Monday, February 4, 2008

I'm Invisible

I'm Invisible

-It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids walks 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 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 summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. "She's going, she's going, 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 as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. 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, 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.

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. Then, if there is anything to say to his friend, it could be, "You're gonna love it here!"

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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I got this off my birth board and I thought is was sweet. It gives me perspective which I'm always needing.

5 comments:

John said...

Wow! That was AWESOME!

Stephanie said...

Wow!!!! It really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Thomas Family said...

I love that. So true.

The Larsons said...

I had a really hard day with the kids today. This story made my day. Thanks! What a birth board?

Kirsten said...

On babycenter.com they have birth boards that are bulletin boards for women whose babies are due during the same month. So I'm part of the March 2007 birth board because that's when Gage was due. You can talk with and get advice from mom's who are in the same stage of development as you. Here's the one I go to. They have one for every month going back many years.

http://boards.babycenter.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?listMode=-1&nav=messages&webtag=bcus1174