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The Invisible Woman


Today I'm thinking about my mom. She spent a lot of years building and serving and lifting. She poured love and time and energy into her children, in a never-ending pattern. She did a hundred things that we still haven't noticed. I wonder if there's a coming of age that happens for a young mom, when she begins to realize how much work it is to BE a mom. Then maybe about two dozen years into this parenting thing, she begins to see more stuff she missed. Then another realization comes when her oldest is almost grown. I'm still learning to see my mom and appreciate her as a person. But how can you see somebody who's been invisible?

This morning I was talking with a good friend, another mom like me. She's younger and in a different season of mothering, yet we both can relate to sometimes feeling lonely. Sometimes we need evidence of progress, or at least a friendly word from a girlfriend.

Maybe sometimes we just need somebody to notice and say thanks. Years ago I heard this short Ted Talk called The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson. I love her message so much! She talks about the great cathedrals of Europe and how they were built by anonymous workers. They sacrificed and built and went to work every day, knowing that their masterpiece was part of something greater. They knew that even when nobody else would notice their effort, God was watching and He could see.

Dallas Arboretum

Perhaps this feeling of invisibility is especially poignant as my two sons are older teenagers now. One is almost ready to leave the nest, and one is at the end of fall marching band season. The past few months have been exacting. My mama heart is full and happy as I watch these two young men. They make me so proud. My job with them is different than before. No more wiping away tears or patching jeans with holes in the knees; instead I support them in the background. 

My job includes taxiing back and forth to the high school, volunteering hours with other band moms, buying suits and shirts and luggage, arranging my schedule so that I'm available when they're around, waiting up until late so I can see them after work at Domino's or Costa Vida or the football game, waking up early to see them out the door in the morning. Sometimes I make myself take a short nap in the afternoon because the 1am arrivals and the 5:38am departures shave away a lot of nighttime sleeping. My job includes buying endless amounts of food and checking endless amounts of email.

My moments of joy with these two include cheering for them after welding certifications; cheering at 3rd place in the state band competition; going to the bank to deposit that first paycheck; going to church and being delighted by the best mini sermon. Other moments of joy are when my oldest helps younger sisters with math or reading, and I see a glimpse of greatness. These past few months have been a gift as I've watched each of my children grow and change. 

In her speech, Nicole Johnson said she felt as though God said, "I see you. You are not invisible to me. No sacrifice is too small for me to notice...But remember, you are building a great cathedral. It will not be finished in your lifetime..." As I've been typing these words, I'm realizing that I see evidence of myself in my two young men. And I've stepped back enough to see that there has been progress, growth and transformation. These two boys have been growing right before my eyes. I almost can't believe how much I love them. "At times my invisibility has felt like an affliction to me. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my own pride. It's okay that they don't see... I want my son to want to come home. And secondly, I want him to say to his friend, 'you're going to love it there.' It's okay that they don't see. We don't work for them. We work for Him (pointing to heaven). We sacrifice for Him. They will never see. Not if we do it right. Not if we do it well. Let's pray that our work will stand as a monument to an even greater God."

photo credit Rachel Lacy

Someday I'll write a blog post about my mom, but for today it's enough to say that I'm beginning to see her more clearly. I've been realizing how much she loves her family, her husband and kids and grandkids. She's been cheering for us all along. She's been working and serving us this whole time. So today I pay tribute to her, and to other moms who sometimes feel invisible. 

Dear Mom,
Happy birthday to you today! Thank you. Thank you for all of the things we don't see, for all of the good deeds that didn't get written down, for all of the songs and stories and games that never made the headlines. Thanks for teaching me to love, for teaching me to write and to say thanks, for teaching me to look around and notice people in need. Thanks for the unseen moments when you taught me to forgive, and to be kind. Thanks for waking up early and staying up late during those teenage years. Thanks for rubbing my back before bed, even when you were falling asleep. Thanks for driving and taxiing and volunteering your time so I could do cool stuff. Thanks for cheering for me at dance recitals and piano recitals, for sewing dresses and teaching me to sew too. For making dinners night after night after night, and then for teaching me to make dinner too. AND For all those trips to the grocery store so that we'd have food in our house. Thanks for being the director at Girls' camp, and for taking us to the beach. We did a lot of cool stuff because you wanted to see new places and teach us new things. Also, thanks for three million loads of laundry. 
With love,
Your daughter


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