Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Invisible Mom

A while ago some one (thanks Joyce) sent a video clip to me in an email.  It was a woman talking about being invisible.  It was something that I definately needed to hear that particular day.  Today I decided to look it up on the internet so I could post it here.  I hope all you moms (and other women) take time to read it.

I'm Invisible

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more:

Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being.

I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'

I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'

I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, and she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And, the workman replied, 'Because God sees.' I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime, because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Isn't it beautiful?  Lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed with life.  I feel there is so much I need to accomplish, so much that I am falling short in.  I am that mom with the peanut butter hair who looks around at everyone else's seemingly put together life and gets discouraged at my own inability to get it all together.  Some days I feel like I spend the whole day meeting everyone else's needs without a notice and without time for myself.  I'm lucky if I get out of my sweats, I've had a brilliant day if I get a shower.  I have goals and dreams that are pushed to the side while I try to help my family reach theirs.  Now, I'm not trying build my self up as some righteous marter or paint a pitiful picture of poor little me.  This was my choice in life.  I do it because I love being a mother.  But even though I love it, some days it can be overwhelming.  Some days I wish I was invisible, other days I wish people would stop to see if I'm still breathing!  This is the life of a mother. 
The reason I wanted to post this is because it lifted me up when I needed it.  It made me feel good about my quiet efforts.  It reminded me that, while others may not, God does see our efforts and He knows our hearts.  The master piece that we are building is magnificent and nothing can compare to it.  Nothing will bring us greater joy.  No success, no degree, no amount of money can compare to our quiet work within our home.  So, to all you invisible mothers out there, I see you.  I see your work.  I marvel at your strength and your faith and your abilities.  More important, God sees and He will some day turn your masterpiece into eternal joy.  So, rub that peanut butter in (it does a wonderful job holding hair in place), put on those out of style clothes (that are probably stained with all sorts of bodily fluids - spit up, snot, diaper leaks, etc.) and hold your head up high.  You are the ones that we all want to be like!

1 comment:

Katie said...

beautiful. thanks.