Note: We loved this piece and thought you would too! —Anne

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, and 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 hair 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. Great Job, MOM!

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know….I just did. The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

– Author Unknown (If you know who wrote this, please let us know!)

[MANY thanks to all those who wrote to tell this is an excerpt from The Invisible Woman: A Special Story for Mothers by Nicole Johnson. Visit Nicole’s website at]


Leave a Comment
  1. Kathleen says:

    Anne, that was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Anne says:

    You are welcome! I felt the same way when I read it. It touched a tender spot because it is so easy for us as moms to feel invisible. I’ve even said to my children, “You don’t see me.”

    It’s nice to know we’re building cathedrals, isn’t it!

  3. Kendra says:

    This is a wonderful piece. The author is Nicole Johnson

  4. Rosemary says:

    Thanks for sharing this…
    I am so grateful to the Lord for the cathedrals that HE builds and allows this weak workman to take part in. He is beginning to show His workmanship, and all the invisible was not in vain. Praise God their foundation is strong- Jesus!

  5. Karen Comeaux says:

    This made my day!!! I was in tears this weekend, after spending the entire weekend tending to others, etc. and now I realize I was feeling “invisible”. I’m much better now, after reading this!Thanks.

  6. Dana Rexrode says:

    Hello! I’ve loved this little story for years. However, I believe that authorship should be credited where it is due. It is my understanding that this was written by Nicole Johnson, the dramatists for Women of Faith. I saw her perform it at a Women of Faith conference in Charlotte, NC about five or six years ago. It was awesome.

    I’m not sure how this story keeps getting separated from her name, but I thought you should know!


  7. Peg Rawson says:

    I loved this piece. Some online research turned up the author as Nicole Johnson. It is an excerpt from a book.

  8. Michelle says:

    This title caught my attention because I feel like this every day and reading this has helped me to handle that feeling a little better, reminding me that nothing goes unseen by God. I am also convinced that the writer, having a new understanding of her role as a mother, wishes to remain an invisible blessing to others through this piece. If the author is reading this, thank you, your words have touched my life.

  9. Anne says:

    Thank you all for sharing how much you enjoyed this piece–it touched our hearts too. We also appreciate your help in identifying the author! Several of us looked online and didn’t find her name — leave it to a great bunch of homeschool moms to ferret out the information! We have now changed the post to reflect Nicole Johnson’s authorship.

    Thank you, Nicole, for encouraging all of us moms who sometimes feel invisible.