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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 fuelled 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



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.



Original author: Nicole Johnson

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