What a “Hands Free” Fall Looks Like

It all started with an innocent glass jar filled with heavy cream.

I watched as my 9-year-old daughter shook and shook with excitement until … ta-da! Real butter! She even made a batch of toast so the whole family could try her succulent creation.

“It has no chemicals, no fake ingredients. This is not processed food; this is called REAL food,” she declared as if taping an infomercial for “The Butter Shaker 5000.”

My 6-year-old daughter needed no persuasion; her small hand, which happened to fit perfectly inside the jar, went in for another heaping spoonful. Toast was completely unnecessary.

As I watched my children enjoy the natural goodness of this simple culinary treat, I felt a tinge of discomfort. However, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why I felt such unease.

A few hours later, I discovered my open lap top computer. Posted on the screen was a PowerPoint slide show the kids had created. The title was: “How to Make Halloween Costumes For Kids.” With each click, I watched my youngest child transform from a fairy to a witch, from a “cheer girl” to a scary monster—all with a few stitches of fabric and a whole lot of creativity.

There it was again—that uncomfortable feeling. When I should have been marveling, I felt like crying.

Shouldn’t I be the one making homemade butter?

Shouldn’t I be the one making handmade costumes?

I know, I know. It is so wrong. I’m the one who just weeks ago was declaring the fabulous freedom to raise a child.

But I am human. And I live in the same world you live in—the one where afternoon snacks can resemble palm trees if you arrange the apple slices and carrot sticks just so on the colorful plate … the world where back-to-school means coordinated outfits in earthy tones with unsmudged eye glasses sitting perfectly on bright, shiny faces … the world where organizational cork boards align kitchen walls so you don’t forget the easily forgettable letter sack containing an object that starts with “C.” (Which consequently, I have discovered is an object that is virtually impossible to find at seven o’clock in the morning.)

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Remembering Sunscreen and Butterflies

I think Christy would want us to remember sunscreen … but also everyday miracles like butterflies and the feeling of a child’s hand in our own.

When I decided to share my “Hands Free” journey with an online community, I had no idea what insight this would bring me. There I was striving to grasp what really matters and it appeared, what matters most in life, right in my inbox.

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The Freedom to Raise a Child

“The way I see it isn't necessarily the way you see it. Or the way it is. Or ought to be. What's more important is that we're all looking for it and a way to see it.” -Desi Di Nardo

A few weeks prior to my youngest daughter’s 6th birthday, I asked her what kind of party she’d like to have. As one might expect from a laid-back, ukulele playing, perpetually smiling child, her party suggestions were quite ambiguous.

“I don’t care what we do, Mom. Maybe just have some food that is cooked and do something fun,” she said grinning from behind her pink spectacles.

Hmmm … I had always dreamed of a relaxed party-planning style—apparently, I was about to get my chance.

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