Where Haters Can’t Tread

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In processing our family’s upcoming move to a new state, I’ve noticed my seven-year-old daughter is unable to think of all the people she will miss all at once. Instead, she’s been experiencing a slow awareness that highlights one person at a time. It’s sad and painful and sweeps her back to the moment she heard we were moving—when tears dotted the front of her blue GAP t-shirt.

It happened the other night as she was getting out her guitar to practice her latest Taylor Swift song. My child came flying into the kitchen—and this time it wasn’t to stall her practice session. I recognized that pitifully sad look on her face—the one that said the world as she knew it was crumbling a little more.

“I’m not going to have music lessons with Mr. Andrew anymore,” she said her lip quivering slightly. Huge tears formed in her eyes as she mumbled, “There won’t be another one like him, Mama.”

“Andrew’s been your ukulele and guitar teacher since you were itty bitty. He’s one of the kindest, most patient people we know, isn’t he? I am so glad you have all these years with him.” Without thinking, I instinctively opened my arms to my child. She nestled in and fit quite perfectly despite a significant growth spurt this spring.

I studied her smooth, round face and saw two fat tears escape from the corners of her closed eyes. My daughter stood there for a moment pressing her face against my stomach. I just held her in silence, smoothing stray hairs away from her face. I didn’t have any magic words. In fact, I didn’t have any words at all.

Within thirty seconds, my daughter stopped crying. She turned and went back to the living room and picked up her guitar. She began to sing and strum with vigor. I could tell by the passion in her voice that she was going to make the most of her remaining time with Mr. Andrew. She was going to be okay.

And I just stood there taking it all in.

Because in that moment, I felt better about myself than I had in months. And it was due to one simple fact: I bring comfort to my child. In fact, I am pretty darn good at it.

And I bet you are too.

In fact, I would place the ability to comfort in the Judgment-Free Zone of parenting. I doubt many skills fall into that category but the ability to comfort does. It requires no training, no expertise, and no educational degree. It’s just something we parents do, and we have the ability to comfort our child better than anyone else.

Let’s just relish that fact for a moment.

We have the ability to comfort our child better than anyone else.

Finding an area free from judgment and instruction when it comes to raising children is a rarity today. While I’m sure you could find an article about the best way to comfort a child, it wouldn’t be like the wealth of information that exists on the “best” way to feed, discipline, or put your child to sleep, for instance.

Soothing someone you love more than life doesn’t require a manual—it just comes naturally. And lately, the fact that I bring comfort to my children in the midst of a stressful life event like moving is bringing me great peace.

You see, as my readership grows, the more susceptible I am to criticism. And lately I’ve been faulted on everything from choosing to make a living as an author to the way I punctuate my sentences. Honestly, I am relieved to have found a safety zone—a place where I do something that no one can critique—a place no one can even touch. Only I know what contentment looks like when it settles on the faces of my children in their time of fear, worry, and distress.

Each night when I lay beside with my daughters for their respective Talk Time, I study their faces while they tell me their worries. As I listen, nod, hold, and reassure, I see the fear and angst ease from their bodies.

Just look at that face. Just watch those tears dry,” I think to myself. “Just look at the way she sighs with relief when you say, ‘It’s going to be okay.’”

Suddenly, I am there: in the Judgment-Free Zone. It is my safe place … where I cannot be touched … where haters can’t tread.

I am telling you about this sacred place because of the personal messages you send me—the ones that have pain and guilt and regret etched in every single word. Even if you’re not publishing your daily struggles and past mistakes for the whole world to read, you are still open to criticism on a daily basis. I think we can all agree, it’s pretty easy to find someone eager to tell us we’re messing up our children … we’re doing it all wrong … or there is really a better way. And if those attacks aren’t coming from the outside, they may very well be coming from our inner bully on the inside.

But there is a place where internal and external criticism cannot touch us. And this place is open to you, and it’s open to me:

When your baby cries,
When your child needs you,
When your teen is in distress,
When your adult son or daughter calls you out of the blue …
You open your arms … you listen … you reassure … you show up.

Suddenly, you are there: in the Judgment-Free Zone. It is your safe place … where you cannot be touched … where haters can’t tread.

Just look.

Look at that face. Look at the peace you bring. You can comfort your child like nobody else’s business. There is no right or wrong way to comfort your child—only you know what is best for him or her.

Let’s relish that fact for a moment.

Only you know the best way to comfort your child. You are the expert. Perhaps you’ve never been called an expert. Well, you are— Comfort Expert to the Rescue. You rescue. You save the day. Your arms are best.

I don’t know about you, but I am going own that—today, tomorrow, and when in doubt.

Just look at that face—the peace, the comfort, the love.

You put it there, my friend.

You put it there.

And no one can take that away from you.

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Where is your safe place? Where is the place criticism cannot touch you, my friends of The Hands Free Revolution? Each week I am tremendously grateful for your comments, stories, and words of encouragement to me and to one another. It’s so uplifting when we realize we are not alone in our struggles. Please know that in a time of stress and uncertainty with my family’s move less than a month away, I am finding great comfort in this loving community. Thank you for being here. 



