through my window

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It is a sunny Sunday afternoon and I am doing the dishes. I see my 2 year old (in her nightgown that she has changed herself into after church, clutching her baby doll) outside with my 10 year old son, taking her by the hand and leading her along, pausing in patience to show her all the wonders we tend to over look as we grow up. My heart is suddenly filled with hope....

I wonder more than my share if my children will be okay. I worry that I cannot give them what I would be able to give them if I wasn't so divided. I feel badly some days that they get such a tattered and tired mom. Then I see the tenderness so freely given from a boy of 10 to a girl of 2, and it is cemented in my heart that this family is a gift, not a burden, to all involved. How else would these attributes be developed. My children will have to make more sacrifices than some, whether it be time with mom and dad, not being able to take each and every extra-curricular activity they would like, or not having a room of their own. They will have to learn to share, how to resolve conflict, how to cope with stress and noise and people who are of a very different personality. Their patience, as well as mine, will be tested, but their charity will expand. There are lessons they will only learn from being a part of a family. There are gifts and talents to be gained and developed through life with so many siblings. Where I lack they begin and they will give to each other a special kind of love that will fill in all the empty spaces I cannot fill to overflowing. And everything will be okay.

At the end of more days than not I feel that I have accomplished nothing. I somehow dismiss all the hours I didn't have time to sit down. When will changing a diaper, bathing a baby, reading a story, wiping a tear, or doing the laundry be enough to qualify as "something". These things that seem so mundane are the things a family is built on.

I do not have more burdens than you, neither do I have less. I am not more or less abundantly blessed. We must stop comparing ourselves and our families to an impossible picture of perfection. We all have weaknesses, not 1 of us is perfect, no matter how it may appear from the outside. We all have trials. This post could be about anything. You may not have 5 kids, and feel like you don't relate. This is not about having 5 children - this is about a personal struggle I have of feelings of inadequacy that is brought about by my fear that I cannot give enough to so many children. I do not regret this choice, not ever, but I do wonder if I am up for the task. This may not be your trial, but you will have your share, and we need to somehow come to the understanding that this is the process through which we grow and learn and become more like our Savior Jesus Christ. On days I don't make it into the shower, on days that I hope no one comes knocking at the door, on days that I feel like I simply don't have it in me, I am shown a way. I am lovingly brought back by very small and simple means to a remembrance that no matter what my trials - I am blessed.

Next time I feel like I didn't get anything done, I will look around at my children and try not to focus on the fight, but the resolution and the lesson that comes with that, not at the dirty dishes but the fact that I had food to feed my family. I will not dismiss the story reading or the diaper changing or the laundry folding as nothing of worth, but as the means by which a family is raised. Everyday THAT is what I am spending my time doing, and that takes a woman of faith, however feeble that faith may seem, in her Heavenly Father that He does and will continue to provide a way for miracles to happen in a heart that is so small and eyes that cannot see what He can see - an end that is beautifully brought about by the little nothings we do each and every day. At times when we do not believe we can do it, He knows we can. He knows what is best for us, and He will provide a way. There is something to be learned in all things. Even if we cannot see it, just believing this can help us through. We do not always need to understand why, we just need to believe that He has faith in us that we can do it. Whatever "it" is. When someone asks you what you did today and you feel like you have nothing to show to account for the hours, please say at least in your heart, "I am raising a family, 1 day at a time!"

"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.
God sees the invisbile mom!"
end of quote

1 comment:

  1. You have a beautiful way with words Shelli. Thank you for writing this. I needed to hear this today. I was feeling annoyed and frustrated with all of my "half-accomplishments" today. Motherhood is a challenge and it's not always fun but it's worth it in the end. (or so I'm told:) It's truly the every day little things that make up the most important memories.