If You Only Knew


The ability to know my children is in my hands.

*For the privacy of this individual, her name has been changed

In this journey to become Hands Free, I have really started listening. Not just listening more intently to my own inner thoughts and feelings, but listening to other people. I mean really listening.

A year ago, I am not sure I would have truly heard what this woman said. But with my Hands Free heart, I heard her words and they have been life changing. I share them with you now.

This is my story…

I recently found myself fully reclined in an oversized chair, draped in a crisp white sheet, amidst dimmed lighting and New Age relaxation music. I was about to receive a luxurious facial. It was a gift from a friend who recently had her fourth baby. She was convinced that she would not have made it through the trying last three months without my help and support, and this was her way of expressing gratitude.

As you know, I am a big fan of The Angel Impact. I was simply doing for her what others had done for me when I had a new baby. I was not expecting a lavish facial in return, but I was surely going to enjoy this generous gift.

Before the aesthetician came in, I crossed both my fingers and wished for one that did not have the gift of gab. It is not often that I have the opportunity to completely relax, let alone in a deluxe setting such as this one. The last thing I wanted to do was carry on a conversation.

A beautiful woman named Debbie* came in. After a brief introduction, she began rubbing the most delicious smelling substance on my face in gentle circular motions.

Ahhhh….at last…surreal, peaceful, relaxation.

“So Rachel, what is your occupation?”

Suddenly the small window of tranquility was closed abruptly.

I briefly considered giving her the quick, one word answer: “Mom,” or “Teacher,” or “Writer,” thereby indicating that getting to know one another was not one of my goals for this session.

But for some reason, I felt inclined to tell her about all three of my occupations. Then I explained how I was using my skills as a mom, teacher, and writer to author a book about making the most out of our time here on earth, particularly in respect to our children.

That is when Debbie said something that one year ago I would have missed. One year ago, I may have actually ignored her, simply acknowledging her words with a polite, “Uh huh.”

But things are different now. Thank God, things are different. And I listen because I have learned that you just never know when someone else has the words that you need to hear.

She said, “I just want to know my children, really know my children. That is all I want in my lifetime.”

At first it almost seemed like a silly, obvious notion to “know” my child, but after further thought, the critical concept of really knowing my child sent chills down my spine.

Because here’s the truth, the cold hard truth: the ability to really know our children is in jeopardy. Knowing our children has earned a spot on the In Danger of Extinction List.

Here is why…

In the jam packed, over-scheduled, constantly beeping, buzzing, media saturated, technology obsessed, stressed out, warp speed rat race that we call life, something is getting lost.

Personal connection is getting lost.

Human touch is getting lost.

Private conversation is getting lost.

While we are fully aware of what our children like to do, (insert mile long list of extracurricular activities here), do we really know who our children are as people?

And we, as adults, must take responsibility for the major part we play in the current deficiency in knowing, really knowing, our children.

A year ago, I was on the verge of not knowing my children (more on that in an upcoming post). Thank God, things are different now, but I still struggle. I still struggle to fight the distraction that invades my life and threatens to steal from me the only real connection that truly matters on this earth.

And to combat this struggle, I create reminders in the form of a list. I choose lists over long-winded paragraphs because they have a way of sticking with me, popping into my head at the precise moment I need them.

This list could serve as a “Hands Free Wake Up Call” or a “Hands Free Slap In the Face.” And I am not going to sit here and say that I don’t need it.

Because I do.

Every single day, I need to evaluate how I am using my precious time on this earth.

The following list helps me do just that.

