Friday, August 24, 2007

Like God is Speaking to Me

The last two days I've felt a little bummed about mommyhood, as you can easily tell from my previous post.

And then tonight, I had a God Wink. Sitting down to the computer 30 minutes after I normally go to bed (I was waiting for cookies to cool that I had baked for my brother and his wife to celebrate their new home, which we will drive two hours tomorrow to visit for the first time, so I could put them away and not worry about them sticking together.), I logged on to Diabetic Mommy, aka the site I can't live without.

I nearly cried when I read this. It was like God was coming through my computer, sitting down next to me and saying "We all have days like this." Illustrating this point even more is that in the world of e-mail forwards, I can't ever remember reading this.

Perspective: The Invisible Woman
By Nicole Johnson

It started to happen gradually. One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, "Who is that with you, young fella?" "Nobody," he shrugged. "Nobody?" The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"

I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family—like "Turn the TV down, please"—and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are." He just kept right on talking.

That's when I started to put all the pieces together. I don't think he can see me. I don't think anyone can see me. I'm invisible.

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.

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 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 banana 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 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.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Confessions of a Mommy

More days than I can actually remember--but enough, obviously for me to take note--I feel like Goldie Hawn in Overboard staring off into space and chanting buh-buh-buh-buh.

My children simultaneously suck the life out of me and overwhelm me with thoughts of how I ever lived without them.

In an effort to add humor to situations so I don't literally explode, I have coined the phrase "If you don't stop, my head will explode and then there will be Mommy brains all over the wall and you'll have to clean it up." That usually gets a smile out of someone.

Many nights I'm so mentally exhausted after putting the kids to bed that I can barely think clearly enough to do the laundry. This has put a serious dent in my writing and photography aspirations. Recently looking back at some of the writing I accomplished in college, I actually surprised myself at how good I was and then wondered where that writer went.

I have a difficult time choosing which of the millions of projects I should undertake in the roughly 90 minutes I have "to myself" after the kids go to bed that I often sit on the couch chanting buh-buh-buh-buh. And then I decide to go to bed early because I'm too overwhelmed to do anything else.

I hate that I get short with my children because of my mental exhaustion.

I hate that I raise my voice.

I hate that I feel like I've ruined my children with my often short temper.

I hate that this seems like I'm blaming my children for my own shortcomings. I'm not.

I hate that I often don't have the mental energy to read books and say prayers with them before bed.

I hate that I feel like I'm a bad mommy because of all of this.

Sometimes I think I was put on this earth just to be their mommy; to shape and mold these three incredible people into more than I ever was or will be. That my struggles are actually making them into solid, strong people who will be positive contributors to our society.

I remember that I am a good mommy when one of the kids comes out of nowhere and says "Mom?" (Yeah, sweetie.) "I love you."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Aug. 14—The 14-thing walking meme

  1. I have walked 10 of the last 14 days.
  2. I have so far reached my goal of walking five times a week.
  3. Walking has dramtically decreased my blood sugar levels.
  4. I have gained and lost the same 4 lb. in the last 14 days.
  5. There’s a swing in my swagger.
  6. My clothes fit better even though I technically haven’t lost any weight.
  7. My mom complimented how I looked even though I was on a gaining trend.
  8. I feel better all day when I walk.
  9. I do tend to hit a spot some time in the day when I have to fight very hard to keep my eyes open, but I really don’t think it’s because I’m getting up 30 minutes earlier than I was last month.
  10. I’ve realized I don’t have to get up so early to get my walk in and still get to work on time.
  11. I still haven’t taken the mp3 player with me that I bought for my birthday in February with the intentioin of taking it with me on walks.
  12. The dog jumps on my back when I come outside with the leash.
  13. The kids continue to ask me why I go for a walk every day and I continue to tell them “Because it keeps me healthy.”
  14. My body loves the attention I’m giving it.