The Invisible Mom

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 sheʼs 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. 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. 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, ‘youʼre  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.


My dear friend, Sara, sent me this story.  I needed this reminder today and if you are a mom, you probably do too. I can never stress enough that the work of a mother is redeeming work.   And to my own mom,  I am so glad you saw your job as being “mom” as the redeeming work that it is.  You spent endless hours and sacrificed much to build your cathedrals – most of it going un-noticed in this distracted, busy world.  I hope you see in me, as I fight the fight of motherhood and build my 3 cathredals, the grace and love that you poured out in my life.  And I know you see it in your 3 precious grand-daughters too!

The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.  To my dear sisters…do it unto the Lord…God bless you  and be encouraged in what you are doing because it doesn’t go un-noticed.