In the past week, the same question arose during a magazine interview and also while serving on a mindful parenting panel. This leads me to believe that the topic is important; it’s relevant; and it’s on our minds. While I feel the question and my response are both worthy of sharing, it goes much further than that. This particular question has led me to reflect on how I want to live out this one precious life. It’s brought me one step closer to grasping what really matters. This is my story …
“Why is it important to remember to be hands free in front of our children?” I was asked twice in one week.
And this was my response:
Our children are learning how to navigate life in a digital world by watching us. Through mindful technology use, children can learn there is a time and place for our devices. On the flip side, if we constantly have a device in our hand or our face in a screen, they will learn that the device takes priority over human beings and real life experiences. Their tech use is likely to resemble our tech use – so what we do with our device at the dinner table, while driving, or while waiting at a restaurant is likely what they will do.
One of my most effective strategies for maintaining healthy boundaries between real life and technology is to envision what will make my children feel fulfilled in the future. And it comes down to this:
If I want my children to be awed by sunsets in the future, I must take time to be awed by sights in nature now.
If I want my children to appreciate the joy of a screen-free Saturday afternoon in the future, I must take time to show them the joys of screen-free Saturday now.
If I want my children to look directly into the eyes of those who speak to them when they are adults, I must look into their eyes and listen to their words now.
It is my ultimate hope that my children’s childhood memories include me participating in their lives with open hands and attentive eyes. This means doing what I can now to be a hands free parent as they grow.
After I submitted my response to the magazine editor and relayed this perspective to a room full of conference attendees, I found myself going back to the “ultimate hope” line again and again:
It is my ultimate hope that my children’s childhood memories include me participating in their lives with open hands and attentive eyes.
Keeping in mind how I want to be remembered by my loved ones when I am gone motivates me far more than any other tactic I use to grasp what really matters each day.
But let’s be real. It’s hard to be present, patient, and purposeful in this fast-paced, achievement-oriented, digitally-saturated world we live in. We often feel pressured to be available in the most remote places, during the most sacred times. We often have a multitude of requests coming at us with flashing lights and intrusive dings. We live in a world that wants to know how much we accomplished … a world where daily achievements are publically displayed … a world that values instantaneous electronic responses over leisurely face-to-face connection.
It’s hard to LET GO and LIVE when the world is constantly tapping us on the shoulder reminding us there is so much to be done.
But how much I achieved and how fast I responded is not what I want my family to remember about me when I am gone.
In fact, pinpointing the ways I don’t want to be remembered has been as effective as pinpointing the ways I do want to be remembered. Basically, I have identified my red flag behaviors. So when I find myself doing these actions I say to myself, “Whoa. If I should leave this earth today, this is not how I want to be remembered.”
So here it is … my reminder, my red flags, my daily Hands Free vow to my loved ones all rolled into one …
What I Want You to Remember
Today I want you to remember my listening face—not my fake listening face, the one that nods robotically and looks right through you.
Today I want to love you by listening, really listening.
Today I want you to remember my open hands—not my multi-tasking hands, the ones too full, too busy, too pushy to gently tuck your hair behind your ear.
Today I want to love you by opening my two free hands.
Today I want you to remember my loving voice—not my impatient, exasperated, not-right-now voice.
Today I want to love you by speaking kindly.
Today I want you to remember my present self—not my moving target self, the one darting frantically from point A to point B, too hurried to let you set the pace.
Today I want to love you by slowing down.
It isn’t easy to admit the fake listening face, the multi-tasking hands, the impatient voice, or the moving-target self … yet, the truth hurts, but the truth heals and brings me closer to the person I want to be. I’ll never forget the day I realized the unhappy, distracted, hurried version of myself was becoming the norm—it was who I was and how my children and spouse would remember me after I was gone.
I didn’t want to be remembered that way.
I’ve discovered that a little listening, a little stillness, a little softness, and a little patience only cost a few minutes of my time, but the positive results of these actions can last a lifetime, maybe even longer.
Little daily gestures of love, patience, and presence become who you are now and how you will someday be remembered.
And we can begin today with one listening face and two open hands.
Out of everything mentioned in “What I Want You to Remember,” the most important gesture to me is The Listening Face. My dad gave me the gift of The Listening Face throughout my childhood and tumultuous teen years; I am quite certain it saved me. The fact that my dad valued what I had to say—no matter how unimportant or trivial—gave me the confidence to speak up even in the most intimidating and dangerous situations. My dad’s listening face saved me time after time.