This is the If You Know List, created with the help of my single, hip, and technologically savvy sister, Rebecca:

If you know exactly how many “likes” your latest Facebook status update has received in the past hour…

If you know the exact number of times your latest tweet has been retweeted…

If you know the number of TV shows your DVR exceeds the number of times you conversed with your child this week…

If you know the next 20 movies in your Netflix queue off the top of your head…

If you know the content on the TMZ blog so thoroughly that your friends regularly ask you for the latest celeb gossip…

If you know all there is to know about Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Ping, Yelp, Foursquare and Meetup…

If you know where your Kindle is at all times of the day and night…

If you know the latest status updates of your 500 Facebook friends…

If you know how to text proficiently while in the dark, with your eyes closed, with an injured finger, under the influence of alcohol…

If you know all the Twitter names of Kayne’s followers…

If you know the latest ring tones available from Lady GaGa…

If you know there is seasonal wallpaper available for your Blackberry and change it accordingly…

If you know the personal ringtones for each of your 300+ iPhone contacts…

If you know the number of times each Hollywood Wife has been married and the names of the all the MTV Teen Moms’ babies…

If you know how to discreetly check email while in church, at a wedding, or at a school function…

If you know any and all sport scores with the help of ESPN, as well as MLB, NFL and NHL digital cable sports packages…

If you know the location of your multiple phones at all times, but occasionally lose track of your children…

If you know the dangers of texting while driving, but do it anyway…

If you know you should turn off your computer and spend time with your children, but you don’t…

If you know you really shouldn’t keep the phone on the table at dinner, but you do it anyway…

If you know you could return emails after your kids go to bed, but you choose to ignore them instead…

If you know you are wasting an opportunity to converse with your child while you talk on the phone and drive, but do it anyway…

If you know that you often choose interacting with people on a screen over the living breathing human sitting next to you…

If you know all these things,

If you know half these things,

If you know one of these things,

Then your chance to know, really know, your child is being sacrificed.

Your chance to know who your child is as a person is in jeopardy.

If you know any of these things, you know less about your child than you could know.

And so now that you know…what are you going to do about it?

That is the real question here. What are you going to do about it? Yes, some of the items on the list are over the top. Some of them are laughable. But let’s step into the light of realness, shall we? We all have things that distract us from truly knowing the people we love.

Because the fact of the matter is this: We live in a world inundated with distraction, and there is room for improvement in every single one of our lives. This might not be your list of distractions, but you have one, just as I have one. And when I admit the truth, I know exactly what takes my focus, my attention, and my presence off of the people I love.

The truth hurts, but the truth heals.

Only YOU know what is distracting you from the personal connection, human touch, intimate conversation that your loved ones so desperately need and want from you.

Only YOU have the power to know your child.

Or you can simply continue to choose to know a lot about “things” that won’t matter one damn bit when your last day on this earth arrives.

*******************************************************

What distracts you from focusing on the people you love? Whether it’s external distraction or internal distraction, whether it’s technology, negative emotions, excessive spending, or self-absorption, the detrimental cost of your distraction is the same. Your loved ones are fully aware when you are not giving them 100% of yourself.

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes with your child or significant other TODAY with everything turned off, including technology, as well as wandering thoughts.

In 20 uninterrupted minutes, you can really get to know someone.

Please take a moment to give someone else the opportunity to grasp what really matters by sharing this critical message.

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Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Well said. :-) My latest distraction is Words With Friends. That game is too addicting. Fortunately, I only have it on an iPod and I don’t even own a smart phone. So, I’m limited to using it in places where I have WiFi. That’s my way of setting limits on technology – otherwise I think I could totally be one of those people who are constantly plugged in.

    • 2

      says

      Christi, thanks for sharing your own distraction and how you are able to set a limit on it. Whether it is a limit you enforce yourself or an “accidental” limit, it still serves a great purpose. Thank you for being such a faithful reader and follower of The Hands Free Revolution!!!

    • 4

      says

      Karin, thanks for being real. At least you know what distracts you…that is the first step! And if you decide to stop reading blogs, please ask Chris to fill you in on Hands Free Mama!

  2. 5

    says

    The Light Of Realness…I love it. I can remember saying over and over while coaching others at work, “Email isn’t real work. It barely reaches the level of perfunctory communication. It’s actually a distraction. Work…is real work.” Technology is a distraction on a personal level and that must be brought into the “light of realness”. Love this post!