  1. 1


    I catch glimpses of this very great truth every so often but love how you put it here in a way that I can really grasp on to and hold and cherish. Yes, I can comfort them. Like nobody else can. Just by being me, their mama. And that is comforting to me that yes, it comes that naturally.
    I’m sorry for the haters. So sad that getting your message to be widely known comes with a bit of that. But know that you and your words mean so much to so many of us an that’s worth more than any hater any day.

    • 2


      Thank you, Tricia. As someone I greatly respect as a mother, writer, and human being, this loving affirmation from you fills me up to the top. Each time I write, I am acting on the callings of my heart. My prayer is to touch one life with every story I share. And when that one person says, “You touched my life today,” that provides the fuel I need to keep sharing my journey. Thank you for letting me know I touched your heart today, friend.

  2. 3

    Judy says

    WOW, just WOW! I love your blog all the time, but today you really nailed it. Parenting, as we all know, is one of those jobs that we don’t always know how well we’re doing until it’s too late. As the mother of grown children, I know that mine turned out great, regardless of whether or not I parented “correctly.” I’m sorry for the negative comments you receive, for they are certainly not deserved. Your blog is a tremendous gift to your followers. The introspection you do to write it benefits all of us, especially your own children. As a college grammar and writing teacher, I can attest to the quality and correctness of your writing. But the true strength of your blog–particularly this one–is that your willingness to open yourself up to your readers, the lovers and the haters alike, in the process of becoming an ever better mother yourself, is lighting the path in your readers’ journeys to become better mothers.
    I hope you had a glorious Mother’s Day. No one is more worthy of being honored as a mother than you. Please keep doing what you’re doing.

  3. 5

    Jeanine says

    Rachel, you are 100% right. There is no one like Mom to comfort a child. Your words resonated with me as I thought of my own son and the trials he has faced in life. Three months ago, I wasn’t able to communicate with him for a few days and he needed me in the worst way. Once we talked it all out he was fine. He just needed me once again to tell him that it would all work out and that God has a plan for his life, just like I have always told him. I could hear him relax and change his body language in our telephone conversation. I may not have done everything just right in raising him, but I know that most of it was right on. Moms can do what no one else can. I was a great listener and I think it meant the world to him. By the way, my son is 40 years old.

    Unfortunately, the world is also full of moms who didn’t step up to the plate. I am currently working with a 31 year old woman who was beaten, deprived of food, told that she was stupid on a daily basis, her mother wouldn’t let her go to school, whipped with a cat of nine tails, scolded her and put her out in the hot sun just because. And yet, she has a faith that amazes me. She is learning how to read and write for the first time in her life. I tell her all the time that I am her mom, how much I love her, and how smart she really is and she just beams.

    Our children are very blessed, but not all children are. It’s a reality in many parts of the world and it makes my heart so heavy and full of sorrow for innocent children. I have no words.

    • 6


      Thank you, Jeanine. It is important for us to remember not all children are comforted by their parents. I taught severely behavior disordered children for 10 years. Many of them were desperate for comfort and love. When I realized I could not teach some of them academics because they were so damaged, I decided to love them, just love them. In the process of putting comfort and love at the top of the curriculum that year, they learned academics! I will never forget the strides they made with love and encouragement. As human beings, I believe the children of the world are OUR children and if we can comfort and love someone who isn’t getting that from his/her parents, we should. Thank you for loving the 31-year-old woman who now knows a mothers love for the first time in her life because of YOU. Thank you for inspiring me today and reminding me to look for those in need of comfort and love. God bless you.

  4. 7

    Martha Farnes says

    Very well expressed! I am a Grandma these days but am thankful that I can offer a judgment free zone to both my daughters and my grandchildren. And when I am criticized, I will turn to my Heavenly Father who sees me as his precious treasure! His love is unconditional !

  5. 9

    Kathy says

    All I want to say is thank you. Thank you from me, and I’m sure many other moms who need this. You are a blessing to many. Those who criticize are just dealing with their own insecurities, but not in a positive way. I wish you didn’t have to experience that. Just go to that place where all of us hold you up with gratitude. Blessings and peace always.

    • 10


      Thank you, Kathy. This loving community is truly a safe-haven for me. If it weren’t for those who step into the light of realness with me and say, “Me too,” I am certain I wouldn’t be able to share many of the difficult truths I share.

  6. 11

    Kristy says

    Thanks for this post. It is so timely!! Last week I had two strangers criticize me in public about my parenting. The first, I was in a hurry at a store and kindly asked if another checker was available as the woman in front of me had a lot of returns and things to buy. I explained that I needed to get my son on time. The woman in front of me turned around and exclaimed…”you left him in the car!!!” No, I didn’t lady, but thanks for assuming the worst. He was just at preschool and needed to be picked up on time.

    The second experience was a little more painful. I’ve been really trying to work at being a hands free mama. I was waiting for public transit and had been waiting quite a while with my 3 year old son. I finally pulled out my phone to check and see how long the next shuttle would be. I saw I had missed a call from my doctor who I knew had some test results for me. I listened to her voicemail and went to put my phone away. A woman, from her car yelled out to me as she drove by: “hey, lady! Put your phone down and pay attention to your SON!” I felt so judged in that moment. He was in no danger, standing right next to me, actually holding on to my purse, hanging from my arm and eating tootsie rolls. I think this hands free revolution is so important, but I hate that some people take it to be their responsibility to be the technology police. Maybe because I’ve been working so hard on it myself, the criticism from this stranger hit me and I found myself holding back tears.