When my children were born, I vowed to give them that same gift. Even at my most distracted and overwhelmed, I can remember offering The Listening Face to my children. It was the one thing I knew I could do well even if I failed at everything else. And now, I continue to make every effort to listen with a loving, non-judgmental expression because I know how critically important it is to the emotional wellbeing of a child (big or small).
Someday I hope my children will remember my eyes, the nodding of my head, and my thoughtful responses. This is exactly how I want to be remembered when I am gone. But in the meantime, something wonderfully unexpected is happening.
My older daughter, Natalie, had spent the day with another family and her friend’s aunt happened to be there. After spending time with Natalie, the aunt gave my daughter the most heartfelt compliment. She said, “Out of all the children I have spent time with, I enjoy Natalie the most. I love that she looks right into my eyes when she speaks and she genuinely listens to what I have to say. She’s just a pleasure to be around.”
The Listening Face
My dad gave it to me and now it appears I have given it to my daughter.
More than stellar grades,
More than crisp blue ribbons,
More than innovative science projects, grand achievements, or superior athletic ability
More than talent, charisma, humor, or charm …
I want my child to have attentive eyes, open hands, loving words, and a contented heart.
So I will continue to offer her daily gestures of presence and love—even when the world taps me on the shoulder, even when I fail miserably, even when I am bone tired, even when love is the last thing I feel like giving.
I will keep trying.
And maybe, just maybe, the beautiful results of these daily gestures of love and presence will become evident sooner than expected.
Maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to wait until my dying breath to see these loving actions have made a difference.
Maybe, just maybe, these daily gestures will make up how I am someday remembered, but more importantly, who I am now.
Maybe, just maybe, these offerings will live in the heart, soul, and facial expressions of someone I love dearly.
And maybe, just maybe, her life will be better because of it.
How do you want to be remembered? What prevents you from offering daily gestures of love, presence, and patience to yourself and those you love? What are some small gestures of love and kindness that you are able to incorporate into your daily routine? Thank you for openly and honestly sharing your heart here in the comment section of this blog. When we show each other our scars, we love each other more. That’s what I believe.
Friends, it was a true honor to speak at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco where two-thousand people came together to discuss how we can we live with wisdom, awareness, and compassion in the digital age. Arianna Huffington mentioned my work in her talk, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power.” Afterwards, she offered me encouragement to continue writing and sharing the Hands Free message.
I am currently reading Arianna’s forthcoming book, Thrive, and this particular sentence resonated deeply with me: “We may not be able to witness our own eulogy, but we’re actually writing it all the time, every day.” I am grateful to influential leaders like Arianna who are inspiring others to consider a more fulfilling definition of success, both in the workplace and in daily life.
One final note: My publisher has added a book-signing event! The HANDS FREE MAMA book tour is going international! Here is the information:
What: Book signing and interview with Rachel Macy Stafford, hosted by parenting educator Andrea Nair
When: March 5th 2014, 7:00 pm
Where: Indigo Burlington
1250 Brant Street
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Atlanta, you will conclude my book signing tour on March 6th. Please see the event details here. I would love to pack the house for this final signing!
Andy Kerckhoff says
Thank you for this reminder that we are forming a legacy every day with our kids. The time flies by, and the next thing you know, they are 16, then 18, and it’s over. We need to seize the day and be with our kids.
I am so glad that your book is doing so well and your message continues to reach so far. Keep up the great work.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Andy, for continuing to be a source of encouragement and inspiration on my journey. Your work helps me tremendously.
I enjoy reading a variety of blogs about parenthood, but yours appeals to me on a level like no others. I began a *mostly* hands free parenting journey as my New Year’s Resolution. It has been the greatest parenting choice I’ve made. Not only do I feel less distracted and overwhelmed, but my children have my full attention. My days are still shared between my family, work, and school, but each aspect receives more of my devoted attention, instead of a fraction of it.
