Blue Suit Mom

Invisible Mom

I love this story about the work of mothers everywhere, much of which goes unseen. For Mother’s Day, it’s the time to (hopefully) get pampered, relax and enjoy a special day just for you. But for the other 364 days of the year, never lose sight of the importance of your job.

Enjoy, and Happy Mother’s Day – Maria

It all makes sense. The blank stares, the lack of response, the way kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask me some ridiculous question or put in some crazy request to be taken to the store. “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. No one can see me at all.

I’m invisible. The Invisible Mom. I am a pair of hands…nothing more. “Can you fix this?” “Can you tie this?” “Can you open this?” 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 taxi service: “Right around 5:30, please.” An information service: “What is so and so’s number?” A dictionary: “How do you spell…..?” Never even looking at me! Never noticing that I’m in the middle of a sentence, a word I’m typing, a deep thought, even a tear on occasion. No one sees…I’m completely invisible.

I’m certain that I used to be seen. These hands once held books, these eyes read and studied, this mind had learned and excelled! This mouth once spoke truth and wisdom. I was heard and seen! I know I was! Now I had somehow disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. I felt myself….going, going, gone!

One night, a group of girls I hadn’t seen in forever invited me out to dinner to celebrate a friend’s return from England. Janice had just gotten back from a long stay, and she was going on and on about how wonderful it all was. I was sitting there, looking around at all 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.” (Wow! Surprise!) It was a book on the Great Cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me. Then, 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. I would discover what would become for me, some 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 builds 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 in a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it?” 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 cathedral builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they know will never be finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far 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 kids to tell their friends, “For Thanksgiving, my Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, hand bastes a turkey for three hours, then presses linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want them to want to come home. And be able to say to their friends, “You’re gonna love it!”

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We’ll barely be seen if we’re doing it right. But 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 everywhere.

Great job, Moms!”

PS – I received a copy of this story at a Mother’s Day tea many years ago, with no author’s name or attribute.

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