    Anyway, I appreciate the way you inspire me to be a better mom and for the changes I have made because of your writings. I don’t care how you punctuate your sentences! 🙂

    • 12


      Oh Kristy, I am so sorry. What you describe is painful to read. When we are judged it hurts. And when we are judged by people who don’t even know us or the situation we are in, it really hurts. But there is something positive here: By sharing your story, you have raised awareness. Perhaps those who are quick to judge will think about your words today and keep opinions to themselves. I know you have made me think about how I want to treat others. Thank you for that.

  7. 13

    Erin says

    Thank you for this…..it bothers me to no end when people try to comfort my child when im stabding right there and they wont give her back.

  8. 14

    Dawn says

    Thank you. I really, really needed to hear that this morning. My child is the worst sleeper and the whole world (or maybe just my inner bully) thinks I’m doing something wrong. This morning I read your article while holding my sleeping boy and instead of fretting I’m looking at his peaceful face. I did that. I gave him that peace. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

  9. 16


    I know I am beloved. I know my sons are as well. I find such comfort and joy in that. I know, beyond a doubt, that you are beloved as well. Do I mean by God? Maybe. Do I mean by your family? Maybe. Do I mean that you are beloved because you feel such deep and never-ending love? Yes, that. You are loved because you love.
    I never miss a post of yours and you never miss with your posts. My very best to you in this challenging time. You shine so brightly, Rachel, remember that. The shimmering is love…

    • 17


      Tears. Just tears. Bill, you have walked beside me all these years on this journey–never once leaving my side–even when I have a bad post or a bad day. I have no doubt you were heaven sent to be my encourager–a loving encourager with an unmatched skill for making comments become masterpieces. I am thankful, so very thankful, for you.

  10. 18

    Amanda says

    There is something so right and peaceful about being able to comfort my son. It’s a little bit of magic that parents have.

    I stumbled onto one of those mommy confessional sites, and it was sad. I love reading your blog and others who are honest and heartfelt. It’s unfortunate that there are the opposite posts, and people can find information to support their pain. I often think about writing a blog, but I don’t think I have a tough enough skin for the negative comments. Thank you for writing yours.

  11. 19

    Bärbel says

    A Mamas heart is so big an the arms are so wide, there is place to hold and comfort her kids, the Kids of the kids and the loved ones of the kids. It is absolutely great to be am Mama!!

    An I like to read your Posts 🙂

  12. 20


    Hi rachel

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, I rarely read it without a tear in my eye. I’ve just started your book too, you have been a huge inspiration and I can’t believe you receive negative comments about your choices or writing, so I just wanted to say that I love your work, I share it and recommend it to everyone, please don’t ever let any negative comments stick, you’re amazing!!! X

  13. 21

    prago says

    I love your blog and I loved the way you handled the situation. Sometimes, comforting your child is the best thing for them.
    But I can’t help and wonder if these guitar lessons are supervised? It would probably be a good idea to see where your daughter is coming from and ask her what she meant by -There won’t be another one like him.
    We live in a world where no-one, no matter how close, can be trusted.
    I am a health-care provider and I have seen kids who have been in bad situations…it has made me paranoid about even hiring a nanny or a sitter.

    A concerned mom.

    • 22


      Thank you for your concern, Prago. This is very important for us all to think about when we allow others to teach our children in 1:1 situations. To ease your concerns about my daughter, I sit in on every lesson. It is my favorite 30 minutes of each week. I get to hear two people with a gift for music sing and play their instruments together. The music academy in which my daughter takes lessons is part of our church and all instructors have gone through thorough background checks. I am grateful you brought this important topic up as many children will be attending summer camps in a few weeks.

      • 23

        Prago says

        Thank you for your reply. I am so glad to hear that. If only more parents would be as vigilant…..
        You have most definitely put my mind at ease. The best to you and you family!

        • 24


          Great point Prago. I am so glad this was brought up and yes, Rachel, the kids will be off to camps! I don’t care if it is your uncle, best friend, grandfather, or church group. I always have my radar on! I am careful with new situations, don’t jump in just because “it is a church group” and always keep an eye out. Thank you for catching that comment and bringing it up, as now so many will read this and think about this topic.

  14. 25

    Kenna S. says

    When I was reading this my inner bully was still trying to criticize me. My 3 year old son, since a very early age, has not wanted comforted when he gets hurt. He runs into another room and doesn’t want anyone to talk to him, hug him, or even see him. For a while he would even go and get his favorite teddy bears to make him feel better. “He chooses the bears over you, you must be doing something wrong” my inner voice would say. The really funny thing is that he acts very much like I do when I get hurt or upset. But while reading today’s post I was able to silence that voice because I realized we all comfort differently. Just because my son doesn’t want a hug and a kiss to make physical hurts go away, it doesn’t mean I’m not his comfort zone in many other ways. Reading books, singing songs, and rubbing his back before he drifts off to sleep. While he does let my husband do those things occasionally, it never goes as smoothly as when I do. The way he shouts “MOMMY, you’re home!” at the first sight of me, even if I’ve only been gone for a 20 minute walk. There are many, many more and many, yet different, ways I am my 8 month old daughter’s comfort zone as well. Thank you for helping me see that no one else is or will ever be what I am to my kids.

