I talk most often about how this Hands Free journey is changing me. But today I am going to talk about the changes taking place in the one who stands beside me. Because having the one that stands beside me sharing this journey is creating changes that are powerful and permanent.
I am hoping that by the end of this post, you might be inspired to reach out with this message to someone you love.
I began writing about my Hands Free awakening long before I told anyone about it. When I was finally ready to show someone the beginnings of my Hands Free writings, I gave them to my husband, Scott.
He was extremely supportive and complimentary. He said all the things I hoped he would say. The next morning, he took the girls on their usual Daddy-Daughter Saturday adventure. When he came home, he had something to tell me. I could see it on his face. When we had a quiet moment together, he looked into my eyes.
“You know that line you wrote, ‘No matter how much she wants to, needs to, or would love to, my child cannot kiss a moving target.’?” He asked.
He was referring to a line I wrote in the blog post entitled “What I Would Have Missed.” It was one of my favorite lines; one of my most powerful revelations thus far. I find myself reciting those words at some point every day.
I nodded, and he continued, “I thought about that all day. It made me really focus on everything the girls did and said. I didn’t want to just be there…I wanted to BE there.”
He then shared with me some of the meaningful Hands Free experiences he had that day. I was astonished. My husband has always been my role model of “living in the moment.” This is the man who never once looks at his Blackberry or computer the moment he walks in the door. This is the man who has never once placed the priorities of his demanding job above his family. This is the man who lives spontaneously, making us laugh, relax, celebrate, and remember that every day is a gift.
This man was telling me that even he was able to take something worthwhile from my writing and use it to be an even more present and focused father.
I felt a warm rush of unexpected happiness wash over me. I was excited about the possibilities of this news. I was thrilled to discover that what I was experiencing on this Hands Free journey was not exclusive to me. But what made tears of joy spring to my eyes was the anticipation for what was to come for my family. Suddenly I had a Hands Free Partner. I was not alone in my desire to grasp what truly matters during my time on this earth.
I am thankful to report that the Hands Free Team of Rachel & Scott immediately flourished.
I thought it might be helpful to describe the simple, yet powerful ways we partner to bring Hands Free experiences into our family’s life…
He regularly creates ways to get outside and enjoy nature and fresh air with our daughters. I assist in bundling everyone up, securing the ponytails, spotting interesting clouds and cleverly hidden bird nests.
I research visits to new and unexplored area parks. He offers to navigate and bring the snacks.
He creates Easy Bake Oven recipes (from scratch, if I might add) with the girls. I serve as the taste-tester and encourager for their recipe risk-taking.
I sit with my youngest daughter as she practices her ukulele. He follows up by being her “student” as she teaches him how to play.
He spontaneously announces we should all go see the family movie that just came out at the theater. I throw on a hat and grab the movie times.
I twirl and sing to our youngest daughter at our gym’s indoor pool. He races our seven-year-old swim team-loving daughter up and down the length of the pool.
He hoists our littlest daughter onto his shoulders for a family walk on an unusually balmy winter day. I hold hands with our oldest child as we walk along side.
He plans movie night with mattress on the floor, a mountain of pillows, hot chocolate and popcorn. I cuddle beside them watching three breathing chests rise and fall in unison knowing I will remember this moment forever.
Together my Hands Free Partner and I reap the rewards of these simple acts that merely require putting aside distraction and focusing on what truly matters.
On these occasions, the most precious words have been spoken. My four favorites are:
“I love my family!” -Said at the highest arc of a playground swing beneath a clear blue sky
“This is so fun! Can we do it again tomorrow?” -Said among the cuddly blankets and heaping pillows of “Movie Night”
“Dad can do anything.” -Said in awe among the winter breeze of a January day
“I love what is happening to our family.” -Said in a Christmas love letter that is now taped to my bathroom mirror
By going Hands Free together, we are experiencing a greater degree of connection that could not be accomplished alone.
And by going Hands Free together, we are experiencing the aspect of accountability that could not be accomplished alone.
When expressing my gratefulness in prayer for this newfound partnership, a couple that sat next to us at a restaurant often comes to mind.
While waiting for their food to arrive, they both were fixated on their prospective iPhones. With the level of attention they paid to these devices, you would have thought the answer to a long and prosperous life was about to be flashed across the screen.
