Sunday, September 16, 2007

Invisible Moms by Nicole Johnson

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 am 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.

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,

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 banana 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

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 going to 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.


Petunia said...

I came over to say thanks for stopping by my place and find myself encouraged. Very timely! Thank you.

NCLighthouseKeeper said...

Hi! I came over from TOG Loose Threads. A friend sent me this post about a week ago and I forwarded it to several other friends as well. It is a powerful picture of what we do as parents, isn't it?

LisaWA said...

Me too! I was just waiting to make sure it was ok to post on my blog.... I dint want to post it if it was a copyright issue.

It hit home with me that’s for sure.... my kids are 18, 15 and 11. I get a bit burnt out driving them back and forth..... Lessons... house... etc, etc... This helps keep it all in perspective. *Ü*

Thanks for stopping by ladies! *Ü*


Sallie said...

I especially needed this right now.. thank you!

God bless,

Alane said...

Thanks. I needed to read that, too. Have a good week.
Alane, from the Dirt Pile