Each time I read one of your blog posts, I see more and more how similar our journeys are. For me, this last year has really been filled with some heavy introspection and evaluation of why I choose to be a mama. It is not to boast or rant on Facebook. It is not to have myself readily available for anyone that may be trying to call or text me at any moment of the day. It is not to have a life fully documented with pictures in my iCloud. I choose to be mama so that I can share life’s wonderment with my girls. So that the world can be graced by the joy, enthusiasm, and spirit that exudes from each of my sweethearts. I chose to be a mama to help create women that I will be proud of, not maximize my data plan.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Beautifully stated, Amber. Thank you for sharing what you have discovered. “I choose to be mama so that I can share life’s wonderment with my girls. So that the world can be graced by the joy, enthusiasm, and spirit that exudes from each of my sweethearts. I chose to be a mama to help create women that I will be proud of, not maximize my data plan.” Whoa. That is soul-touching, powerful stuff. Thank you.
Rachel, I have the usual tears on my cheeks from reading another of your posts. I am 64, mother of four children ages 25-38 and grandmother to three. I have followed your blog for about a year and a half and pre-ordered your book, so I could have it the minute it was released. It took me awhile to get through your book, because it was such an emotional journey down my parenting lane. While many held me up as an example of a great parent, I am now aware of how often I chose causes, to-do lists, and my career ahead of my children. I can’t do- over their childhoods, but I can work at being more present today. For Valentine’s Day I ordered four more of your books and sent one to each of my children along with a love letter and an apology. I explained to them how when I started out parenting I was on track to do it better and differently than my parents. Then as more children arrived and life became busier and I said Yes to causes, I simply fell into the ‘default parenting’ that was modeled to me by mom and dad. I became more of a ‘human doing’ than I was a ‘human being’. During those years I never realized how much I had gone off course from the parent I was at the beginning. And no book I read or seminar I attended jolted me into making changes as your blog is doing for parents today.
Your post today gave me such hope and comfort! It made me look at my children as they are today and see them for the fine people they are. They know how to put down their screens and enjoy nature in all seasons, they are good communicators and listen to their children and spouses, they serve others. So to paraphrase the song, ” So somewhere in their youths and childhoods, I must have done something good.” Today I’m going to wipe away my tears, shush my regrets and move forward with WHAT I KNOW NOW striving to be come a better parent to them and an amazing grandparent to my ‘littles’. Thank you for each and every post that helps me see a better way.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Cindy, there is no greater gift to me that to know something I wrote allowed someone to see what they did or are doing right and to let go of the past and live in today. I wasted a lot of time looking back in regret only to realize doing that was only sabotaging the joy I could be experiencing NOW. Out of anything I write, the message I most want people to hear and believe is that IT IS NOT TOO LATE to live the way you wish you had yesterday. Thank you for sharing part about the apologies you offered your children. That same action was instrumental for me to look ahead and stop looking back. I am so grateful you took a moment to share your heart today. My day has just improved by 1000 percent. Much love to you, friend.
Cindy, I just want to say how much your comment has touched me. I am nothing but inspired by you and your honesty and determination to BE the person you want to be.
Your children and grandchildren are incredibly lucky to have such an insightful mother and grandma. Sending you love, Louise
(aka Mama Bean @ http://mamabeanblog.blogspot.co.uk )
I have always loved everything you write. But this one really meant a lot! I’ve thought a lot about how my family will remember me always but you’ve put it in a way that it’s just right! I’ve told you before your blogs and writing are just so inspiring to me everyday, I’ve been hands free more day after day and as I was at the birthday party with my boys this past weekend, a friend said to me that she’s noticed that I don’t use my phone anymore as much as I used to? She was saying that it’s so nice to see how I can just not use it.? She asked me how did I do that and to help her do it, I’ve told her about you and how you’ve help me, you are my daily bible!!!
Becky Kopitzke says
You’ve slayed me. And I needed it. Thank you, Rachel. I can’t wait for my daughter to get home from school so I can be intentional about that listening face and those open hands. God bless you.
Laban D. N says
I’m a Great-Grandfather who not only appreciate your wonderful words and after five children, eleven grandchildren and right now 3 great-grandchildren I see that I must do a better job in listening. Thanks and may God bless you and what you impart to all of us. Again THANKS!