    • 6

      says

      Lori, what an interesting take on email! We have become so dependent on it and so accustomed to it that we lose sight of the distraction that it truly is! I love the insights of my readers and take away so much from you, Lori!

  3. 7

    says

    I don’t have any children, but I’m still good friends with the boys I raised when I was a nanny. Boys… they’re both married men now. *sigh*

    I’m going to be 50 in a few months. My mother recently turned 83. How I wish she knew me. I’ve tried to teach her, tried to give her every glimpse I can, but she will never completely understand. We love each other deeply, but there is a bridge there that is definitely missing a few planks.

    I love your posts. Just love ‘em.

    • 8

      says

      I just love having a perspective other than my own, Barb. Thank you for sharing your feelings from the side of the child (in this case, grown child) about having a parent who doesn’t truly know you. Your words motivate me even more to have that connection with my daughters. Thank you for sharing and also for the lovely encouragement.

  4. 10

    Jadie says

    I read a lot of your blog today. It was a real awakening. Technology doesn’t distract me very much. I can’t find my cell half the time and the computer isn’t usually on until after ‘bed-time’. But I will admit that sometimes I am on the internet way too late. Then Crabby no sleep Mom the next day. And sometimes in a crazed desire for some outside or adult time this stay at home mother will ignore what her kids are saying. ya know when I am doing laundry or dishes or shoppping. Most the time I feel like all I say is SHHHH. Or be quiet you’ll wake the baby. I really need to ‘know’ my kids. I am going to LISTEN. I am going to try to have a distraction minimized life. I am going to try and not ignore them. I am going to try and be present when they are with me. And not have my eyes glazed over and thinking about something else. Or trying to get JUST ONE MORE THING DONE while the baby sleeps not matter if I am ignoring the ones that will be all to grown up all too fast. I know that there will e tbe distractions. I have to do laundry, I have to cook, and I have to shop. But could include them in those things. A lady at church and I were talking about or unpaid service we do. Working with youth. She asked me if I could leave the kids at home, or get a babysitter when I came to the weekly youth programs. I am proud to sa y that I said No! She was trying to convince me that they were a distraction. I am glad to say that I am sorry if my kids talked and acted human, but my kids ARE really good kids. and that they are my first priority over other people’s kids. The youth program means a lot to me. But I said to the lady. Maybe the youth can learn that family comes first. Maybe they can see that I value my kids, and when they come with me they don’t have to sit in the corner and shut up. They are free to speak to me. I don’t cast them off. they mean the most to me. And the youth need to learn that. I can help the youth learn values, and help them with their uplifiting activities. But if it interferes with teaching my kids values, or being ‘present’ when my kids are around, well then the service I am doing for the youth needs to be set aside.
    Now if I can just tune into them around the home a little more. Open my eyes and not let the home be more important then the 3 smiling faces I adore.

    • 11

      says

      Thank you for your honest and open comment here, Jadie. I can relate all too well to what you say about staying up too late and then being so grouchy the next day that I miss the moments that matter. I love your declarations that you have stated to be more present, more focused, to listen and know your kids. And I commend you for holding your ground on the volunteer issue. If you are kind enough to devote your time and energy in a volunteer position, you should be able to include your family in that service. As you pointed out, that is setting a good example for the youth and also for your own children. Thank you so much for taking time to read my posts and share your inspiring thoughts. So glad you are here!

    • 12

      says

      Jadie,
      Thank you for this comment, and thank you Rachel for this post. Jadie, your words describe me exactly. I’m praying we will both focus on the three quickly growing little ones who will one day be gone, rather than the chores/house that will always be there and always need doing.

  5. 13

    Michelle Nelson says

    This post really brought tears to my eyes… so convicting. I absolutely have my phone attached to my body at all times. I am devouring all of your posts & trying to let them really sink in… Thank you for having the courage to pursue this journey and share it with us.

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