Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Invisible Mom?

About a month ago was Mother’s Day. Ugh. I really dread Mother’s Day, not because I don’t love being a mother; I really dislike it because it’s honestly a really disappointing day for me. I have a wonderful husband who has so many good qualities I can’t even list them all here, but ‘makes-a-big-deal-out-of-Mother’s-Day’ is not one of them. My five lovely children have inherited this from him as well. Don’t get me wrong, they all have good intentions, but this last Mother’s Day was fairly standard. I got up at the same time (early), made the same breakfast for everyone (cereal), got myself and the kids ready for church, and away we went with almost no fanfare. Dare I say, I’ve never had breakfast in bed in my life.

I was feeling pretty unappreciated this Mother’s Day. As the day continued on my dear husband made dinner (I had chosen a recipe in his skill level and purchased the requisite ingredients the day before), and I opened a cute homemade keychain that my Nathan had made in school. It was my only gift that day. No card, no flowers, no breakfast in bed. I seethed a little as I saw a few women in church wearing a fresh corsage, read more than one flowery description of Mother’s Day breakfast on Facebook, and viewed friends sporting a new handbag or blouse. I knew that we didn’t have lots of disposable income for fancy gifts, and that’s not really what I wanted or expected. I just would have liked someone, anyone, to put pen to paper and just say ‘thanks, mom.’ Is that really so much to ask?

When I think back to Mother’s Day when I was a kid, my mom had similar requests. Usually her big one was “Please don’t fight all day.” We typically tried for a few hours, then by the time breakfast in bed was over, we were back to our old antics. All in all, it was another disappointing Mother’s Day. I went to bed feeling completely invisible.

Oddly enough, a couple of days later my sister brought over a book for me to deliver to my own mother on an upcoming visit to my parents’ house. It was called “The Invisible Woman” and it was written by Nicole Johnson, a Christian writer for women. My sister has a copy of this book that she lent me a couple of months back but after I got a few pages in I was so depressed by it that I stopped. Now, already feeling a bit depressed and wanting to marinate in it a little, I picked it up and began to read.

It follows a woman, Charlotte, who has 2 sons and a husband and feels like she’s completely invisible.  A friend gives her a book about the great cathedrals of Europe and, at first, Charlotte can’t see why her friend would think that this book was applicable to her, but as she reads she discovers the meaning. When men were building the great cathedrals, they did their absolute best work, they carved intricate patterns and statues in places that were never going to be visible to anyone in the cathedral, or anyone outside either. When asked why they were expending so much energy on things no one would ever see, the response was “But God will see.
Now, the woman in the book really needed to teach her kids a thing or two on gratitude and how to say thank-you, for sure. But the point really hit home for me. Do I need thanks, and cards, and flowers, and breakfast in bed one Sunday in May to make me feel appreciated? Do I need all the effusive flattery and thanks to motivate me to do my very best with my children and husband each day? Sometimes, yes J but that is my ‘natural man’ (or woman) peeking through. I didn’t have children so I could parade my family around for the adoration, I had children to serve and grow and build an eternal unit with my husband.

So, since I finished the book, I’ve kept those themes in mind. Rather than expecting thanks and praise, I am trying to remember that everything I do to serve and love my family is a prayer to my Heavenly Father. Every pb & j I make, every nose I wipe, and meal I prepare, and crumb I wipe up; every article of clothing I wash, skinned knee I bandage, and shoe I tie is something I’m doing not for recognition, but for love. As a thanks to my Heavenly Father for the gift and privilege of being a mother and of having these precious souls in my life.