The Invisible Mother

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The other evening my sister texted a link to a post/article at Just Between Us. I'm not familiar with the website but was intrigued by the title The Invisible Mother, so I pulled it up on my phone to read.

You know when you see or read something and it happens to be exactly what you needed to hear at that particular moment? This article. It was what I needed to hear at that particular moment (and frequently since then..).

(I know this is a wordy post, but I think it's totally worth the read..)

by Nicole Johnson

   One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, “Who is that with you, young fella?”
   “Nobody,” he shrugged.
   Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only five, but as we crossed the street I thought, “Oh my goodness, I’m nobody?”
   As Nobody, I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family, like “Turn the TV down, please.” And nothing would happen. No one would get up or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, “Would someone turn the TV down?” Nothing.
   That’s when I started putting all the pieces together. I don’t think anyone can see me.
   I’m invisible.
   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’d think, “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. No one can see me, because I’m 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 merely a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I'm a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?”
   Some days I’m a crystal ball: “Where's my other sock? Where's my phone? What’s for dinner?”
Hands, a clock, a crystal ball—but always invisible.
   One night, some girlfriends and I were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and was telling wonderful stories. I sat there, looking around at the others all so put-together, so visible and vibrant. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic when my friend 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 read—no—I devoured the book. And I discovered what would become for me, four life-changing truths:
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.

   In the book, there was the legend of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built. He saw a worker 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 worker replied, “Because God sees.”
   After reading that, 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 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. But I see.”
   When I choose to view myself as a great builder—instead of Invisible Mom—I keep the right perspective.
   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 four 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 monument to myself! But I don’t want that—I just want him to want to come home with a friend and share a wonderful meal as a family. 
   The author 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. I disagree.
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right—which is why we may feel invisible some days. But 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.
I wanted to share because I can't imagine I'm the only one that needed to hear this. Not because my (or your) husband/family doesn't show their appreciation enough, but because I think we all need little reminders of encouragement and support. It's easy to slip into little pity parties for ourselves, have a rough day/week, or just feel like things aren't going our way.. It's ok. We're each doing what we believe to be best for our situation/family. And we, YOU - are doing a great job. 
There are so many great and wonderful points in the article, but read the last part again, in particular:
'As mothers, we are building great cathedrals.
We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right—which is why we may feel invisible some days.
But 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.'
So, be invisible.
..One day, it is very possible, that the world will marvel..


  1. What a wonderful article!!! Thank you for sharing. And oddly enough, this is perfect timing. I was at work all day all week last week. Then this weekend, we ran errands, went to the zoo, and I had to make sure everything was ready for Mason's preschool on Tuesday. I had to work Monday since it wasn't a holiday for me and I asked Seth to do one thing while I was gone and he didn't. I was frustrated. I went grocery shopping, I got everything ready. I felt like I did it all. And Mason had the BEST day yesterday. Was my frustration worth it, yes. Mason may not be able to tell me thank you or really understand all the things I do (and Seth does) for him, but one day, he will. This is a great reminder and a great way to think about it!

    1. I thought it was too good not to share. I absolutely see where you are coming from as I have days/weeks JUST like that. Sometimes it's all about keeping it in perspective, which I know is sometimes easier said than done. I thought the point of this article was such a good reminder for us as mothers, especially. Hang in there!! :)

  2. That's awesome! So many times now that my husband is gone and I'm waiting to join him I feel like my feelings fall under way when I'm so wrapped up in taking care of Brynn and supporting him from afar.

    1. Oh, I'm sure 'single-parenting' is exhausting!! I know when my husband is gone for a week work-trip it's hard enough, so good for you in being such a strong wife/momma for your family!! I'm excited for you guys to be back together soon. Don't forget to pat yourself on the back every once in a while, you're doing a GREAT job!! :)

  3. oh that was beautiful! I got a little teary. It was spot on. It reminded me of that saying or are noticed when you stop doing what you've been doing. I'm sure this will be tucked away, thank you!