2.18.2011

The Invisible Mother

I really loath forwarded emails. Really. Utterly. Loath.

But.

My mom sent this forwarded email to me today and I couldn't help but share it with all you Invisible Mothers out there. Yes...YOU!

And you!

Oh and you too...Yea, you. The one sporting the messy ponytail and "furry" teeth with macaroni and cheese residue smeared on your sleeve, baby barf on the other, and not a stitch of makeup on. YOU!

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.'

Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock?, Where's my phone?, What's for dinner?'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music, and literature - 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. She 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 she 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: '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:

1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend 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. 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, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand 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.'

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 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built 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, he'd say, '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 mothers.

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know... I just did.
The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.
To all the wonderful mothers out there!! God bless and keep you.

11 comments:

Sami said...

I needed this reminder today, Evelyn. How do you ALWAYS know?

Jeigh said...

I love love love this email. The only one I've ever forwarded.

MiMi said...

This is how I feel this week. UGH.

Myya said...

This is perfect, PERFECT! Just exactly what I needed lately. But ahhh dang it I just put my makeup on & now my eyes are all watery. Thank you for just knowing that this is what so many others of us needed!

Patty Ann said...

This is wonderful!! And I completely agree. I want them to WANT to come home.

Bethany @ Organic Enchilada said...

"...but you can't see right now what it will become."

That's my favorite part. I love that!

Sarahie said...

Thanks. I have never read that before and really, really needed it today.

A Joyful Chaos said...

Forwarded emails are a royal pain but I can see why you liked this one.

Thanks for sharing it.

Candice said...

I remember seeing this forwarded email and yes, it is so true.

Candice said...

I remember seeing this forwarded email and yes, it is so true.

{leah} said...

I feel like this ever so often.


I have been thinking about you. I hope all is well, and just so you know... you are not invisible to me!

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