Saturday, August 16, 2008

Invisible Moms

I found the story below on a friend's blog. It reminded me so much of so many things; but since this particular blog is about our struggle with diabetes I will focus there for a minute. As moms of children with a chronic illness it can sometimes feel as if we have ceased to exist for any other purpose than the continuing life sustaining tasks we are now charged with. I want to make it clear that in no way do I feel sorry for myself or think, even for a second, that my battle with this disease is anywhere close to the battle Nikki (and everyone else who has it) is faced with.

My battle is different: if I could give Nikki my pancreas I would do it NOW; if I could somehow take on all the finger pokes and site pokes, the highs, the lows, the sick days, and, well you get the idea, I would. I think my struggle comes from one that all parents face; it's just that parents with chronically ill children have to actually look this struggle straight in the eye every day AND acknowledge it -- that struggle is this: I have no actual control over some things, no matter how hard I try and no matter how hard I try I cannot spare my children from every trial they will face. However, the knowledge that all my love, concern, support and sometimes even tears are helping to build a beautiful person far outweighs any moments of invisibility I may find myself in. May I always remember that as much as I love my children, God loves them even more - what more can I ask for.

I love the beauty of the following story and the power of the lesson behind it. The original names in the story have been deleted for privacy purposes and the author is anonymous.

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'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 .. My friend 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 this 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: 'To My Friend , 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 whisperingto 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, 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 child 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.


ishaq said...

As a mom of a 16 year old who is now driving, I can tell you that I am having a really hard time "letting go, and letting God"....Yes, I'm glad
he's growing up but, No one said it would be this hard...
As my kids, {I also have a beautiful 13 year old...} grow I realize more and more that God is really in control I am just a passenger in the "car." That they are his, they will always be his,
and I just have to kinda be there...
I can only say that as a friend and as a Christian I understand only that being invisible is really, really hard. I once read
an article that said...are you a crazy must be an alien to
be successful...I really started to think about that, and realized you know it's true...after a while they
are not little and all grown up, and I wont be here to help them least not 2-3 inches from them...they may be away at college or out on the streets etc.
I have to each day remind myself that I have been upducted and am
invisible to screaming in the car
and all of that, I have to rely on
what they already mom keeps telling me ....Pamela, you have to let go....and, with tears,
I am happy they are able to do all the things they should without me, but, inside I still it's hard....but, as this said....soon right before our eyes....they are all grown up and a beautiful building that we knew they would be all along.