Saturday, November 15, 2008

Invisible Mom

This is an excerpt from Nicole Johnson's novel The Invisible Woman (W Publishing Group, 2005) For more information, check out the author's Web site at

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." 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 Carol , 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. 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 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.


Thoughts from Diana: I can't tell you the times that I feel invisible, I felt invisible most of the day today. Pretty much everything I do goes unnoticed and unappreciated. I'm really only noticed for what I don't do... where's my clean pants? there aren't any clean spoons! BUT today Landon got back down off the fireplace (that was not running) when I asked him to- he's learning to obey. Gracie came and helped me clean up at Grandma's house- she's learning to do nice things for others. Emily read books every chance she got today- she's got my love for reading. Becca smiled when I changed her- that's pretty much all I need to feel good right there.

I know I'm making a difference. I can't see it right now for the most part, but the glimpses I get give me hope. I would rather be invisible and have my children grow up strong and good decision makers than to lose them in my shadow because I'm the only thing I think about. It's definitely the other way around most of the time and I'm working on not losing myself and doing things for myself that help me remember who I am and where I'm going.

I know that Heavenly Father watches out for me largely because of my children. He guides me to guide them and help them be who He sent them here to be. I especially could not be a good Mom to Becca without the subtle promptings I receive on her behalf. Same goes for Emily and Gracie and Landon!

Monday, November 03, 2008

10th Anniversary Present

Ladies and Gentlmen, let me introduce to you one of my favorite singers of all time...

Collin Raye!! From the second row!!!

Geoff took me to see Collin Raye at the Desert Star Theatre. It was amazing! I'm trying really hard to get past my speechlessness and find some words to describe this night for me, but I wanted to get some of it out while it is still so fresh. The first person I saw was a dear friend who just happens to work there! Bonus! I tried to describe the experience to her afterwards and could barely speak! We're in the 'Moms of kids with disabilities' club... we don't need mere words! ;)

If you've heard Collin Raye's songs you know he has a huge heart. Songs like "Love Me" and "I Think About You" (both of which he sang tonight!) have big meaning and a lot of emotion behind them. He also has fun songs like "That's My Story" and "That Kinda Girl" (he also sang those!) that aren't as heavy. He sang a cover song of the Beatles song "Here Comes the Sun (Little Darlin')" (I thought of you, Dad! ;) ) and the one written by Charlie Chaplin "Smile." He also sang "I Can Still Feel You" and I probably forgot a whole lot more! :)

Speaking of smiles, this guy has such an infectious smile!! I mean he's all teeth and happiness just radiates out of him! The man sitting next to us said he'd heard he's coming out with a Christian album, which doesn't surprise me at all. His faith in God comes out in so many of his songs. Faith, God and Country (as in the U.S.A. ;) ) are what so many country artists are all about. One of his songs was all about how Heavenly Father answers our prayers with what we need, not what we want... it's called "What I Need." :) iTunes has already been raided for that one!

There were a couple of songs that I didn't know that were from an album he called a 'collector's item.' Apparently, he was with Sony when he made it, but they disagreed about a lot of things and he was leaving Sony and was going to market the record through someone else. Well, Sony put it out anyway which means he didn't promote it since he wasn't with them anymore and he couldn't put it out the way he wanted to with is new company and Sony only put out a few of them. It had some really cool songs that I hadn't heard, so I think I may be surfing iTunes for those, too! ;)

A long time ago, in the early 90s, is probably when I fell in love with Collin Raye's music and when he was pretty much at a high point in his career. He did a video for his song "I Think About You" that was used by abused women organizations and things to earn money and stuff. In it, he talks about how when he sees women in crisis, etc. that he thinks about his little girl. At the time, his daughter was in the video with him when she was 8 years old... she was there tonight and sang a couple of songs with him... very cool! She's beautiful and has a very pretty voice.

If you've talked to me and let me ramble on about this famous man I've never met, you've heard me tell you that he has a granddaughter with disabilities. Tonight he said she has an undiagnosed neurologic disorder that basically took her away from them slowly. She was developing normally and then she just slowly started losing abilities, etc. She is 8 (I know, huh?!) and doesn't speak and uses a wheelchair, etc. He sang a song that he wrote for her and I of course cried all the way through it! I think it's called "She's With Me" and it will be on his new album. It starts off talking about how it is to take her in public and have people stare and he says "she's with me" and includes her in things anyway. He talks about how happy he is when "she's with me" and it ends with her being there to usher him through the gates of Heaven because "he's with me." My mother's heart sang right along with him and it was neat to hear words put to so many of the same emotions I feel.

It was an incredible night for me! This kind of music has always "spoken" to me and it was pretty amazing to be sitting only a few feet away and singing along and clapping and cheering. What an awesome 10th Anniversary present, Hubby! Thank you so, so much! I know, a thank you in a blog post... what could be better? I hope you know how much this meant to me and it was even better to be able to share it with you!