stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

This is Sarah’s first Mother’s Day as a stay at home mom. Some people would correct me for saying that, because the PC term is “homemaker.” At some point, “stay at home mom” became a degrading term. Who makes these decisions? I’m sure it wasn’t a stay at home mom, because they aren’t usually self seeking people that need to be legitimized with some new term that’s supposed to give them worth. Sarah has worth in who she is, not a made up title. She is a stay at home mom, which is the greatest title one can hold – except for all the sweet titles that Jesus holds. The title, to me, means that this mom has chosen to give up things she could have – better cars, bigger houses, newer clothes – if she worked outside of her home in exchange for her child’s well being. I’ll tell you what term I find insulting: working mom. To imply that a mom that stays home with her child doesn’t work is ridiculous. Sarah’s usually more tired when I get home from work than I am, which is probably a good indicator that she’s been working nonstop sine I left. She just doesn’t get paycheck for what she does. I love her. She’s a great wife, and she happens to be a great mom, as well. Jakob and I are lucky to have her.

My mom was a stay at home mom, too. She left her job at the bank when my oldest brother, Steve, was born. She spent the next 30 years working hard as a mom. Sarah’s mom retired from the public schools when Sarah came and took on the full time job as a mom for Sarah and her siblings. We often talk about how we were both blessed to have moms at home with us, although we probably didn’t say it much when we were younger. We probably took that for granted back then, but we both do appreciate the sacrifice our parents made for us. What they did drives us to make the same sacrifice for Jakob. I know I don’t regret a single thing I didn’t get growing up. I don’t regret wearing hand-me-downs, bobo shoes, or getting a free buzz cut from my dad when I needed a haircut. It bothered me some back then, but it doesn’t matter now. Would my life be any more enriched for having had a Power Wheel as a child? I doubt it. My life is so much better for having had my mom, though.

::Before you comment, you should know that I’m not putting down moms that work outside the home. I understand that not everyone is in a position to stay at home. So if you leave a comment defending moms that work outside the home, I will reject your comment, because they do not need defending. No one insulted them::

I’m sure being a mom is a thankless job at times, but it shouldn’t be. I was sent the following story by Brenda, and I immediately knew I wanted to post it here on Mother’s Day, because I have an inordinate number of moms that read my blog. I don’t know how that happened, but Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. This is for you, Sarah, Mom, Mom, Grandma, Lisa, Katey, Jenny, (insert your name here if you’re a mom. If you’re not, then don’t. Seriously, don’t.), etc.

Invisible Mother…..

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 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 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 Charlotte, 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 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 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 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 him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his 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.


Now, for some of you, this post is hard to take. I was pretty serious the whole time. This part’s for you, though. I want you to treat your mother right. So does Mr. T, foo’!


Comments on: "Let’s hear it for the Moms" (3)

  1. Jeff that was beautiful. Than you so much for sharing it!

    Congratulations to Sarah on getting to stay home and take care of little Jakob full time. I was blessed enough to stay home with both my girls until they started school. I wouldn’t trade that for a million paychecks 🙂

    • Thanks, Marni! I’m sure Sarah wouldn’t, either. She would trade our bills for a million paychecks, but not staying with Jakob.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Selph. Jeff Selph said: Let's hear it for the Moms: […]

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