  15. 27


    PLEASE tell your daughters that the move is an adventure and that they will be surprised at how great things really end up being in their new home and community. (Tell her a mom is speaking for her girls, ages 11 and 14) My girls were entering grades first and fourth. A new state, new city, home much different then our last (64 acres in the mountains to a suburb of St. Louis, MO) and in the end we are all very happy with where we “landed”. Most important, if you have your close family unit–you, your husband and the girls–you can take on anything. 🙂 That is all you really need. Our girls are thrilled with their schools, the opportunities, the community, church, and so many new friends. Also, I use the term “landed” because this was not just our choice. We thought our life was meant to be in VA. We loved it there. But our plans our not ours–they are God’s plans. God knew where we needed to be. He also blessed us with our health, each other, and extended family and friends. We are so blessed to be where we are. God is good and his plans are good. Please share with your girls as I speak for my girls who went through this same situation. And YES to your comfort post! I love it when my daughter thanks me for “helping her talk about it” and “make things better”. I feel like I have done my job that day and it feels good. Like if that was the only thing good I did that day it was enough. 🙂

    • 28

      Jessica says

      I totally agree. My family moved from a suburb of STL to an extremely small town many hours away, right before my eighth grade year (I’m 29 now). I remember that transitional period vividly, but in the process I found that both cities had their pluses and minuses. I dreaded moving and cried often. Now I wouldn’t dream of going back. This is where my family is, my support, my comfort…that’s all that really matters. A place is just a place…home is where the heart is. I wish you and your family peace as you begin the transition.

  16. 29

    Christi says

    Beautiful entry today! Yes, I too am great at comfort. I love to hug, kiss, snuggle and try to make my daughter feel better. And considering she’s a bit prone to drama, being patient enough to hug her when I want to tell her to get over it is a feat some days! Thanks for reminding me of something that I am good at doing (most days)! And as soon as I can understand my 3 year old, I look forward to understanding her and listening to her more.

  17. 30

    Juliette says

    Thank you for this heartfelt story and enlightenment.
    You are a firefly that shines brightly and I appreciate this message so much today, I really find it valuable to help with some self-realizations that are oh so timely. Keep on shining!

  18. 31

    Maggie says

    Thanks for this post. We are readying our 7-year-old (and our 5- and 1-year-olds) for a cross-country move as well. I have spent a decent bit of time beating myself up for stressing my oldest child (he tends to be anxious and dislikes transitions). I love the way you describe just BEING THERE for your child. I’m learning that I don’t need to “fix” or “solve” the sadness and anxiety that my child is experiencing. But what I can do is simply be there for him. Reassure him, and hold him.
    I feel less alone for reading this, and I feel like I am enough and I could even find strength in these hard moments by being present for my kiddos. Thanks!

  19. 32



    What you did for your daughter when you simply opened your arms in silence was so powerful! You sent such a strong message of trust that she knows what she needs to get through difficult moments like that – a safe place to shed a few tears – then she’s back, better than ever. Then you shared the same message of trust with your readers – that they can trust themselves to know what their children need – and they also are back and better than ever, seeing themselves as the gifts they are to their families. You are indeed a comfort expert. Thank you for sharing your gifts.

  20. 33

    Jen Pera says

    Hi Rachel,
    I have been reading your blog for quite some time, and it always resonates with me. This one, with the idea of offering comfort goes so much farther than even just with my kids. I notice that when I do offer comfort to my 2 boys (3 and7), and they physically collapse in my arms because they feel safe, that I KNOW in my heart that I am doing a good job as their Mom. They feel loved and they feel safe. No one can take that away. And what I also noticed is that as I offer comfort to the 2 people that mean the most to me, I get something out of it too. I find that I’m quicker to offer comfort to my pets in a thunderstorm, to other Moms at school, to clients at work, to friends….. the more I give of myself, the more i want to give. So thank you for reminding me that giving comfort– in it’s many forms — is always appreciated and makes me feel good too.

    • 34


      Jen, this is so important, so true. We have the gift to comfort all beings and when we do, our heart is comforted too. Thank you for the reminder. Now off to comfort my cat who knows something is up with empty boxes in random places and prospective buyers coming in and out of the house.

  21. 35


    Here. Here is where we come to be judge-free. While we may find it odd others would reflect their own inner-turmoil via criticisms in this space, it can only come from their living too many years under a harsh light. This space of love and acceptance is too bright. Maybe they think, “Surely this cannot be true”, and it is their job to show it’s cracks. And therein lies the rub: cracks are welcome here too.

    Keep on, Keepin’ On. And as a community, we can pray for the haters. Only love will fix that madness.

    Today, I walked into our little apartment, and I opened up the back door, and I can hear the wind and the birds, and there is so much to love about this new place. I wish you wonder, adventure, and resilience. Moving is hard work. Sending love.

    • 36


      Thank you, Lori–my friend whose known me since I was a little girl with a notebook and a dream. You have put it in such a way that it all makes so much sense. Only Love Today. Even for those who try to bring us down. I would expect such a treasure of insight from you, my wise, big-hearted friend with a talent for making words come to life.

