Invisibility

My friend Mackenzie and I decided to take the kiddos to a cool park a couple of days ago. It's kind of state-parkish, wide-open spaces, trails, playground, and one of those covered areas for parties and such. We picked up dinner and sat down on a blanket next to the play area so Miles and Olivia could play while the babies "chilled" with us. There was a wood tick. And diarrhea. But I won't get into that.

There was some kind of gathering of important looking people in the shelter nearby. Three of the business men from the party (dressed in casual, but still very obviously VIP), came over and stood right next to the blanket to discuss co-workers, talk on their phones, and refer to "cases." It was all very serious.

Every once and awhile Mackenzie and I would look at each other and give a knowing stare, like "why in the world do they have to stand RIGHT next to us, this is weird..." It's a really big place. We were even the only people in the playground area, yet they stood right next to us? The sidewalk is even big. So I don't really know why they had to stand over us. But they did, so we talked quietly and tried to pretend it wasn't totally odd.

Finally we just started talking about the weirdness openly, not quietly. We'd given each other enough "looks," rolling our eyes and trying to wait patiently for the guys to end the gossip and get back to the people they were talking about. And then it hit me. And so I said it out loud.

"We are such a stereotype right now."

We were frumpy-looking, tired, weary and grumpy stay-at-home-moms. At least that's what we were to these men who considered us invisible, not respecting our time or space. It wasn't a good feeling to realize that. And to know I'm probably not just jumping to conclusions. It could be that they were just in their own world, unaware of us. But if you were there, you would know along with us that we were simply invisible. Despite our calls of "be careful!" to Miles and Liv. Despite our children's laughter and our own really funny jokes. To these men, we were not there.

These are the moments that get me thinking a lot about my current role and identity. These are the moments when I remember why I named this blog "The Extraordinary Ordinary." Because any mom at any park is a whole lot more than what she appears to be. She carries a history of life and love, mistakes and joys, experiences and memories. They are hers, and they make her the mom that she is blessed enough to have become. She's funny and wise. Her heart is full to the brim with the love of her family. She is quirky and attractive in her very own way. She is mom and wife and sister, friend, daughter... She falls asleep with dreams of her previous, current and future lives, just as anyone does. She may not get the recognition she deserves, but she doesn't really have to care because what she does is more meaningful than anything she could receive an award for. As thankless as it may sometimes be, and with the fear that the sacrifices may never be noticed, she moves through her days, giving more of herself than she ever thought possible. And under all the fatigue and fears, she is loving this chance to be mom.

Invisible as I may sometimes be to the world, I am tangible proof to my kids that unconditional love exists. That's a whole lot better than recognition from the VIPs

6 comments:

  1. This hit a chord with me, Heather. I don't feel invisible so much, but I do feel unappreciated lately. I just need some ENCOURAGEMENT.

    What a wonderful reminder that we are doing the most important job in the world, even if business people or our children don't see it.

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  2. As a mom of 4 kids, 5 and under, I often feel like invisibility is something I wish I wasn't. I have learned to remind myself daily that I matter, for many of the same reasons you stated. Thanks for shedding a little light on the hard work we do everyday!

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  3. Cathedrals from the book "The Invisible Woman" by Nicole Johnson:

    Moms, remember we are all making a difference... For those children here with us, our building is still in progress. For those already with the Lord, our task is complete.

    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. Janice had just got 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 Janice 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 Carol , 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 whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. 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 your 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 daughter 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.

    "She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."- Genesis 16:13

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  4. Okay, anonymous, whoever you are, that verse from Genesis is going to be placed on my bathroom mirror so that I can DAILY be reminded that no matter how invisible I feel God sees me. Beautiful!

    We are a part of the most amazing journey!

    I am thankful to walk along this road with you all.

    Blessings, Mamas!

    Ali

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  5. Motherhood really is invisibility, on so many levels. I totally agree, it is the ordinary extraordinary. It's good to be reminded of the importance of what we do.

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  6. I love this little book
    "The Invisible Woman" by Nicole Johnson. My dear freind gave it to me for my b-day 3 years ago when it was my first b-day as a mama. It hit a chord in me. I have lent it out to other moms and they loved it too. When the going gets tough I think of it often.

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