You always write the right thing at the right time for me. Even as a non-parent, I can see how I can shape my life to be a better person through your inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I have been reading your blog for several months and it has always struck a cord with me. But today, when I am crushed under the weight of all there is to do and the guilt of all I am not doing, but should be, your post leaves me in a puddle. I work full time at a church, which often requires me to “be on” all the time, and quitting is not a financial option for us. My husband has an 1 1/2 hour commute to work each way, leaving me responsible for most of the parent duties – school parties, doctor appointments, activities, hair cuts, etc. My daughters, 10 and 7, often take the brunt of our busy lives, as I am always impatient, stressed and harried. I don’t want to live this way. I am tired of feeling like I am always letting someone down. I am tired of feeling guilty. I am tired of feeling as though the list of things to do never ends. I am tired. But I don’t see a way forward. I can “make time” for games, but then I am up even later in the evenings doing laundry, dishes, whatnot. In short, I feel hopeless that things will ever be different and my heart breaks … for my girls, for my husband, for myself.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Dear Beka, thank you for sharing your heart and being open about how you are struggling. That is not an easy thing to say, but from that painful place of awareness change begins to happen. Let me start by saying I am in awe of your commitment to your children and also by your strength and hard work. The fact that you have a tremendous amount of responsibilities, but yet you are showing your children that you love them deeply by thinking about how can you can make changes to be the parent you want to be. The fact that you are thinking about how to be present for your children is remarkable and important. And this is your beginning to lessening your constant feeling of overwhelm. Remember, small acts will make a difference to your children. For example, start by taking 1-3 minutes each day with each child to check-in with that child to see how he/she is doing. On days that you cannot find time to do this, don’t give yourself a hard time. Just keep in mind you are doing the best you can. I would also incorporate your children in the nightly kitchen clean up. This offers more time to be together, connect, talk. While putting dishes away and cleaning up, you could ask them an open ended question. I love this list by Dr. Laura Markham: http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/communication/family-discussions. This also goes for time in the car. Rather than wasting that time by being on the phone or having the kids on devices, use that time to talk and connect. When your children see you are available during these times, they will be more likely to respond positively. You might even be open about what you are trying to do and how they can help you. My girls loved it when I said I no longer wanted to use my phone while driving. It changed the atmosphere in the car immediately. And if you get to the point that you can create one daily ritual that is void of distraction, I think it would help ease the guilt you are experiencing. Whether that be tucking them in at night, having dinner together, enjoying morning snuggles, do this ritual every day so that no matter how the rest of the day goes, your child can always count on that one period of connection. Even the smallest moments of connection will someday make up their most treasured childhood memories. That 5 minutes you spend talking together at night will add up. That 10 minute drive you take talking together will add up. Do you have a copy of my book? It tells EXACTLY the steps and strategies I used to transform my overcommitted, distracted, hurried life. I didn’t leave anything out. I think you would find it to be very healing, as well, because I talk about the internal distraction (the inner critic and bully inside us all) that keeps us from truly living. http://www.amazon.com/Hands-Free-Mama-Putting-Perfection/dp/0310338131. Please remember, this process takes time, but your eyes have been opened. Just begin with one small change. It will add to another and another. There is hope today.
Danielle Hewitt says
I just want to say that I really loved this entry. I feel like it could be an anthem for all of us modern mommies, who are constantly bouncing between work, kids, the house, school, church, fellowship groups, and all the other things we do each day. It is so hard to remember to be present, to stop and listen to a silly song when the cat box needs emptying and the bed needs making…
I don’t know. It is just difficult to put it all aside for a minute. The easy thing to do is lose mindless scroll through Instagram. But the valuable thing to do is to engage with my kids and family. I need to remember that.
Anyway…this was a great read. I am going to print it out and keep it where I can see it all the time. Thanks. 🙂
Funny — when I remember to engage– for my son’s benefit– it benefits ME tremendously as well. 🙂
Sandy Blackard says
Another inspiring post! Congratulations on your success at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference. I just want to affirm that your “listening face” is the gift you give to whomever you are speaking. At your book signing in Austin, I saw it in your conversations with readers and felt it in your conversations with Eva, Betsy and me. Instantly connective with “open hands and attentive eyes.” Where listening is concerned, you have the natural grace and ease of a master. That is how you are already remembered and why you are such an inspiration to us all.
Oooohhh! Rachel… If only my mom would read your blog… Although she speaks English well , she doesn’t like to take the time reading in it… Ugh…
She NEEDS the hands-free message. She is pushing away my sister and I and I have tried showing it to her.
I went to visit her this weekend (even though she lives 800 miles away). She made clear by her tone of voice and her attitude, when she was going to have lunch with my sister and I that she’d rather be home (where she would stay on the computer playing solitaire). She wouldn’t listen to me, often interupting me in the middle of a sentence. When I complained, she sulked like a 4 year old and gave me the silent treatment THE REST OF THE AFTERNOON!