  22. 37

    Lloyd Neale says

    Without question Rachael you continue to comfort me every time I read your powerful messages that are ALWAYS written from the heart. God’s continued blessings to your family and you. Remember to remind those precious daughters, “When God closes a window (like moving to another state) he always opens a window of opportunity.”

  23. 38

    Mary Rowell says

    In the midst of all the busy-ness, reading something like this is a balm to the soul. Sometimes it feels like I can’t do anything right (especially with my teenage daughter), but what you said is so true. Even though she is like an impenetrable brick wall and she keeps her worries and fears locked up tight, sometimes I still get a tiny glimpse that she still needs that comfort. Helping her through things these days is a guessing game. I follow clues; tiny, little clues that I find here and there. I draw conclusions and I offer tidbits of advice that I hope she needs. And every once in a while, I can see that I have helped. And sometimes she opens up a tiny crack and shares something and I see glimpse of my little girl again. She is trying so hard not to need me. She needs to do this, to grow up and be independent. But I know, looking at my own mama, that you are right. To this day, no one comforts like my own mother. And she will still need me, sometimes. And no one can ever take that away. Thank you; I needed to know that.

    • 39


      I love this. Yes, we are good at comforting our children because we are observe and notice things about our children that no one else does. As I read your comment, I thought we are detectives at times–looking for clues on how our precious ones are really doing and how we can help them make it through the difficult situations in life. Thank you for sharing this beautiful perspective.

  24. 40

    Carol says


    I’ve been reading your posts for a while and they constantly challenge me “where I am.” I’ve been delighted to know that you are an Alabamian (I am, too) , and wherever you take that, it will be cherished. There’s something about us syrupy girls. We blaze trails like nobody’s business. 🙂 Wherever you go, I pray for God to be with you and protect you and your sweet family. Take care and thanks again!

  25. 41

    Cami says

    thank you for reminding me the good things about me. I am definitely not perfect but I am striving to be better for my daughter, and for myself. I dislike myself when I criticize or get impatient with my 3 year old, but then I remember you’re post about your daughter and how she takes her time to appreciate the beauty around her and I apply it immediately. it has saved me! I now get up earlier so that I’m not rushing her out the door, we have time to look at flowers or bugs on the way to the car. We have time for her to “try” to put her car seat buckle on herself. I try very hard to remember “only love today”, there are times I struggle and lose my temper but I am getting better. I have put my phone down when with her, or anyone for that matter. I try to only check emails at night when everyone is sleeping, and I notice how much happier I am and how irritated I get with other people on their phones. They are just so distracted and are missing out on life. I cannot thank you enough for your encouragement. I recently bought myself a necklace that says “I am enough”, as a reminder that I am enough for my daughter to just be there for her, be in the moment, and to be her comfort and safe place.

  26. 42

    Jean V Dubois says

    Rachel, when i was spending my first career in the Marine Corps my most reinvigorating activity was lying down next to my two daughters one at a time and telling or reading them a story when they went to bed. imagination took flight and silliness ensued and I could tell when it was time for them to close their eyes they were sated with love and warmth and comfort and safety. I see my granddaughters with mom and dad and I see that same sense of “all’s right with the world” when they are in their arms. But grandpa comes a close second – so when we visit both the grandgirls (now 10 and 6) snuggle into bed together to hear grandpa’s stories. Their adventures battling the terrible dragon El Fuerte which led to the name of their band Flaming Dragon Poop. The sound of a child’s carefree laughter is fuel for the parent’s self image. And as for nitpickers and naysayers in reference to your work – we’ll send El Fuerte after them.

  27. 43

    Gretchen says

    The words “inner bully” really caught my attention. Thank you for putting together the perfect words to describe my biggest critic. You have made realize more and more that my inner bully has pushed me around a little too much and it’s time to do something about it! Thank you!

    • 44

      Tracy says

      I hear ya, Gretchen. My “inner bully” has been trying its best for years to convince me that I am not good at comforting my children, and I have been believing the lie. Time to stop listening to that hater, and start believing I am the Mom that my children need. Thanks for the much-needed encouragement, Rachel!

  28. 45


    Oh I so needed this. I’ve wondered how high-profile writers handle the haters. I had a recent post go viral an it was awful. The hateful emails an messages on my Facebook page made me want to forget this whole writing thing. I turned inwards towards my family and focused on the people that are truly important and that helped so much. Reminding myself that I’m good at what I need to do most is something I need to do more often. Thank you and I’m sorry about the haters. It’s so hard to not let them get to you, I can only imagine dealing with them all the time.

  29. 46

    Kim says

    I read your posts constantly and they are such an inspiration on my journey…. as I sit here at work with tears gathering in my eyes, I am reminded of a recent event, similar to yours that makes my heart sing. My children just went through the dreaded year-end tests at school that count for a large part of their grade. My son (8, 3rd grade) has been talking about this since the beginning of school as this was his first year to take these tests. As the tests got closer, the school counselor held sessions for the children to teach them ways to cope with test anxiety. One strategy was to write on a small note card those things in your life that would calm you. My son wrote his favorite things at the top of the list – legos, video games, Minecraft, and in the middle of the list, he simply wrote “My Mom.” When I found the card in his notebook, I didn’t know immediately what it was. I asked him about it later and he nonchalantly told me what the list was for – to calm him during his testing. He never said anything about what was on the list, but I knew. That is a moment that I will cherish forever. Thank you for putting yourself out there and reminding us what is most important.

