Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Posts tagged ‘Kids’

Invisible Women

I don’t know where this story originated. If anyone finds (or is) the author, please let me know and I will happily give credit where credit is due! The piece was emailed to me and I thought it was too good to keep to myself. (For the record, I did correct a few grammatical mistakes in the original sent to me.)

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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, ‘Pick me up 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 was 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.’

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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.’ely4.jpg

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 shows up at a job that she will never see finished, to work on something that her 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.

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Whirled Peace

Today is the 15th annual International Day of Peace. Elementary school children in our district made pinwheels in art this week as part of the “Pinwheels for Peace” initiative. This morning, several parent volunteers “planted” the pinwheels across the entire front of the school.

Peace is NOT just the absence of war. It is also the absence of violence and the absence of divisive conflict and disrespectful disagreement. Please join me in praying for and working toward peace in our world – today and every day.

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An Interesting Morning

Yesterday was the second day of school, and Megan walked.

You see, last year, the girls had some problems getting up and moving in the morning, even though Megan, the 6 year old, goes to bed at 7:00 and Emily, the 8 year old, at 8:00. So this year, I told the kids that whoever missed the bus would have to walk to school. It seemed to impress them – school is, after all, 1.4 miles away! I figured I’d have at least a good week before the “back to school” euphoria ebbed away and the routine feeling started setting in, at which point I’d have to remind them again to get moving.

But on Day 2, Meg decided not to get up and I decided 45 minutes of nagging was enough. So Megan walked and I accompanied her in the car. She ran the first quarter mile without stopping, I got out and personally walked her across every road, and the first part of the journey was uneventful. Just across from the school, however, I got pulled over by a police car!

Although he sympathized with my attempt to teach a lesson, he told me I was a traffic hazard. Plus, the police department had received 10 calls about a van following a child, so I would have to find another solution. Meg got wide eyes when I told her that a policeman asked why she was walking to school instead of riding the bus! I decided to milk it and told her the policeman said she would have to go to jail if she kept missing the bus (yeah – that one will probably come back and bite me, but I was mad!).

Truth be told, even though the depth of her stubbornness amazes me, I was proud that she did actually walk the entire way to school without complaint – and proud of myself for following through and doing what I said I would do. That said, I sure was glad when she got up without incident this morning! We even had enough time to read a book before she set out for the bus stop. Maybe the lesson sunk in after all. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

The First Day of School

Well…today is the first day of school in Stow! It wasn’t as hard this year to watch the girls get on the bus as it was last year when my “baby” went to Kindergarten. This year, after 4 weeks of relatively unscheduled summer fun (the first 6 weeks were pretty full of scheduled fun!), we were all looking forward to getting back into a routine.

We have lots of first-day-of-school traditions, including the yearly picture next to the piano (handy for seeing how tall they’re growing through the years!). But my favorite first-day-of-school tradition is one I hope my kids appreciate when they’re older. After I dropped Emily off at 4-year-old preschool for the first time, I went home (tearfully) and wrote her a letter. I recorded my feelings about taking her to school, my hopes for her for the year, and some school-related milestones she had already reached. Each year since, I’ve written a similar letter. Then I go back and read all the letters from previous years as a great reminder of how far she’s come and how much she’s grown! When Meg started school, I started the same tradition for her.

Sometime before Emily tuned one year old, someone suggested writing her a yearly birthday letter. I thought that was a great idea, but I never got around to doing it. After she turned 4 and I still hadn’t gotten around to it, I decided I could start a tradition of writing a letter on the first day of school instead!

I haven’t decided when I will give them the letters. I’ve done them all on the computer except Meg’s 4-year-old preschool letter (which I believe is somewhere in the school memorabilia box). I originally planned to re-write them by hand and compile them in an album to give them, maybe at High School graduation? But now, I can foresee using a personal handwriting font and creating a digital album to give them.

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