The Invisible Mom

"The Invisible Mom" by Charisse Tierney (

Pixabay (2015), CC0 Public Domain


“Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the promised land. She prepares a world she will not see.” –Pope Paul VI

“Do you need college degrees to be a mom?” my eight-year-old daughter asked me one morning. Even though the clear answer was a simple “no,” I hesitated. In the course of a single day I feel as though I’ve been a psychologist, a chef, an educator, a spiritual director, and, at times, a nurse or physician.

I finally answered my daughter with, “You don’t have to have a college degree to be a mom, but you do have to be married!”

As moms, we wear so many hats that nobody sees. We feel pulled in so many different directions while still appearing to have it all together (well, some of the time). We have the birth certificates of our children, but nothing that declares we have earned an official degree in motherhood. Many of our little acts of love are concealed within the walls of our home.

There are times when we can start to feel invisible — even to the ones with whom we are closest.

Sometimes I wonder if the parenting choices I’ve made have really mattered. Has staying home with my children all these years really made a difference? Do they really only notice the laundry when it doesn’t get done? Are homemade cookies and loaves of bread really worth it? Have I laid a foundation of love and trust like I had hoped?

I’m not sure what I expected when our first child entered the teen years. While he is showing remarkable growth in maturity and responsibility, his introverted personality often leaves me wondering what he is thinking. But the other day, as I was looking through his prayer journal from school, a drawing caught my attention. My 13-year-old son had drawn a picture of a flower with several roots sprouting down from the stem. He had written words like “Church” and “Life Everlasting” on a couple of the roots. And on one root, he had simply written “Mom.”

"The Invisible Mom" by Charisse Tierney (

Drawing by Owen Tierney. Photo by Charisse Tierney. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

I asked my son what the picture meant, and I got his usual response of an ambiguous shoulder shrug and a grunt. But then he said something like “I don’t know … it’s supposed to be a picture showing things and people that have inspired us or helped us or something …” After his brief, teen-speak response, he looked at me and smiled.

And that was enough.

It was enough to show me that maybe I am on the right path with my children. It was enough to show me that being a hidden root in their lives is better than reaching for the sun myself. Because it made me realize that I am residing in rich soil … and that if I stay there long enough, if I dig deep enough, if I seek the right nourishment, the life that I grow will indeed bear fruit.

So I will keep doing the invisible, in the hopes that my children will one day be the visible — a sign of accepting my small part in the role of God’s grace. A sign that all of the discipline moments, all of the laundry, all of the home-cooked meals, and all of the prayer guidance does make a difference. A sign that being invisible doesn’t mean that you are unimportant.

Copyright 2017 Charisse Tierney


About Author

Charisse Tierney lives in Newton, Kansas, with her husband Rob and six children. Charisse and Rob are Natural Family Planning and Theology of the Body for Teens teachers. Charisse holds degrees in music performance and is a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion. She also writes for Family Foundations magazine and blogs at Paving the Path to Purity. Find her on Facebook.


  1. This is really beautiful. I’m in the baby years right now, and it feels a lot like the early days of planting a veggie garden with my mom. Lots of watering, lots of weeding, and lots of just hoping that eventually I’ll see some good things growing and that someday there will be a fruitful harvest.

    • That is so true, Hilary! The baby years are filled with lots of “invisible mom” days. I’m sure that all of your watering and weeding will pay off! God bless you and your family–may you always be inspired as you look ahead to your fruitful harvest.

    • Haha! Yes, I know what you mean about the blight, Merridith! But I guess it’s those glimpses of the beautiful fruit that help us to carry on. “An act of faith every single day.”–beautiful!

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