I am a doer. I like to be accomplishing something at all times. I have my to-do list written out (most of the time) and I have a hard time sitting still.
I also have, in the past five years, been very involved online with this site and the two Facebook Pages I own – Finer Femininity and Forgotten Catholic Manhood.
So this book, Hands Free Mama, has been valuable for me. It reminds me of my priorities…what could be more important than my family? To be present to them is the most important thing of all!
I remember Colleen Hammond, the author of Dressing With Dignity saying that if she helped a million women dress more modestly but lost any of her children through mixed priorities, what would it all be worth? Nothing!
So….be available to your children. Work hard on it. It will be the one thing that will matter most to you when you enter your golden years….that you have not put your dear ones on the back burner!
Here is an excerpt from Rachel’s book:
Are You Available?
by Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands Free Mama Blog: Hands Free Mama
When my daughter received the DVD boxed set of Little House on the Prairie for her birthday, I was nearly as excited as she was. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve cuddling with my family as life in Walnut Grove played out on a static-lined television screen.
Yet when I looked at the discs and realized there were forty-four Little House episodes, my first thoughts were very Non – Hands Free.
I looked at that collection of DVDs and saw forty-four opportunities to be otherwise highly productive. Although my inner drill sergeant doesn’t hold as much authority as it once did, that demanding voice of productivity and efficiency still tries to tempt me to the other side — straight into the arms of distraction.
Just think how much you could get accomplished while the girls watch Little House. They will not make a peep for the entire fifty-minute episode, and in that time you could easily knock several items off your to-do list!
But my Hands Free inner voice gently reminded me about what really mattered. This is your chance to sit your constantly moving body down on the couch, hold your daughters, and be a part of their world. Don’t blow it.
So after dinner the following Friday night, we put on our pajamas, popped popcorn, grabbed the softest blankets we own, and pushed the Play button on episode one, “A Harvest of Friends.” I was the first to find a spot on the couch.
And just as my backside hit the leather, my two children drew to my sides as if they were being sucked toward me by the world’s most powerful magnet. One child magnetized to my left, the other to my right.
Not even the tiniest popcorn kernel, should it fall from our hands, could come between this solid mass of togetherness.
Sit on the couch much, Rachel Stafford? I decided this was not the time to berate myself for not doing more couch time with my children.
It was time to enjoy this moment, the one I chose over dishes, laundry, writing, cleaning, emailing, or multitasking all five activities at once.
I had gotten this choice right. And I got the following forty-three consecutive episodes right too. I stayed true to the promise I made myself.
Little House means family time, and my children are fully aware and delighted that we do this together. For that fifty-minute period, I am not a moving target that my daughters have .01 percent percent chance of hitting.
Instead, I am available to sit there and simply love them. I don’t really like to think about it too much, but my older child will only live in my house for ten more years. Ten years. That’s nothing — the blink of an eye.
And if I continue darting about the house, going from one activity to the next for the remaining ten years, I can be sure of one thing: I will not hear my children’s thoughts, questions, revelations, troubles, or triumphs.
Because here’s some reality: No child wants to talk to the back of a parent’s head. No child wants to make an appointment to get a little of a parent’s time. No child wants to talk to a parent who can’t look up from distraction long enough to make eye contact.
Thanks to an experience shared by a blog reader, I’ve been given some insight about what children do want from a parent.
My eighteen-year-old son who left for college in August called me on Sunday night. After we had the “How are classes going?” conversation, the “How much money is in your account?” conversation, and the “Do you have any clean laundry?” conversation, he said, “I really miss you, Mom.”
I was thinking, Yes, I’m sure you do miss me — washing clothes and making dinner.
It was then that I asked him, “Oh, yeah, what do you miss about Mom?” His answer was simple, but it stunned me. “I miss just talking to you. You know, at the end of the day, when we were both home . . . I miss talking to you.”
Before I knew it, I was crying. Of all the things I had done for him as his mom, the thing he missed the most was talking to me.
A few days after reading this, I was gathering activities for Avery to do while we sat at Natalie’s swim meet. Normally I would have packed my writing folder, but it struck me that maybe this was not an opportunity to check something off the list . . . maybe this was an opportunity to be available.
I left my work at home and instead brought a few of my daughter’s favorite books and a snack to share.
Avery spent a lot of the time just sitting on my lap — a lap that, for once, was empty. We had the most wonderful conversation and snuggle time.
As my legs grew numb under the weight of her body, she turned to me and said nine of the most blessed words I have heard since beginning my journey to live Hands Free. “This is the kind of mom I always wanted.”
By “this” I knew exactly what she meant.
Completely available to love her.
“Your work as parents, therefore, is a holy and religious work. You may produce doctors, lawyers, scientists. But to the extent that your children do not reach heaven or are given every opportunity to do so, you have not succeeded. And you will begin to realize the full potentialities of your vocation when you see your family in this light.
In the face of such widespread error, the Church turns hopefully, as she did two thousand years ago, to the family. She would (1) have you recognize the Christian dignity of marriage; (2) strengthen your determination to live your family life in Christ and for Christ; (3) confirm your resistance to the pressures which threaten to destroy family virtue and domestic tranquility; (4) inoculate your family against moral contamination.
For no matter what evil influences flourish outside your home, your family can be an impregnable refuge of Christian life.”
-Fr. George Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook https://amzn.to/2vycp4R (afflink)
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