Mother’s Day, part 2: The Invisible Mother

After I did the previous post, my sister-in-law sent me this. Just had to share.

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

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
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.

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know… I just did. And remember to COUNT all those zillions of “invisible” tasks you do each day.

Mother’s Day Movie Fun

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers!

Mother’s Day videos abound–to enjoy, personalized or not, and share. So I made one for you, my dear readers. I appreciate you all, moms and nonmoms, and hope you enjoy this selection. Pass it on!


If you want to make your own, check it out here. There are two more to choose, from one of the funniest shows on TV.

A perfect Mother’s Day–blah, meow, woof.

Unless you’ve been orbiting in the space shuttle or hiding in an Afghan cave this week, you’re aware that it’s a big week for moms. Media hype and advertising = skyrocketing expectations about the perfect way to honor mom this Mother’s Day. Blah, blah, blah. Just as with any holiday–or for that matter, any regular old run of the mill day–unrealistic expectations are the most powerful, direct route to disappointment. The more we expect, the more hopes can be dashed.

I remember the painful first year that I didn’t have a daughter at home on Mother’s Day. My husband tuned in to my angst and made plans (earning many husband points!) I’d always loved the fancy hotel Mother’s Day brunches, and he surprised me with brunch reservations. Given the holiday crowd, the hotel moved the event to the massive, dim, chandeliered ball room, away from the usual intimate, sunny garden cafe setting. There we sat at a tiny “two top” in the midst of lively parties of dozens of family members, from great grandmothers to infants– most clad in gay spring hats! Just our little 2 person table, awkwardly adrift in this sea of flowering families. Given my expectations for a great time, I was surprised at how bereft I felt.

What’s a mother to do?

1. Ask for what you want. We’d like to think that on this day, out of the whole year, our loved ones will just know what we want. But family members are simply human, and likely not psychic. And don’t be afraid to ask for them all to disappear for the day, if time alone is what you truly crave. Or here’s a fun list of truly invaluable gifts.

2. Stay in the moment, and recognize the love in the intent. Embrace whatever is offered in celebration.

Too often we’re like cats in our expectations: we demand it all. At least silently, in the solitude of our minds, we expect to be pampered, stroked, fed all earthly delights between lengthy, luxurious naps, as the world revolves around us. At least for one measly day a year.

Not that mothers don’t deserve it. Parenting is the hardest job we’ll ever do, and a cat’s life is what moms deserve. However, “deserve” and executed reality don’t always align, and then disappointment can rush in. Unless we meow, or maybe howl, really loudly, for what we want. Refer to #1 above!

However, a better way might be to live in the moment like dogs. To dogs, every day is the best day ever: “I chased a squirrel!!!!” “I smelled a rotten smell!!!!” “I got scratched behind the ears!!!” “I got to go for a walk!!” Most wondrous day ever!!! In the current issue, Psychology Today explains that those who are happier, and luckier, definitely adopt this canine attitude, embracing wonder in every twist and turn of life. Woof, woof!!

On <em>The Sanity Hour this week, guest Cheri Ruskus shared this poem written by her mother Jeannine Landreau. Cheri discovered the poem after her mother’s death last year.

Do not take this moment lightly for it is the most important moment of your life
It is all there is of the present. Live it to the fullest for it will never come again.
All that has gone before it is a memory and all that will come after it is only a hope or dream of future things.
It is more than the beginning of tomorrow and the end of yesterday.
Make it a great moment, it is your life right now and you will never live it again!

Rein in your expectations this Mother’s Day, ask for what you want, and hope for perfect moments, not a 110% perfect day. With canine expectations for every moment, every day, the joy of Mother’s Day might extend throughout the year.

Happy Mother’s Day.