Now, again, I live almost a thousand miles away. It’s not like she sees me everyday. Usually we see each other like 2x a year. This year has been different in that I have been able to go visit her more often… HOWEVER, she has almost made me regret ALL my trips.
She made no effort being present AT ALL. She made no effort listening to me. She made no effort to stay WITH me.
What makes my time there worthwile is my sister. Who can’t wait to move away.
I really don’t know what to do… Or even if there IS anything TO be done…
I’m losing all hope to have any kind of connection to my mom.
Sandy Blackard says
I’m one of Rachel’s colleagues and a parenting and personal development coach. Rachel invited me to respond to you. I hope what I have to say will be helpful.
The fact that you continue to go to great lengths to visit your mother with the hope that one day she will be present, listen and stay with you speaks volumes of your longing for a deeper connection with your mother. Your wish to share Rachel’s message with her to save her from pushing you and your sister away is genuinely kind and loving, and your sadness at the thought of losing all hope tells me that part of you will never give up on her, despite the pain and frustration you repeatedly experience. I am moved by who you are for your mother, your sister and yourself.
Your comment also demonstrates for other readers what Rachel has been saying, that it’s never too late for a mother or father to start listening and connecting with their child. You would clearly be overjoyed if at any moment she could find her “listening face” to share with you. That is the nature of the parent-child bond – no matter what a parent does or doesn’t do, the child remains right there, ready to connect and forgive whenever the parent opens his/her heart, eyes and hands.
You said you didn’t know if there was anything you could do. Whether or not your mother is able to change, there is something very important you can do for you, and your sister for herself. As much as you hate it when your mother interrupts you or seems uncomfortable spending time with you and your sister, the place to start is your THOUGHTS about WHY she does that.
It sounds like her actions have led you to believe painful thoughts, perhaps like she doesn’t care about you or doesn’t love you? Check inside to see what comes up for you, but whatever thoughts you have, since she is your mother, it is far more likely that the reason she acts the way she does is more about her and how she feels about herself than about how she feels about you. This is almost always the case.
A valuable exercise for you could be to try to imagine how a person who actually cares deeply about you could act like that. If you were her and cared deeply for your daughters, what would it take for you to act like your mother does now? Depression? An undiagnosed psychological problem? Guilt? Feeling like a failure? If you can step into those shoes, it can give you incredible insight into her life and her mind, help you gain a new perspective on her actions toward you, and open new avenues for resolving your situation.
Beyond that, once you can see a way that her actions might not mean what you thought, you can look back at your recent and distant past for ways that she has demonstrated she cares about you and wants to be more connected with you. I knew one woman who didn’t think her mother cared because she never said, “I love you.” Believing that her mother didn’t care, she completely discounted the fact that her mother stayed at her side for weeks when she was in the hospital. Painful thoughts can blind us to loving truths. I hope somewhere in your past you can find your mother’s loving truths.
If any of the truths you uncover lead you to believe your mother would benefit from professional help, please let her know that another colleague of Rachel’s and mine, Dr. Theresa Kellam, licensed psychologist, would be willing to have a conversation with her and/or you to help you figure out what you can do. She can be reached at her website: http://www.theresakellam.com
The rest of the solution will lie with you. When you can see your mother’s actions from a loving perspective, you will have a new ability to be with her without feeling hurt. A change in your reactions to her would affect how she feels when she is with you and could be the beginning of rebuilding a relationship with her.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you so much, Sandy, for this healing message that is very enlightening and hopeful. Sending love to my friend, Virginia, tonight. I hope Sandy’s words offer her some solace.
Thank you so much for your words! They meant a lot! =)
I have been working on those feelings (with therapy) over the last month or so, and that is why it’s so raw right now.
I do know that it has everything to do with her and with her needing help.
She loves me deeply and I know it. It’s just that she is lost right now inside her own world and using technology is a way for her to disconnect from her own emotions.
Right now she DOESN’T want to get better. She doesn’t want to seek professional help of any sort.
My whole family has a history with depression, anxiety, etc. I come from a long lineage of powerful women who are clueless when it comes to human interaction.
During one of my last trips, I talked to her about it and she said that she is proud of herself, of what she has accomplished. She is proud her daughters turned out well (responsible adults, with no alcohol or drug use), she wishes she loved herself more.
