Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Invisible Mom

A good friend forwarded this to me.  It's pretty powerful.  Too good not 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 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.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Sometimes I forget to blog about the everyday stuff.  I have to remember it doesn't have to be big, deep or flashy, just the daily happenings of our life.  So because we lived life today, I shall take a moment before heading up for a nice hot bath to tell whats been going on in the Cutlip household.


Lately we've reduced school to math and phonics workbooks for Livvy, Discovery Day for all the kids and random stuff for Sammy (and when I say "we", I really mean me, but it feels so much better to spread the blame around a bit).  This summer or next year we'll try to incorporate the other stuff one is supposed to be learning, but for now, I just don't feel like putting forth the effort to make it happen (there I said it, I took full responsibility...sigh).

The past couple of days have felt almost like spring and the kids have heard its call and have disappeared outside.  They head out sometime after chores have been done and breakfast has been eaten.  They disappear into the world of make-believe...where mud becomes delicious foods, and sticks and trucks become swords and escape vehicles.

Tuesday after they had been out there for at least an hour and I had done everything and anything that I thought I could or should get done, I was frankly getting a little bored.  I stood at the window watching them, debating what I should do next.  Should I call them in and do some sort of school, something productive?  Isn't that what a good mother would do?  Should I just let them continue playing?  They were playing so well together, it seemed a shame to interrupt.  Was I flat out being lazy or was I being wise in allowing the children some down time? 

I let myself have this mental debate for quite some time while I watched the kids and tried to follow their storyline.  I sat there until it was time to make lunch.  Off the hook about what the good mother would/should/could do, I set myself to the next task of making them lunch.


Today Tom got home a little early from work so he sat at the kitchen table and helped Livvy with some of her math problems.  Something wasn't exactly clear to Livvy and she started to fall apart (not quite, but it was coming).  Tom quickly told her to get herself together and not to waste water.  She looked at him and argued that she wasn't wasting water.  Tom explained that her body had other uses for water needed to make tears and she should conserve it.  She smiled a little and set herself back on the task.  I thought it was hilarious.


While Tom was working with Livvy, the boys were playing with their monster trucks and into their own little world.  Ben has finally reached that age where he can play along Sammy for short periods of time.  It's been so nice to see.  It usually ends with one or both or them are being foolish and hitting the other.  Hopefully they'll get over that soon.


On the baby front, I am 36 weeks and counting down.  I'm measuring small but continue to grow every week so we're not worried.  Everything is pretty much ready for this baby to enter the world.  I gathered all the things on the list from the midwife that she will need on delivery day and lined them along the wall of the master bedroom.  Now I just need to wait patiently, eat my fill of high fat, high caloric foods, and try to enjoy these last weeks of life with just three.  Bree, I need some Ho, Ho's!


Tom continues to work on the house.  He has a growing list of things that we'd like done before baby arrives.  Having everything 100% complete has been removed from that list and replaced with stuff like, "fix hot water in master sink", "install minivan door handle", and "get some type of clean flooring in the school room in case kids need a place to sleep so the mama can have privacy during labor and not worry about anybody listening in."

He's got all the drywall officially hung, patched, and cornered.  Next I think he's going to tackle the ceilings.  All the old popcorn stuff has to be scraped off so he can make it nice and smooth like the rest of the house.  It's coming along, slowly but surely.

Well, that's all I can think of for now.  Maybe I'll pass on the bath and head straight to bed.  Hmmm, but both sound so nice.