Ward House

The invisible mother

I know, I know; feast or famine eh?  A friend sent this to me. . .

The Power of the Invisible Mother……
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 that I’m on the phone, or cooking, or vacuuming 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, ‘Can you pick me up at 5:30?’

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 w as sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to national_cathedralcompare 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, 4 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 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 about. You are buildin g 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 daughter to tell the  friend she’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 her to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to her friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot see 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.

Great Job, MOM!

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January 28, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

4 Comments »

  1. I got tears in my eyes from reading this. Good stuff. 🙂

    Comment by Crystal | January 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. Makes me think of a quote my husband sent me a while back:

    The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any Cathedral-a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body…The angels have not been blessed with such a grace.
    -Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty

    Comment by Jill | February 3, 2009 | Reply

    • Another excellent quote. I am going to save this for the next baby shower I go to – include it with the card. =) Thanks Jill!

      Comment by Annette | February 3, 2009 | Reply

  3. Oh, Annette, I SO needed to read this post just now…so very glad I did! For some reason I’m blubbing like a baby. Thank you for posting this…it’s the medicine I needed just now 🙂

    Comment by Robbyn | February 10, 2009 | Reply


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