Who Am I, Anyway?

Every morning I wake up and open my various email accounts to delete out the numerous political and quasi-political messages that I now receive.  This has become as important in my daily routine as brushing my teeth and showering.  I also get all sorts of blog invites and links that I have learned to remove before spending gobs of time reading through, only to discover that the blogger isn’t my cup of tea.

I’m guessing I’m no different than most people nowadays.

This morning, as I perused the list of senders, I became painfully aware that none really represented me, Cheryl Dickow, very well. I feel like a “normal,” “regular” citizen and yet as I read through different snippets of what was in my “in” box, I realized that I don’t actually belong in any one particular group nor am I really represented by one any voice “out there.”  I don’t seem to fit anywhere.

And that bothers me.  Like all people, I want to belong.

It made me ask myself, “Who am I?”

First and foremost, I’m Catholic.  And with the number of well-known Catholics now on the world’s stage you would think I could make that statement with great honor and enthusiasm.  But I cannot.  You’d think that there wouldn’t be enough time in the day for me to read all the great and wonderful things that my Catholic brothers and sisters are doing in the political arena.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case either. I cringe at the fact that the Vice President of the United States and the Speaker of the House wear their Catholic badge right next to their pro-abort badge for all to see.

I even find it difficult to defend such popular Catholic television personalities as Bill O’Riley of Fox Network News fame.  I want to be proud of his work but can’t get over how rude he is to so many people.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a guest on O’Riley being allowed to finish a sentence.  If I had a talk show I would definitely try to show that Catholics understand and practice such virtuous behavior as generosity of spirit – forgetting about self — or charity towards others.

I say that I am pro-life and faithful to the Magisterium.  I guess I had always assumed that was part and parcel of being Catholic but the Notre Dame debacle firmly and finally put that naïve belief to rest.  In fact, I was surprised at how many friends and family staunchly supported the ND decision with some even going as far as to tell me I ought to “get with the times.”

I cook fairly well (just don’t ask me to make rice) but don’t bake or sew.  It isn’t that I don’t try because I do try, with my whole heart. Baking just doesn’t happen for me.

Sewing is right up there with baking.  Halloween was, by far, the day I dreaded most when my boys were young.  While all the other mothers were busy sewing and baking – because this is biggest baking/sewing holiday of all — I was sweating about the cookies I was supposed to be making for the class party and the costumes that the boys would be wearing.  One year stands out particularly well for me.

After a month of stress and worry I decided that I could make a mummy costume for my son.  I figured I would just take a really large sheet and rip it into strips and wrap my son in the strips of cloth.  Needless to say I did not consider how the strips would stay up – with gravity and all and me not being a sewer – and on my son.  I cleverly used glue, safety pins and rope. I think he was able to make it to two houses before the entire costume was around his ankles.  I encouraged him that he now had a “true” mummy look and he persevered collecting his candy, no doubt among the stares of other “sewing” moms.

I share all this to say that when someone sent me a link to a sewing, baking, blogging Catholic mom, I had no interest.  The blog wasn’t about helping me become a sewer or baker but mostly how great she was — that I didn’t need.

Did I mention that I am also middle-aged?  Well, that assumes I’ll live to be around 102.  I earned my Master’s Degree in my early 40s and thought, for sure, that between my experience in the classroom and my degree in education I would be ripe for picking as I attempted to find a public school job.  I did land one interview and can remember being surrounded by young, inexperienced counterparts.  Where they were bubbly and full of the “right” answers, I was peaceful because I knew teaching was what I really wanted to do — having done it for a dozen years — and I was armed with a few of the “real” answers.  I wasn’t intimidated by the sheer numbers of young applicants because I knew there were many openings and was confident that any administrator would see the value of a combination of that fresh, new blood mixed in with a little of my experience.  After all, I wasn’t quite ready for Geritol – that’s an iron supplement my grandma used to take.

Anyhow, not one of those positions went to me – or anyone who had ever taught.  Every position was filled with a fresh face right out of college. Youth really does trump experience.  Age discrimination is alive and well and I did my best to offer up my disappointment. Two years later, however, the entire staff that had been hired that fateful day was on maternity leave.  The principal, who originally prided herself on her stable of young teachers, was made frantic by the sheer demands of half her teachers being out for the major part of the school year.

I went to confession for the glee that brought to my heart.

