Thursday, March 6, 2008

Invisible Moms

I was sitting at my computer, looking for a newly updated blog on my blog roll, or hoping for a blog comment in my email inbox, when I got this wonderful email from a friend.

Although I can't complain about how my day is going, the pain I've been having in my lower back has been to such a high degree that I've found myself nearly in tears a couple of times this afternoon. I don't want to moan about my aches and pains (I'd much rather whine about the weather), but it's so difficult being a mom and keeping up with shoes and toys on the floor when one's back hurts so much. Even when I'm sitting I don't find much relief. Anyway, enough whining. I'm so thankful that I got a chiropractic appointment for this evening, and I'm hoping that will provide some relief.

This email was such an encouragement to me (I started crying and thanking God for sending me just the perspective I needed), and I hope you find it so, too! Even if you're not a mom, I'm sure you do many things that are invisible to others!

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, 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 dresses 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.

Great Job, MOM!

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know.

... I just did

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