  30. 47

    crystal says

    I am so thankful that you chose to make a living as an author – because you have such a gift!! Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us! I am always blown away, encouraged, and inspired after reading your posts. I love wearing my Hands Free t-shirt so I can remind myself of what truly matters and share the Hands Free message 🙂

  31. 48


    I love how your posts are so often perfectly timed with what I’m going through at the moment (and I have a feeling I’m not alone in that)! There’s so much we could ‘do better’, but the one thing we can’t improve is just showing up with our specific presence. When we do that, we offer comfort and solidarity in our own way.

    When I lived at L’Arche, there was one member of our household who had a profound gift of peace. When I felt sad or stressed, just sitting with him helped bring back a sense of calm … and I wasn’t the only one. Everyone on our house team admitted to doing the same thing – when we felt lost, we’d seek out this one person.

    This man, who the world would consider profoundly disabled, was able to offer a tremendous gift, just by being himself. It’s something I’ve carried with me ever since – that our ability to offer comfort and solace is inherent. It doesn’t depend on all our obvious abilities, like being able to speak beautifully or sing or dance … in fact, sometimes it shines most brightly when all the externals are stripped away.

    Wishing you all the best with your move! xoxo

  32. 49

    Suzanne says

    Thanks for those kind and generous words, especially today and in the days past and to come, when my daughter father and his new fiancé think they know my child better than me. I carried her and gave birth to her and for the longest, while her father was deep in addiction, cared for her alone. No one will ever know her better and I’m glad that there are others out there that think like I do. So thank you for the words of encouragement to continue to love my daughter and be there for her.

  33. 50


    I used to think the world was more black and white. The older I get, the more I see gray. What a comfort to know that in at least this area of my life, the result of my comfort is clear cut!! When my children beam with pride over my praise, stop their sniffling with my hugs, and melt into me when I profess my love, there is no question of the profound role I play in their lives. As a writer, I try to prepare myself for the criticism, but that is a hard job. Thank you for another lovely reminder!

  34. 51

    Courtney Franklin says

    Shame on the haters. You rock, Rachel!!! All of your imperfection & unwillingness to change to please the people that don’t matter make you so beautiful & admirable. You inspire me, & your blog/book are godsends for me.

  35. 52

    Michelle says

    Your blog is beautiful. You truly have a gift. Thank you.

    My oldest has an attachment disorder, so feeling comforted by me is very, very difficult and rare. It is so intensely painful for both of us. Mother’s Day week has made that pain and grief especially intense because I know he doesn’t trust me. It’s hard to quiet the inner bully and not feel like a total failure as a mother. What comes naturally to most mothers (conceiving, bonding, comforting) has been a huge challenge. But this post strangely give me hope that it is possible. I do catch glimpses that he is comforted by me. And I’m willing to put forth the effort to keep trying.

    Please keep writing!

  36. 54

    Colleen Shannon says

    Thank you. I always cry when I read your posts. But I always feel reassured that I am doing the best I can and that it’s going to be ok.
    Don’t listen to haters.

  37. 55

    Kate says

    Absolutely lovely Rachel. Thank you so much for this message + for so many others you’ve shared. It makes my heart sing to recognise something I’m an expert at 🙂 I’ve pinned a happy message across my kitchen cupboard, it reads: “Comfort Expert to the Rescue!” 🙂 You’re the best x

  38. 56

    Amy says

    I’ve never taken the time to think about this from my own girl’s perspectives, but I do know that from my own, even at age 43, when something isn’t going right and my own Mama answers her phone, just hearing her voice reminds me, a child, that I am loved and safe still, too. Thank you for helping me appreciate this full circle moment.

  39. 57

    Amy says

    I look forward to your blog showing up in my inbox each week. It always strikes a chord and brings tears to my eyes. I’m so sad to hear you are the victim of nasty haters, but I promise you the majority of your followers will ALWAYS keep you in the judgment free zone. You are such an inspiration to strangers everywhere, and that is a unique gift that I wish I possessed! Thank you for doing what you do…you make me want to be a better mom.

  40. 58

    Shannon says

    Thank you so much for changing my life. I have read your blog for many months and try my best to soak up the words for my children. Everything you say, if a person can hear it, will only help to enrich and improve your life with your children and your family. I am sad for the haters that don’t hear the message. I hope that someday they will hear it and realize, for themselves and their children, how unimportant so many things in our world are and how horrible it is for our children to get caught up in those frivolous or hateful things instead of the important ones- like love for one another. Only love today Rachel!! Especially for the haters because they need it most 🙂

  41. 59

    Gwen Long says

    Thank you for your openness, even in the face of criticism. You are doing warrior’s work and I appreciate your willingness to stay standing and keep advancing. Thank you.

