This is one of those emails with an invisible author to credit, but worth passing on.
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?’
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
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
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
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 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!