Sometimes I feel invisible. 

Once upon a time, appreciative looks followed in the wake of my stylish clothes and legs-that-went-on-forever, red hair to my waist and the perfume of self-confidence that was almost visible to the naked eye. I laughed loudly, flirted easily, offered opinions without thinking and, did I mention? The boys wanted to marry me.

Because, once, I was young and rather pretty and interesting. (Can you say this without sounding prideful?) And I knew that men were looking, that I was desirable, sexy even.

I was noticed.

And I liked it.

(Also, I liked having the belly of a pop star –  even if it was just for one brief shining moment.)

And now I feel invisible sometimes.

When I go to the mall, with the baby strapped to my chest and the toddler clinging to my hand and the preschooler walking two steps in front of us while I plead for her to “wait up,” no one is looking at me with appreciation. When I dash out to get groceries by myself (which is a great moment of the week, leaving me feeling all rebellious and bad ass), no one tries to flirt with me.  When I push my stroller at the park, I’m passed by packs of girls, pairs of young women, and I feel frumpy in my yoga pants but pretty sure that I can’t wear those cute little outfits anymore without looking like I’m trying too hard, another woman in her 30s that wants to be a teenager again.

I feel like I am just one of the crowd now, standing here on the edges of feminine middle-age. 

And beyond the physical beauty, the world doesn’t notice me or pay attention. Because what does just another mum have to offer? To the church? to government? to pastors and ministry leaders? to intellectuals? to poets? to writers? to artists? to a celebrity and physical appearance obsessed culture? We’re easily dismissed by the labels or the appearance, our gender or experiences.

There are those that think that I’m not as competent as you because of my choices. I know it’s hard to believe, but I promise that when I put on my yoga pants and nursing bra, I did not take off my brain and my passionate soul.

The eyes of the world (and the church?) just slide right over and past me though, just another tired mother, clearly not much to offer.

I remember after one of our miscarriages, a pastor that I respected sought me out at church. It was crowded and loud especially near the stage where we stood. She crouched close to me, held my hands in both of her lined ones and whispered that she had a word from God for me. She said, I looked across the room at you and God showed me that your heart is broken and – she lifted my chin and looked me straight in the face – he wants me to tell you that you are not forgotten.

You are not forgotten.

This morning in my chair with my littlest girl curled up against me, nursing, and my Bible laid open, I read, “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you – never. 


Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.*”

My name is there, clearly visible.

Right beside your name, you are clearly visible.

There is a voice crying in our wilderness: You are loved. 

I see you, Beloved.

You are loved. You are beautiful.

post signature

*Reference from Isaiah 49:15-16

In which we use our words to love each other [and The Other]
In which I blame the Rice Krispies
thank you for sharing...
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  • From someone who has always lived on the fringes and had people look through/past me all my life. This is beautiful.  

  •  Wow.  I have thought this post many times.  No longer do guys flirt with me at red lights.  Something about the three car seats and the frazzled look on my face no longer draws their attention.  What a beautiful reminder that we are still beautiful to Him.

    Thanks!  🙂

  • Mizmelly

    Ahh thanks so much for that today. I am back auditioning and it is so hard to connect back to the charismatic young woman who could walk into a room and bag a role in the blink of an eye. I was cocky, sure but there was an inherent sense of visibility that boosted my confidence. I knew I was SEEN. Maybe it’s a good thing that that’s gone because now I find myself pacing the corridors crying out to Jesus to just give me enough strength not to puke on the director’s shoes! I take Jesus with me into auditions and possibly I’m a more centred and mature actor because of it.

  • Mary1912

    Man, can I ever relate to this post. I even have a pic on my FB page of me with my six pack abs. I feel this even more keenly now that the kids are not always in tow and I am just me….wrinkles and gray coming on faster than I thought they would. I don’t look 25 anymore even though I feel that way in my head. More times than I can count I find myself trying to remember that the members of the Buckeye football team are not too old to be my children by ANY stretch.

    It’s very easy to feel forgotten. Thanks for this post today.  

  • Pkristin40

    I feel bad ass when solo at the grocery store too. And down right naughty if I don’t hurry as fast as possible.

  • Amandaroggow

    I found your blog a few months ago and have always been a lurker.  This comment isn’t  directly related  to this post (though, as usual, it is full of awesomeness and I, being a 30 something mom, can totally relate). What I wanted to comment on was your honesty about your miscarriages.  I have to admit- I have been envious.  I know (and as you so eloquently explained here) your life isn’t perfect but you represent ( in the limited online way) what I have always longed for- Three healthy/normal pregnancies/ children – a few years apart.   I was so excited to find your blog because too often I feel awash in conservative, close-minded Christianity but as I would read each week about your third pregnancy and how normal and exciting and LONG it was I hurt in my heart. I have two beautiful biological boys though I have never had a third trimester.  Both were born severely premature (23 and 26 weeks, 4 years apart) and have over 8 months in the NICU, 10 surgeries and years of therapy between them.  I have also had 5 miscarriages.  No one can give me an answer for why.  My point in sharing this simply to let you know that, though I would never be happy for another’s grief at all, it helps my heart to hear others struggles and to know I am not so freakish… I guess, as you said, that what I’ve  experience is not so invisible.   Thank you.       