  42. 60


    While I REALLY appreciate the topic of you blog today….I want to focus on something that really struck a cord with me. That is the fact that you are receiving more criticism now that you have a larger audience. There is nothing I can say that will make it better for you, I know that. We women tend to dwell on the one person who doesnt like us instead of the 100’s that love us to pieces. But I just wanted to pass on a simple saying that I learned when I was on a journey to heal my love for myself. Whenever I felt that others were trying to bring me down….I would remember

    HURT PEOPLE will HURT PEOPLE send them LOVE, . When someone seems to intentionally be trying to bring me down, I simply (easier said than done) remember that they must be hurting and I am not the source or cause of their anger…..they are. People who hurt inside will try to bring you down. I appreciate that you are staying strong. There are so many MORE women out there who you are helping. I hope you know that!!

    Thank you for what you do.

  43. 61


    I don’t feel like I’m bringing comfort to anyone today. So reading this reminded me that I do, have done and will continue to do so. Thank you.

  44. 62

    Sharon says

    I loved reading this today…I had this realization last night. My only child, my 19 yr old son, left for Army Basic Training today. Sunday night I had to drop him off at a hotel and this morning about 3 AM he would board a flight for literally, the other side of the country. Last evening we were allotted time for dinner went together and afterward…his hug was a little tighter, he held on a little longer…and a few hours later I received a text that he was in put in charge of printing boarding passes for the other recruits because he has been to the airport before and the other recruits had not ever flown. He seemed apprehensive because they were dropping him in the new portion of the airport where he was unfamiliar, and then he finally called me. I reassured him that he had been to the airport and flown alone dozens of times, printing a few more boarding passes wouldnt be much trouble and he would do fine, and that I would text him a photo of the layout of the new building at the airport. He seemed more confident and hung up the phone. A few moments later I received a text “Thank you Mom- I feel better now– just thanks <3 "….. and at 3 Am…I got an other text " I love you so much mom, I will miss you"…….I heard it and replied…a light banter while he waited to board his plane…. his last text to me was "I'm glad my text woke you up–thanks for waking up"………. and I realized… a text, a hug a word of confidence…even at 19 years old and off to make a new adventure for himself…I'm still his comfort and I'm still good at that.– and for all the mistakes I've made….I'm happy I was able to comfort him, happy he still looks to me for that "safe" feeling.– Such a a timely post for me…Thank You!

    • 63


      Wow. This is so beautiful. You have brought happy tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for sharing. I love that we never get too old or too mature for our mother’s comfort and assurances. A heartfelt thank you to your son for protecting us. I am grateful to you, too.

    • 64


      I’m in tears reading your post Sharon. There is nothing else quite like the love our boys have for their moms, is there. You sound like a truly amazing mom and you have a young man to be very very proud of. God Bless and keep you both.

  45. 65

    Lina says

    Dear Rachel,

    What a wonderful post. Please don’t take this as a judgement but as a compliment because not all Mom’s are able to comfort their children that easily. I know this from both sides of that fence. =0)

    I think it is most wonderful that you are able to comfort your children. I am thankful that now that my youngest is grown she calls me to calm her down. The same child that wouldn’t let me within ten feet of her when she was small if she had gotten hurt…. It is such a beautiful gift to be allowed to do it now. Perhaps I did something when she was very small that made it unsafe for her, I don’t know, but it took a while before we could bond that way. It was very nice (sounds funny) when she was sick and she couldn’t help but let me comfort her. That was always beautiful.

    Thanks for awakening the memories of love with your post.


  46. 67


    This is such a lovely, encouraging post.
    As a special education teacher I agree that love and comfort come before everything else. Kids have to feel safe and comfortable being themselves before any academic break throughs will occur. I teach kids in the inner city and they are missing so much, but just a little bit of love and kindness goes a long way. As the mom of a 9 month old, your post was just what I needed today. Much love to you!

  47. 68


    My heart aches for you as you suffer those people who think it their job to critique your life and choices. Be it how you write or make a living or anything else. YOU are a rich blessing to all with a heart to hear it. Also, I love love love the structure of your sentences! xoxoxoxo
    A Grateful Reader

  48. 69


    Thank you. My toddler is challenging me every day lately…she’s barely 2. She doesn’t want to get dressed, eat, go to bed, but even after that she still wants Momma’s hugs and kisses. That comforts me. I write down something about every day about her. Not long. But the first 2 years flew by and I couldn’t remember the milestones big and small. So in Jan, I started writing a daily note in an app on my phone. Gives me perspective at the end of hard days. Thank you for this reminder. Love your message always.

  49. 70

    Jill Smart says


    I get so much out of your posts, but this one moved me to tears. As a working mom, I often feel like I can’t, or don’t, give my children the time and attention they need. Last week I was jolted out of my busyness by appendicitis and spent a few days in the hospital. Now that I am home recovering from surgery, I feel like I can give myself permission to linger a bit longer with my kids. Last night my 10-year-old daughter and I spent two hours working on a school project together, then spent a long time reading a book together before bed. It was precious time, and the sweet excitement on her face as we worked showed me that this was exactly where I needed to be, and that nothing else mattered. We laughed and cuddled, and she went to bed HAPPY and at peace. You reminded me that I can give her that like no one else can. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your wise words and for sharing your gift of writing. And maybe the punctuation police ought to spend more time finding joy instead of fault. Your grammar and punctuation are lovely, in my opinion. 🙂

  50. 71

    Kristin says

    It makes me sad to hear that YOU, of all people, are receiving negative comments. Just doesn’t make sense to me. I guess I should not be surprised, comes with the territory I suppose. I’ve been learning about the work of Brene’ Brown (and will begin her book after I finish yours). She described in an interview how she felt when she began to receive such comments, as her audience grew. She termed them, “Twitter thugs”, which I thought was a good description.
    Know that you are doing WONDERFUL work for SO MANY of us (the majority I believe). You are brave and most importantly, honest! I wish you luck with this housing move, I imagine it is incredibly stressful for all of you.

