Yesterday was the absolute most horrible “mommy” day I have had in a very long time. It seems like ever since summer vacation started my children have been morphed into something out of a Stephen King novel. Before we even had kids my husband and I agreed that if nothing else, we would have disciplined, respectful children…and for the past 13 1/2 years we have busted our butts to do just that. Yesterday it all went down hill. I had just had it with the ungratefulness, this sense of entitlement, and the fighting. Enough was enough! So after I posted my thoughts on Facebook (because I wanted my girlfriend’s input on the situation) I lined my children up in their “Sound of Music” fashion and gave them a good talking to. You know, the kind our moms did with either a belt or a wooden spoon in hand? Well, this time no weapons were involved BUT I did use some strong language that had a few of them in tears…words like “disappointed” and “ungrateful” really seem to do the trick with my kids. After my rant they went off into their toy-filled rooms to “think about what I just said” for 30 minutes. I showed them, right?
Fast forward to evening football practice. I’m sitting in the bleachers reading my book and watching my son practice and in front of me is the most annoying little 6 year old girl I have ever seen in my entire life. She is throwing a football around with a friend and her dad was joking around with her. She looks at her father and says something like “Shut your mouth and zip your lips!” Oh wow. I thought for sure she was done-for. Nope. Dad just threw his head back and laughed. “She’s high energy!” he assures us moms in the bleachers. High energy? I call that disrespectful. But it didn’t stop there. The next comment was “I told you to be quiet!” followed by “I want a cell phone too and YOU’RE gonna buy me one!” This drama continued for the entire 2 1/2 hour practice and all I could think of was how grateful I was to have my 7 entitled, ungrateful children at home because no matter how frustrating they might be at times I can honestly say they have never spoken to me in this way. And they never will. Deep down they don’t mean to be bad, they just are sometimes and those are learning experiences for both of us. I correct them and they walk away and hopefully learn a little bit each time. It’s called parenting and no it’s not easy but it is definitely the most rewarding thing I have done with my life up to this point.
So as I’m sitting down to finally relax with my husband after a long, frustrating day, I check my e-mail and there sits a message from a dear friend of mine. She has 3 children of her own and many times we have sat and laughed over the things our kids have done…mostly our two sons! Emily is one of those friends who just seems to know exactly what a person needs and the exact time they need it. She sent me the following poem…and I cried my eyes out as I read it. This poem will be printed and framed and placed strategically all over my house as a reminder that the best kind of mother isn’t the mother with perfect kids…the best kind of mother is an 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 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.’
Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -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 . She 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 she 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: ‘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: 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 story of legend 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. 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, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand 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.
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 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘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, 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 mothers.
Thank you to all the Moms who are looking down and smiling at the cathedrals they helped to build.
Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know.
The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.
To all the wonderful mothers out there!! God bless and keep you.