Sadly, we all know the answer to life-long happiness was not going to be found on the screen of an iPhone that night, or any night, for that matter. But there is a chance that happiness could have been found between the two people who sat at that table.
I couldn’t help but to think that if even one of them was trying to live a more Hand Free life, he or she may have put their device away and instead grasped the other one’s hand.
Perhaps then she or he might have said, “We rarely get out without the kids, let’s take advantage of this time and talk.”
Who knows what discoveries they could have made about each other that night? Who knows what that two-hour long sole focus on one another could have done for their relationship?
And yet I can’t help but think about what that table would have looked like if BOTH of them were trying to live life in a Hands Free partnership.
My hunch tells me that communication and connection would have been at its peak.
And it would have had nothing to do with an iPhone.
Imagine for a moment what benefits might result from having less technology connection and more personal connection with the person who shares your life. Imagine the benefits of sharing Hands Free connection and accountability with the one you love. If you can think of even one benefit, take 30 seconds to “share” this post by clicking the button below. Whether it’s your spouse, best friend, significant other, parent, sister, grown child, or simply someone who has popped into your mind, extend this invitation to try Hands Free living with you. The benefits will be immediate and powerful.
Beautiful. This made me cry. Thanks for sharing your life with us. 🙂
Julia Kurskaya says
Since I’ve started my Hands Free journey, relationship between me and my husband has changed so much. Your message makes us behave more authentic not only with only with our children but also with others that we love, to look into their eyes and think of what we tell them.
We have become so much happier as a family now. We’ve stopped waiting for other things in our life to change so that we could start breathing.
To my great surprise, now I can find true reasons to smile to my mother-in-law (I couldn’t think of any for 10 years I know her). I find myself joking and laughing-doing things I thought I was not able to any more. Thank you for taking away the frown of concern that was always there when I glanced in the mirror. This made happier not only my daughter and me but also my -one and only best in the world -husband!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Wow! This is such a beautiful message. Thank you for sharing this with me, Julia!
I am new to the Hands Free revolution, and just started reading the blog from what I think was the beginning – Dec 2010? I need this desperately. I am a homeschooling mom of three (8, 5, 2) but I’m constantly feeling overwhelmed and irritated. And I don’t leave my house except for church on Sundays. So I’m not overcommitted. My husband even does the grocery shopping on his way home from work.
I only have to cook, do laundry and get school done every day. (Full disclosure, I do host three other families for co-op once a week, which is by far easier than to load my three children & gear into the van and drive 7 minutes away to unload them and then reload & unload all the gear again afterwards). My to do list is short when I look at it like this. But I feel utterly overwhelmed and I honestly have no idea how to be hands free so I can play games with my children instead of screaming at them to focus so we can get school done already.
How do I choose love (and puzzles?!) when I have to do the dishes so we can eat the next meal? I haven’t cleaned my shower in months – maybe 6? – because I have chosen to let that go because I can’t keep up. How pathetic is that? My preference would be a perfectly clean home, but I have given up on that in the last few years, especially after our third child was born. I can get laundry washed and dried, but I end up with six baskets of clean clothes in my bedroom for nearly a week before they get folded and put away… What am I doing wrong? Because not making a priority of the household chores isn’t resulting in time spent lovingly with my family. It ends up with me frazzled and everything hanging over my head. 🙁
I tried to click on the hyperlinks in the posts I’ve read and all of them were 404’d. I thought maybe I’d find some insights on what to do/stop… Please point me to the next step! I don’t want to live frustrated and angry anymore. I want to lavish my family with loving attention and affection while also fulfilling my responsibilities as a wife and mom.
Thank you for what you are doing! Everything I’ve read so far has resonated with me. I’m so grateful for what God has done in your life and for your humility and vulnerability in sharing it so publicly. Thank you.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Debbie, for reaching out so openly and honestly. It will be helpful for you to read these two blog posts which have beginning steps in them:
My book, HANDS FREE MAMA, details every single step I took in my journey and includes about 50 strategies to live a less distracted, more connected life. Many of my early writings made their way into the book and had to be removed from the blog for copyright reasons. Everything you need is in this book.
Wishing you the best on your journey. HANDS FREE MAMA ==> http://amzn.to/1gDzKRO