About five years ago, a friend of mine gave me a little book that I have cherished and passed around numerous times to my female friends.
I recently came across the book when I was cleaning my office. After re-reading it for the 10th or so time, it occurred to me that men might also benefit from reading this book.
"The Invisible Woman: When Only God Sees," by Nicole Johnson, is told in first person by a character who is a stay-at-home mother.
As the title of the book suggests, the mother feels like she is invisible. Once an attorney, she chronicles her feeling unappreciated and unnoticed by her husband and two children. She talks about how much she does for her family, and yet nobody seems to notice or care, no matter how much she gives of herself.
What mother, whether she works outside of the home or not, hasn’t had such feelings at one time or another?
I well remember days when our four children were young when the only time I sat down was to read a Dr. Seuss book to someone.
My days began way before dawn and usually without a full night’s sleep due to someone having a nightmare, wetting the bed or getting sick.
I remember watching my husband walk out the door — all freshly showered and dressed, holding a cup of coffee. I kissed him goodbye, secretly envying his 30-minute drive alone in a quiet car with the news playing softly in the background.
It was hard not to be a little jealous of his lunches out at nice restaurants or his trips out of town to exciting places and luxury hotels. Of course, I knew what I was doing was important and that I had chosen to be home with our children, but still motherhood is definitely a thankless job when you are in the moment.
So, most women will have no trouble relating to Johnson’s book, which you can easily read in less than an hour. She probably planned that since the bulk of her audience doesn’t have much time to spare.
In the book, the busy mother shares her frustrations with a dear friend who travels and doesn’t have any children of her own. On the friend’s next jaunt to Europe, she brought her troubled friend home a book about the great Cathedrals in Europe. Puzzled yet curious, the stay-at-home mom began reading the book and soon realized the analogy.
The book explained that from 1050 to 1350, several million tons of stone was "quarried" in France, specifically for the use of building many great cathedrals and churches.
These great buildings were built by "the little people." Because the structures took 100 years or more to complete, those who worked on them typically knew they would never see their work finished.
Imagine toiling your entire life on something you would never even worship inside of.
The book explained these diligent workers felt that even though they might never "see" the end result, God saw all of their work and their work was to glorify Him.
The analogy was not lost on the mother in the book. She learned of many medieval artists who purposely hid some of their best artwork — statues behind structures, secret paintings behind canvases, because they felt it was mostly important for God to see their work.
Johnson does an amazing job packing so much information and inspirational thoughts into such a small book.
I hope you will get this little book as a gift for any mother you may know. All mothers struggle with their self-worth from time to time.
I also feel dads would benefit from reading these words and considering the context. We women are certainly wired differently, and while dad’s mean well, they sometimes do not realize that mother’s need praise, thanks and encouragement much more frequently than once a year when Mother’s Day rolls around.
No matter how old you are, one thing is certain: your mother will love it if you tell her she is anything but invisible.
Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.