Dear Mamas - You are a cathedral too.
I’ll admit it, I can be a crier. I’ve always been a softy but since having children, the tears somehow trigger more easily. Even so, it’s not very often that something can make my eyes swell for two very different reasons.
But that’s right where I found myself after reading Nicole Johnson’s viral piece, “The Invisible Mother.”
Have you read this one? I believe it was originally published in 2005 by Johnson. But more than 15 years later it’s still continually shared.
A friend sent it to me, and instantly I was lost in her story. Johnson shares how she often felt “invisible” as a mother. She recalls the mountains of ways in which we nurture, love, provide for, and respond to our family that are full of detail, attention and time but largely go completely unrecognized. One evening a friend gave her a book about the great cathedrals, with the inscription, “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.” She discovered that the builders of the cathedrals, who laboriously carved such exquisite detail and beauty into the stone, also went mostly unrecognized…invisible. And she realizes her work as a mother, is much the same.
She was building a cathedral too.
Reading through it, I felt my shoulders relax and heard my inner voice cry with relief, “Yes! Someone else gets it. I’m not alone! Sometimes the job may be invisible, but that doesn’t diminish the beautiful and hard work being done. The growing and nurturing of humans is as complex and awe inspiring as the grand cathedrals.”
And the tears came. I was known.
Moments later though, I was caught off guard by a second wave of emotion. But this time it was different. This time, it felt more like raw frustration.
Yes, we are builders of cathedrals. And wow did it feel good to be validated in that way.
But we are worthy to be SEEN too!
From the moment we're handed that bundle of joy, those first feelings of invisibility can begin to taunt. We're pouring out everything we've got; we're all in trying to build up and shape this new precious life. And we learn quickly there are seasons of mothering when we feel lost... invisible. Times when the demands of the "job" are overwhelming, but we're not sure if anyone even notices. Perhaps we're sure it's been eons since anyone has seen us as much outside of a 24-hour food truck and a circus ring master. Or we stand in front of the mirror, wondering where the other girl who used to stare back has gone.
But Moms, please hear me.
We are builders of cathedrals. Yes. But WE are ALSO cathedrals!
So if you are in one of these invisible seasons, lean in... and listen.
You have depth of detail and insights that deserve to be seen by the world, just like the ornate stained glass.
You have rich carvings etched in valid ideas and problem-solving wit to be heard.
You have the fortitude, strength and stamina of arched and stacked stone.
You have the softness and beautiful complexity of exquisitely colored tapestries.
And please do not forget this… Just like the grand cathedrals have been the centers to their villages, you are to that to your family.
You are the gathering place.
You are the grounding place.
You are the warming place.
You are where your people come to be nurtured and have their souls tended.
YOU have been created with magnificent intent and purpose.
Remember, even the cathedrals have days when thick fog clings, and perhaps it’s difficult to see the spire from the village. But eventually the mist subsides and that grand cathedral in all its detail is seen again.
Building cathedrals is not easy. It’s labor intensive, sacrificing and at times yes, identity tapping. And wow, you are doing a heart filled job of it.
But Mothers, please don’t lose sight that you are of wondrous architecture as well. You are so worthy to be fully seen, strong and brilliant in your own design.
You... are a Cathedral too.