When I think back to what almost feels like a lifetime ago, I can remember being a lady. I recall taking the time out to give myself manicures and pedicures put some kohl around my eyes, and actually iron my clothes before I put them on. I can’t tell you what happened to that lady, because we lost touch a long time ago. When I had my first son, she stuck around for a while. She was determined that a woman could be a mom and a diva all at the same time. And she was right. I mastered the art of carrying an infant car seat in one hand and a Kenneth Cole diaper bag in the other, all while balancing on a pair of high heeled boots. When I gave birth to the twins a few years later, the lady’s visits became fewer and further between. And then without giving me so much as a two weeks notice, she quit. It was as though I forgot how to function. I began using my hijab as an excuse not to comb, or even condition my hair the way I used to. My fingernails were jagged and eyes were bare. I stopped caring about style when selecting clothes and just settled for what fit. I became what that lady swore she would never allow me to become: a frumpy mom, who has been without a pedicure for so long that I could probably use my toenails as weapons. For me, getting dolled up means using lotion, and ironing my clothes before I put them on. I don’t think I was completely aware of what happened to me. White sweat socks were never fashionable with a dress, but somehow motherhood made it acceptable.
This morning, I walked up to the double doors to go into my office when I really took a good look at my reflection in it. Wouldn’t you know, that lady came back and tapped me on the shoulder? She told me to take a good look at how I let all her hard work come undone. I studied my dull complexion and my neglected body. For a second, I did not recognize the person looking back at me. How did I get sucked into the world of mom-jeans and ill-fitting shoes? And why have I replaced my nice purses with a recyclable grocery bag? I knew at that very moment that the lady was back to stay for a while. It’s as though a good friend returned after a long journey. Boy, am I glad to see her.