Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Invisible Mom

A friend posted this on her blog and I loved it so much I just had to share it.

Invisible Mothers

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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer's End

I keep meaning to blog. I haven't been too busy. My excuse is that, well, life has kind of been on cruise control lately. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but that's the only way I can describe it.

Sam took a few days off from the clinic during the past couple weeks so he could stay home and play before school started, which happened yesterday. He is now a third year. We can't believe how fast the past two years have gone by and how much our lives have changed since we moved to Philly.

Now that Clara plays with toys and rolls around a bit, Abby seems to enjoy her even more. I think she will be thrilled when she Clara starts crawling.

I love my girl's blue eyes. I feel like I have a part of Sam with me whenever he is away. I hope all of our children (all 23 of them) have blue eyes.

We borrowed an exersaucer (The spell check doesn't like the word exersaucer. Imagine that.) from a friend to see if it would help Clara's muscle development. A certain almost-three-year-old thought it was a toy for her. My big mistake was letting her get in it. Thankfully, after a few days, she stopped asking.

A little scavenger has been stealing tomatoes from our balcony. Fortunately (but really unfortunately), the tomatoes aren't that good. They've grown wonderfully but they don't have the best flavor/texture. We'll have to try a different variety next year. This little fellow, or one of his buddies has also been stealing the acorns from Abby's collection.

The exersaucer was a hit for everyone. Clara seems to be getting stronger everyday. We are hoping she won't need any therapy. (More on that another day.)

We started expanding Clara's food options, with little success. Avocado-no. Green beans-heck no. Peas-eh. She isn't the good eater that Abby was. She gags and even made herself throw up. Perhaps we will have more success with some of the orange veggies and fruits.

Oh, what am I going to do about that hair? I've trimmed the tuft three times now!

Abby and Clara are officially roommates. The transition went really well. It's nice to have our room to ourselves at night.

Daddy and Abby made some goo, which was a lot of fun for both of them. He followed it up by baking brownies with her. Daddy's are the best!

Well, I think that about covers it. Maybe I'll get back into the swing of things now that school has started...maybe not. And yes, I know I haven't done a flashback for a while but the next post is our engagement and it is intimating me. I want to get everything right.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hair Bow Holder

For the past (almost) three years, I've been keeping Abby's (and now Clara's) hair bows in a cute, little box. I've been wanting a better way to store them for a while. The box was functional, but I was getting sick of dumping it out everyday to look for the bow I wanted. Plus, some of the flowers were getting squished funny in the box.
I knew I wanted it to be vertical because I was going to hang it in a fairly narrow spot in the closet. I also new I didn't want to spend any money. I looked up some ideas online. and came up with this.

Most of the tutorials I found online used a picture frame or canvas. I adapted those ideas and covered a nice piece of cardboard with some old fabric. (And I mean, Halloween costume from when I was in elementary school old.) Then I attached some coordinating ribbon. I figured the fabric and ribbon choices weren't crucial, seeing as you can't even see them when all of the bow are on.

I'll probably attach some ribbon to hang from the bottom since it is nearly at capacity already.

Now the cute box just houses headbands. Hurray for efficiency!

Friday, August 12, 2011


It seems to me that as parents we are constantly teetering between wanting our kids to grow up and trying, desperately, to keep them tiny. When really, what we should be doing is enjoying them exactly as they are.

There is a recent trend in parenting, a concerted effort to make our kids grow up--infant potty training, teach your baby to read, preschool for three-year-olds. We want them to walk sooner, talk earlier, read and write and balance the checkbook before they even start kindergarten.

At the same time, we want them to cuddle all day, fall asleep in our arms and remain innocent--so, we shield them from any danger that could present itself.

I try to imagine what kids were like 200 years ago. In a lot of ways, they were mature beyond their years. Responsibilities and expectations were given. Children helped more and worked harder. At the same time, I think they retained their childlike innocence a lot longer. When they weren't working, they were playing--really playing. Not watching t.v. No Angry Birds (though I'm certain there were activities involving birds and shooting--boys will be boys.) Just imaginative, active playing.