  • Saramccord

    Oh, thank you!  I just spent all morning with hateful thoughts in my head about this very thing!  (When I have the baby, I’ll get skinny again!  I’ll grow my hair out!  I’ll buy cute clothes!  And on and on….) My heart truly needed this.  xoxo

  • How can a 50-something man offer a comment that will seem neither creepy nor condescending? I’ve been the person both attracted and mesmerized by the youth and confidence of young women (and occasionally still am), but beauty and attraction change in the eye of the beholder as well as in the person beheld. The passing decades have demonstrated to me that a life of grace in the midst of daily, duty-stretched love is an enduring inspiration and a picture of God’s faithfulness, which is always beautiful. There may be someone at the grocery who sees and gently offers praise as he pushes the cart the other direction.

    • Stephanie

      Thanks for weighing in, Ray. I appreciate these sentiments immensely.

  • I don’t even know how to respond to this…it’s my heart laid bare. So many tired days in yoga pants and nursing bra’s and my soul is screaming…what about me!!! I have something to offer too….we look past so many in the church negating their worth, how can we have faith like a child without considering the children? The passion of youth without embracing their struggle. The wisdom of those gone before without taking the time to listen? Words are so powerful, but not only to harm…also to give hope and comfort and encouragement which you do here so well. Thank you.

  • Anne J.

    You made me cry AGAIN!  Thanks for that verse. So glad you had your Bible open this morning while you nursed.
    I identify with so much of what you wrote.  Those early months right after B was born, I definitely felt at my frumpiest and least attractive.  For me, pregnancy meant great nails and good hair and clear skin and a general feeling of blooming, even if I was getting big! Postpartum was hair falling out and skin drying out and feeling mushy and not wanting to wear mat clothes, but not yet fitting my old clothes. Ugh.  And, here am I, two years later, still feeling pretty unhappy about my body but eating more sugar than is good for me because I am perpetually tired. 
    But isn’t it good to know, no matter how yuck I may feel, my God sees me and loves me. What a precious reminder.

    • Anne J.

      Oh…and you said ASS, my favourite bad word 🙂

  • Ness in Part

     Thank you. Your words bring tears. I have one beautiful little boy, who’s life greatly changed my outward appearance and out of home involvement, but I also have five lost babies, and not only do I feel these things from the world around me, but sometimes, sometimes, I feel invisible and forgotten by God. I need that reminder that I am etched on his hand and deeply loved. 

  • Mm.  Beautiful.

    I think this post reflects the cry of most mothers’ hearts.  Do you still me?  Do you see all I do?  Do you see all I am, beyond my children, beyond my role as Mother?  I was young, pretty, and full of life once too…(I, too, feel all rebellious and badass when I go get groceries alone.)

  • Emily Wierenga

    oh sarah. i cried at those words “you are not forgotten.” i’ve felt a bit forgotten this week. thank you, friend.

  •  Love this.

  • Naturallychicmama

    Wonderful  post and reminder to all of us frazzled young mommies!

  •  Perfect post. We all long to be noticed, to be appreciated. Your post reminds me that even when we are noticed by the right people, they’ll eventually let us down. God is searching the earth for those who are looking for him as well, and that is a great comfort.

  • This brought tears to my eyes! Thank you! I’ve really been struggling lately with “growing up”. I have three girls and I feel old all of a sudden. My body isn’t in the shape I want it to be and I could stand to lose 20 lbs! I used to be the one who got looks and was well liked. Now I get looks from others for none other than my three year old screaming in the store! 🙂 This was a great reminder! Thank you!

  •  Awww Sarah you are gorgeous! I met you yesterday at top 30 celebration and I am so in awe your little baby is so absolutely adorable. You also look fantastic! Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but I can also relate to how you feel. Someone actually asked me yesterday at the event “So how many years younger is your husband?”  I was like wtf? Are you kidding me. He’s older than me! Then I grabbed another glass of wine from Sue and mingled and thought “screw it!” God luvs me.

  •  I am way out of the young mom part of my life (even though we foster a baby) but I feel invisible, too.  I am less than six months from fifty and yet I am still surprised when I see pictures of high school and college friends and discover that they are middle aged. If they are middle aged, then I am too.
     I forget that people see me as older as I still feel fresh and new.  I feel as though I have much to offer and so many things to do.  
    Maybe we all need to just slow down and really see each other.

  • hayley morgan

    i wish i knew the author of this… one of my friends re-posted it on facebook:

    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.’
     
    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 daughter to tell the friend she’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 her to want to come home.
    And then, if there is anything more to say to her friend, to add,
    ‘you’re gonna love it there.’
     
    As mothers, we are building
    great cathedrals. We cannot see 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!
     
    Hope
    this encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does. We
    never know what our finished products will turn out to be.
     

    • hippie4ever

       How beautiful!

  • JulieK

    Yep. Feel this way all the time since giving birth. I think I was even flirted with when I was PREGNANT but it’s like once you HAVE the baby… foreget it. You’re a frump. “too busy” to be considered for anything worthwhile. In a run for public office in my town, my opponents even brought this up against me !! That I was a young mother and could not have the time required to serve. (okay, since WINNING said election, I sometimes muse that there WAS a bit of truth to that! LOL – I have the time, but it IS a sacrifice, and I’ve decided it’s a sacrifice I”m not making again next term. But the point is, I could still DO IT! I’m not  some washed-up mommy! ) This is a great topic, I might have to write out my thoughts on the mater someday! When I come to terms with them! TY!

  • Jenn

    Beautiful.

  • Stephanie

    I’ve been thinking about this post every day for an entire week. THAT, my friend, is the sign of a well-written, thoughtful, and captivating post. Thank you for all that you do here…all that you are.