What a “Hands Free” Summer Looks Like

Summer vacation is fast approaching here in the U.S. And while my children cannot wait to have some significant time off from school, I’ve been noticing a slight wave of angst growing in the pit of my stomach. As my requests for writing and speaking increase, I find myself wondering how I will accomplish my work while maintaining my commitment to being a present and lovingly connected parent to my children.

Because here’s the thing: When I started writing this blog 18 months ago, I made a promise to myself. I vowed to be the real deal—meaning whether I am being “Hands Free” or writing about being “Hands Free,” I promised to be open, honest, and authentic about my successes and shortcomings on this journey to grasp what really matters.

Simply stated, there is no faking “Hands Free;” there is no half-way “Hands Free.” Either I’m distracted or I’m present. Trying to mentally and emotionally exist in two places at once is like trying to live life with one hand. And I tried that for two long, draining years—it doesn’t work. I have found that I can only grasp what really matters in life with two free hands and one committed heart.

So with that said, I’ve come to a decision about summer. And I share it with you because we all have responsibilities that beg for our time, attention, and energy.

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Keep Reading

 
In this space I call “Hands Free Mama,” I write about letting go of distraction to grasp what really matters. In my life, distraction comes in two forms: external and internal. And although I began this journey to break free of technology’s grip on my life, I found that my inner critic was just as effective at robbing my “moments that matter” as my electronic devices. So in honor of Mother’s Day, I offer some healing words. It is my hope that something written in this post will quiet the inner critic living inside a woman you love. Perhaps that woman is you or the one who shares your life. 

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For the woman who savors a backwards letter in childlike scrawl and secretly hopes “liberry” and “strawbabies” will never be pronounced correctly …

For the woman who crawls on achy knees into her child’s tiny bunk bed to read stories and inhale his just-bathed scent  …

For the woman who would prefer a dandelion bouquet carried in a dirt-filled palm over a dozen red roses in a crystal vase …

For the woman who cries at the sight of her child and cannot explain why …

For the woman who feels her awkward bulges and morning breath slowly dissipate when a cherub voice says, “You’re so pretty, Mama” …

For the woman who is never at a loss for words when it comes to defending her child …

For the woman whose babies will never, ever become too heavy to carry …

If this sounds like you, keep reading.

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How to Miss a Childhood

Each minute of every day, we are presented with a choice on how we spend our moments. We can either miss the moments or grasp them. This photo was taken at a time in my life when I was missing the moments and in doing so, I was missing more than life.

By sharing my own painful truths when it comes to the distractions of the modern age, I have gained an unexpected insight. In the 18 months this blog has existed, I have been privy to a new distraction confession every single day.

Up until now, I never knew what to do with this unusual collection of painful admissions from an overly connected society. But today, in a moment of clarity, I knew. And a woman with 35 years experience as a day care provider held the key.

It came as a message in my inbox after the woman read my post “The Children Have Spoken” which included heart-breaking observations from children themselves about their parents’ excessive phone use.

As soon as I read the first sentence of the caregiver’s email, I knew this message was different than any I had ever received. The hairs on my arms stood up as I absorbed each word that came uncomfortably close to home.

It was a voice of heartache, wisdom, and urgency speaking directly to the parents of the 21st century:

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