I’m sort of eco-green but not “green” enough; I am sure, to actually be saving the planet.  A plastic bottle has been known to make its way into my trash bin instead of my recycling bin and I will always purchase the less expensive laundry detergent, regardless of how many suds it produces.

Did I mention that I don’t love animals?  Well, I love them as God’s creatures but not as pets.  I know this may be cause for alarm for many people but I’ve just never warmed up to the idea of animals in my home.  My boys kept me busy enough.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I’m not cleaning up “goodies” left on my lawn by neighboring pets – but don’t get me started on that.

Interestingly, one of the public school interview questions was, no kidding, “You have a student whose dog has died.  What do you do?”  Well, as I do my best to practice Catholic virtues such as kindness and compassion I gave an honest answer but it may not have been the “right” one. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get the job.  Who knows?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t understand other people’s love for their animals which I know are often a very real member of their family; it’s just that I’ve never had a pet.  Once, when my youngest son was a baby, I was attacked by a dog while I held my son in my arms and that is something that I’ve never, ever gotten over.

Anyhow, so here I am, a middle-aged pro-life, semi-green Catholic woman believing in the authority of the Magisterium who doesn’t bake or sew and isn’t a pet lover.  I am busy every morning deleting emails that can’t possibly be meant for me and wondering where I belong.

Anybody wanna start a group?

Cheryl Dickow


Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at www.BezalelBooks.com. To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com.

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  • Ah, the perfect wheat field, the one that Christ said would never exist and that we should let Him worry about it and take care of the weeds in our wheat field, but we insist that we can do better than He even though He told not to worry about the weeds.

  • mcisk

    Right with you, Cheryl!! God is good.

  • Cheryl,

    I have often maintained that the Catholic Church is less a community and more a zoo for eccentrics. You don’t sound like you fit in. Have you tried Scientology?

  • Tarheel

    Being a guy I can’t relate to the not sewing or baking. well maybe I can. I had to sew my stripes on in the USAF (until I met my wife). And after 30 plus years of marriage my scars I got sewing are finally starting to heal. As for baking, by reading the box I can do well at baking cakes. And I do a “mean” job of turkey or “drunk chicken. Must be the Cajun genes in me running loose.

    But I loved this article. Its honesty was real and I’m still laughing with it. And as soon as you figure which group to belong to so you don’t receive all those wacky emails.

    Form a group here on CE.

  • markiemarie

    HI Cheryl , How about starting a Eucharistic Adoration Group Where Your At, It can only Help Never Hurt. Some of The Greatest Saints had the worst dispositions, Padre Pio , St. Anthony , Many More,,,as For Bill O’Reilly , he’s better than a lot of so called “catholic bishops ‘, who advocate the woman Priesthood Movement ,Gay Marriage , Contraception and Abortion. Mr. O’Reilly Gives Away Millions of Dollars to Various Charities. Saints aren’t creampuffs,sister,God Bless.

  • Warren Jewell

    Even as the Church has been described as “Here comes Everybody!” where all of us must go is to Christ, Who has been with the truest and best ‘who I am’ all along.

    In a nutshell, find Who is I Am Who Am’ and find, too, ‘I am who I am’.

  • Mary Kochan

    Anthony! Don’t you dare try to send my right arm away. (LOL)

    Self-deprecation aside, Cheryl is, of course, very talented (with or without cookies) and doing a great job with Today’s Catholic Woman. We are blessed to have her on our side.

  • pfmacarthur

    I agree with Mary! We are lucky to have you, Cheryl!

  • plowshare

    I don’t suppose there is any one blog that meets all your needs, but here is a blog that certainly is pro-life and talks about various parental concerns in addition to political ones:
    she has a long list of categories on the left edge. I tried clicking on “skirts” and found it has one entry: an eye-opening article on a British school that banned skirts for girls because girls were getting around a rule about long a skirt is acceptable–a Solomonic solution unenlightened by the wisdom of Solomon:

  • miles_dei

    I, myself, recently wrote a blog with the same theme. I just turned 39 and I’m on the trail head of my mid life. However I’m not nearly as Blessed to have a family like Cheryl, and I’m not as talented a writer, I understand what is being communicated here. God Bless you Cheryl. PS I won’t bother writing down a link to my blog, because, I get it, it’s not you. That’s alright. :o)