in our lives as well.  If there is a problem at my house, the names Cheryl, Mom or Aunt Cheryl often come wafting over the distress frequencies.  I am the fixer and the finder at my house.  (I’m thinking about changing my names to Dad, Garey and Uncle Garey.)

My friend, John, is a master at dealing with interruptions.  John is a music professor at WKU.  He plays guitar and often practices before performances.  He went to Kinkos and had a very professional sign made that read:  I Am Practicing
                         Do Not Disturb Me
                         Unless This Is An Emergency
                         Or You Are My Mother
(John really loves his mom.)

I showed up at his door one day to get him to re-string my guitar.  I can do it, but he does a much better job, and besides, he promised me he’d do it.  I read his Kinkos note.  I didn’t knock.  I dialed his phone instead.  I got his answering machine.  I left this message:  John, I am your mother and I have an emergency!  I knew my only chance at getting him to the door was humor.  The door opened.  A not-so-amused hand reached out and grabbed my guitar.  The door closed in my face.  I opened the door and walked into John’s living room where he had already started taking the strings off of my guitar.  He finished in record time then handed me my guitar.  “Now get out of my house,” he said.  “I love you too,” I said, “And by the way, thanks.”

Back to the three articles and a column I have been working on today.  I made it clear to everybody that I am writing, and I don’t need to be interrupted.  There is a knock on the door of the room where I am writing.  Garey sticks his head in.  “I thought you might want to ride out on the farm with me,” he says.  “Nope. Writing,” I say.  “Aunt Cheryl, we’re cutting the strawberry cake!” my niece yells from the kitchen.  “Go right ahead!” I yell back.  “Mom!” Natalie doesn’t knock—just opens the door, “Can you hurry up and finish.  I’ve got homework, and I can’t get Sabria to take a nap.”  “Sorry,” I say, “I had two kids to take care of when I went back to get my degree.  You can handle it.”

Maybe I should go to Kinkos.  My sign could say: 

                            I Am Writing
                                   Do Not Disturb Me
                                   Unless This Is An Emergency
                            Today, I Am Not Your Mother,
                                           Your Aunt, Nor
                                            Your Wife  



Cheryl Hughes lives on a farm in Butler County where she is wife to Garey; mom to Natalie and Nikki; grandmother to Sabria; and caretaker to two dogs, three cats and two horses.  She holds a bachelors degree in music and enjoys playing guitar and freelance writing.



Brilliant Article. The deeper you get the better your writing gets.

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