  51. 72

    Lily says

    Dear Rachel: Thank you sharing your words with the world especially me. Yes, I am good at comforting and I need to acknowledge that I may be good in other areas. I hope the negativity you receive will never stop you from writing because you have a gift.

  52. 73


    What a great post. I am a mother of teens and as my kids grow, so do their concerns. And as the concerns get more complicated I am realizing I often don’t have the answers. But here’s the thing, I don’t have to have the answers. I just need to listen, reassure and show up. That is what they need the most from me. What a relief! I am sorry you are having to deal with criticism and naysayers. A most difficult part of your very public work I am sure.

  53. 74

    Claud says

    Thank you for the credit you give yourself and therefore the credit and recognition you give to those who are lucky enough to read your words. Remember you are making a difference…a good positive and sometimes truly awesome difference to people who you may never meet. For those that hurt you, may there be many many more that heal and give huge hugs:) Continue to take care of yourself and hug those you love most.

  54. 76

    Christine P says

    Your blog is amazing. Your words are so honest and so raw…please cast away the negative and continue to be and write who you are. As a Mamma, I sometimes feel that my ability to comfort my child is the ONLY thing I can do right. I question most everything else, but rarely question my abilities in this department…maybe it’s because when my girls need me they call for me first or maybe it’s because I can immediately see the positive effect of my words or my actions.

  55. 77

    Tammy says

    Thank you for this. As my daughter cried tonight about feeling left out not having good friends, how her teacher did not like her, I was able to just sit and listen. I read your post earlier this week and I knew my only job in this moment was to hold her, tell her I was sorry and comfort her. She didn’t need me to tell her all the ways her statements didn’t seem right to me, or list off the friends she did have. I just was able to hug her, be there for her and let her know I heard her. Thank you for your blog which helps me be a better hands on mom daily!

  56. 79


    Yet another gift from you. Thank you for this. You nailed it. There are days when I feel like a failure, when I feel lost, when I feel scared. And then poof – that disappears because a child comes running, tears in eyes and needs a hug. MY hug. Not any hug, just MINE. And I relish it immensely. You have just perfectly explained why and suddenly, I feel like a good enough mom, more than good enough. I have a superpower – to comfort my child in a way no one else can. I am feeling pretty darn confident and lucky right now. Thank you for the clarity and strength to see this.

    • 80


      I love the way you expand on something I write and make it even better. You are such a gifted writer and it comes from that amazing perspective of yours. I cannot WAIT for your book to come out!!!!!

  57. 81

    Julia Kurskaya says

    Wiping my tears… Oh, how grateful I am to you for pointing out this safe place. It has always been there but it went unnoticed. I’m so happy to find it. And it feel so wonderful to be there. You are the best!

  58. 82

    Peggy says

    This brings tears to my eyes-keep up the loving part on your blog-love is missing in this world.

  59. 83

    Tanya Offerdahl says

    I save your blog posts. They are like presents waiting for me to open. I can’t read them every week sometimes because I am afraid of my own truths I discover in each of your posts. I cry when I read each one, not because I feel bad but because I ALWAYS feel better. You give a gift in each post of letting us forgive ourselves as parents, or finding a way to realize we are doing a good job. I loved and needed to read this post today. I read them at random times and it is always the exact right moment when I read each one! Comforting my child is something I do well and very well…but I never said that out loud until you wrote it. Instinctively I knew it but know I can say it. Thank you for your gift of writing and reaching so many people ! You are amazing!

  60. 84

    Sara says

    Thank you for this post and every post. We are starting to prepare for a cross country move with two young children and although we are excited. I stay awake for hours at night worried about how my children will adapt and how taking them from all they know will affect them.
    Reading this was an awesome reminder that I need to remember the power of me and that I need to step back and be their comfort and we will get through our move.
    Thank you again!

  61. 86

    Kathleen says

    I am reading this while holding a sick, sick baby and I am so thankful to you for reminding me that I do comfort my children well even if I don’t do anything else well. What a gift! Thank you!

  62. 87


    I could be sending this comment late. I just discovered this website yesterday. I read a few articles and I cried because I am as guilty as charged, and have been struggling with it and trying to change. Yesterday for the first time I was able to be patient with my daughter and just as you had said in one of your blogs, I looked into her face and saw the fear and she already started to come up with a lie to save herself. I assured her I was not going to punish her so she told me the truth. Even though I lost it at dinner since she didn’t want to eat but I kept on remembering to be a good mother. Thank you very much. You are the instrument God sent to me. It is surely never late to change and I will no longer feel hopeless. God bless you abundantly.


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