The Invisible Mother

I read this today and it must have hit a nerve because I wept. I will admit that things have been pretty rough for me lately. As a mom, I have felt extremely challenged, overwhelmed, burnt out and exhausted by the magnitude of it all. Since this helped to put things back in perspective for me, I’d like to share it with you.

P.S.

Thank you mom…

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the
way my child will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask me a question.

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 sum a cum laude –
but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen
again. She’s going; she’s going; she is 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 My Friend, 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. 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.

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7 comments

  1. corndoggirl · June 27, 2009

    Wow! This is awesome! So true!

  2. Beth · March 23, 2009

    Thank you for the read, Jessica! That was great.

    I’m sorry you are feeling overwhelmed. For me, 2 kids was a HUGE adjustment. I could do 1 with my hands tied behind my back —- but 2 was monumental.

    But alas – as all things do – we settled in. I hope you find your “settled in” soon.

  3. Melissa from Pittsburgh · March 19, 2009

    Lovely.

    I need to remember this – there are some days that are overwhelming – all mothers go through this I know.

    every dish is dirty
    every thing is dusty
    every person is hungry
    laundry piled up to the ceiling
    dog hair is everywhere – the husky is shedding

    I run around like a fiend … but is only better for a little while and we are right back to where we started.

  4. amie · March 18, 2009

    The video was played for me at my baby shower and it made me cry too. it’s so beautiful and so true. Thanks for the reminder :)

  5. Tonya Root · March 18, 2009

    Thanks so much for that message! It brought tears to my eyes and I already know of a couple of moms that I want to share the message with. The last several months have been a struggle for me. I’ve always wanted to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom, but after having spent almost 10 years out in the work force, I never realized what a huge difference it would be and how “insignificant” one can feel at times. It’s so wonderful to remember that the work I do now is so much more important than anything I ever did before that made me feel “important.” Thanks so much!!!

  6. Andrea · March 18, 2009

    Wow that was so good! Motherhood definitely gives us that opportunity to serve and love the way our Savior has for us even though we know his love is so much greater. It just really puts it in perspective of how important Motherhood is. Thanks Jessica, that really was a great message!

  7. Ang · March 18, 2009

    Jessica, thanks so much for this! I really needed it today. There are days when it gets so hard, when you feel like you don’t “do” anything or “talk to a grown up” we all need to remember what we ARE doing and what the job is that we signed up for.

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