Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

The following was read at our Mother/Daughter Banquet. I thought is was very thought provoking and even "stepped on my toes".
The Invisible Mom

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 answer, 'What time is it? I'm a TV guide to answer, 'What channel is the Clifford on? I'm a taxi, 'Take me to Susie’s 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 summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, and she’s 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. But 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. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one knows who the workers were that 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. The workman replied, 'Because God sees it.'
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 button you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building great cathedrals. Right now, you can't see how wonderful they will be in the end.

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. If I keep the right perspective, 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. Someone that no one notices, except God.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. So few people willing to remain nameless; to labor, unrecognized by others.

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. 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 be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the lives our children touched. They will then teach their children who will touch even more lives. So the building will go on as long as someone is willing to make the sacrifices needed. As long as someone is willing to give of themselves, to remain unnamed and unnoticed by all but God. Are you willing to make the sacrifices needed?
Thanks to all the wonderful mothers out there who have touched my life in so many ways:
My mom who is one of my dearest friends and all the others who have offered encouragement and been a good example to me.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I know I've read this somewhere on the internet before, but I can't remember where. And yeah, it struck a chord with me too.