Now, it's naive to think that kids, even 200 years ago, didn't have struggles. There has always been gossip and bullying, lust and jealously but it has never been so easy do to these things and there has never been a means by which to indulge in these behaviors anonymously.

I worry about my kids--that they will learn things they should never learn, that they will act ways they should never act. It's terrifying. Sometimes I want to lock them away, throw away the t.v. and the computer and just let them be little for as long as I possibly can. But alas, as Abby has informed me numerous times, they have to grow up.

I want to do my best to enjoy my children exactly as they are. No more wishing away the baby days and then longing for them when they are past. And in enjoying them as they are, I can be that much more in tune with their needs--to protect them from things they should never see and to guide them through situations they must face.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shirt to Dress Refashion

I decided to embark on a sewing adventure yesterday and transform one of my polo shirts into a dress for Abby.

I'm very proud of this project. It's the first re-structuring project I've ever done and I did it without a tutorial or pattern (just a little help from one of Abby's shirts).

I wish I could give you a play-by-play of how I did it, but I didn't think of that until I was already well into the project. Plus, I'm not sure I could have explained it all that well anyway.

I also wish I could show you what my living room looked like while I sewed. Abby loves to wreak havoc on our house whenever the sewing bin comes out. You'll just have to imagine spools of unwound ribbon, dumped bags of beads and fabric scraps turned into a comfy, cozy bed.

Here's the finished product.

If only that dang Lacoste alligator wasn't shifted awkwardly. Perhaps I will cover it up with a pocket or something.

Play Dough tested, Abby approved.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Poconos

Our friends, Braden, Holly and Lydia (she's a baby, so I'm not sure if she cared much about our presence), invited us to a cabin that Braden's colleague owns in the Poconos. We arrived at the house at bedtime so I made Abby a quick bite to eat before putting her down for the night. As soon as she got to the house, she said she wanted to go home to go potty. She has a recent aversion to public restrooms thanks to a terrifying experience with an automatic-flushing toilet. I told her we wouldn't be going home for a while so she better just go, but she claimed she didn't have to anymore. However, while she was sitting at the table eating, she told me her pants were wet. This was pretty much her fist accident. After that episode, I was worried that we were in for a rocky weekend. (Thanks to a shameless bribe of candy, she went potty the next morning and was fine for the rest of the trip.)

We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs out on the beautiful wrap-around porch. It was a gorgeous home--four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths--definitely not what I would consider a cabin.

The boys got up bright and early to fish. The lake was a hop, skip and a jump for the back of the house. They caught several fish, but only one big enough to take home.

Sam took Abby out on the lake. They caught two fish and saw a beaver. Abby told Sam not to hurt her fish after they reeled it in. I'm not sure he obeyed her orders exactly, but what she doesn't know can't hurt her, right?

Abby loved walking around and exploring outside the house. She found the perfect walking stick.

Around lunchtime, it started to rain and didn't stop for the rest of the day. It was still a beautiful day outside so we took advantage of the fresh air.

Braden and Holly set up some poles just as the rain started. Braden took an umbrella and checked on them a few times. He caught another fish and a turtle.

Abby loved playing with Lydia. I think she is what Abby was picturing when we told her she would have a baby sister--someone who crawls and interacts more.

While Sam and Braden were checking the lines, Abby and I went out on the porch. I went inside to go to the bathroom and came back to find her splashing and dancing in the rain.

She was totally soaked but she had a blast.

After dinner, we made smores in the toaster oven. I'm not usually a big smores fan but these were delicious.

We put the girls to bed for a few hours and then drove home (Sam had to be back for meetings Sunday morning.) They were perfect angels and stayed asleep the whole drive home--even when we stopped for gas and tolls.

It was the perfect little getaway. It was so relaxing and fun. We just wish we could have stayed longer.
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