I got the “I wish I loved myself more” and went with that. I asked her if she was willing to work on THAT note.
Her answer? “You know what? I don’t. I’m all good.”
No matter how much I wish she’d go to a therapist, seek help, change her ways, I can’t force that on her.
I can change how I feel about her. There is a part of me (the scared and scarred little girl) who feels betrayed to being born in such a disfunctional family. There is a part of me that understands that it was all part of God’s plan. There’s a part that understands that all my mother has become is due to her own life experiences.
What I am losing hope is that she will get out of this dark, dark place where she is.
I go visit her because I know she has a limited time on this planet. She’s getting older (almost 60) with un-healthy habits (drinking, smoking, no exercise). I don’t want to wake up one day and regret not visiting her more often, when I have the financial means to do it and a plane will take me there in less than two hours.
Anyway… I’m glad I have a session with my therapist (who’s actually called Tereza) tomorrow.
Rachel knows a little bit about my story and I have come a long way (thank goodness)… I wasn’t yet ready to work on this particular subject until recently.
Now I am…
Thank you both for your kindness and support. It means a LOT to me. And thank Theresa for me as well.
Living in Brazil and with the language as a barrier for my mom (who speaks English, but doesn’t really like to), I don’t see how she’d reach for someone in another country…
All my best wishes,
Sandy Blackard says
I am so glad you have your own Tereza and relieved to hear the rest of the story. Especially since you are doing your own work on loving yourself more, it may seem puzzling that your mother could wish for the same thing yet not be willing to do anything about it.
Here is one more perspective shift that might help: What if you could see your mother’s distractions and denial statements like, “I’m all good” as her own way of moving toward greater self-acceptance at a pace that is comfortable for her? Although those natural mechanisms for growth are slower than working with a therapist, they do move us toward self-love slowly and steadily by keeping us in an affirming, “I’m OK just as I am” state of mind. Being done with trying to change oneself is an important step toward self-acceptance and self-love. Having hit that point, it makes sense that additional “opportunities” for improvement or change might feel intrusive to her.
Your statement that she comes from “a long lineage of powerful women who are clueless when it comes to human interaction,” supports this perspective. Imagine how challenging it must have been for her to be “clueless about human interaction” and try to raise two daughters, constantly pulling her out of her comfort zone with their deep desire to connect. That must have been exhausting! No wonder she is proud of herself and you. If anyone has earned the right to be done trying to connect with her own emotions and others, she has! See what I mean?
But the best part, and the gift it appears she has given you and your sister, seems to be a deep natural desire to connect. While that might have been foreign for her, it is now completely natural for you. Could it be that her heroic efforts to connect with you when you were little (whether they seemed enough for you two or not) or even her inability to do so were the very things that broke the dysfunctional lineage chain? Could you and your sister be her gift to the world and the start of something new in your family?
Those may be helpful thoughts to ponder as you continue your work with your therapist. Meanwhile it warms my heart to know that she has you to listen to her at whatever times you can and to continue to love her no matter what she is able to do in return. Giving her your own “listening face” will help her more than you may know.
Dear Sandy, Dear Rachel,
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! Today I was able to gain a lot of insights with Sandy’s words and on my therapy session. I’m happy to say that I’m much better.
Sandy, what you said about “giving her your own “listening face” will help her more than you may know”… PURE GOLD!!
You are angels, both of you!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
This makes my heart SO happy, Virginia!!! And thank you, Sandy!
Sandy Blackard says
Virginia and Rachel, you are most welcome. It brings me such joy that my words made a difference. Sending you both loving thoughts
Christi Bloomer says
Your comments always inspire, make me want to shed and tear, but most often, provide that jolting reminder followed by illustrative examples of how to be a better parent. And I most likely remember those things that touch my heart! Beautifully written! Thanks for the inspiration and new goals!
Carolyn Hancock says
But it’s not over when your kids are 16 or 18. My son is 22 and calls home from college evey week. It’s not hands-free, but the listening is still important.
My daughter is 25 and still appreciates an attentive ear, and I can also listen attentively to my 2 grandsons now.
Thank you once again. I enjoy not only reading your posts but everyone else’s comments. Everyone is so respectful and it is so refreshing. I was very fortunate that I had parents who were always present for my siblings and I.
Julie Mann says
As always, what a blog! It made me think about my own experience with friends, colleagues, and others…when I’m trying to talk to them and instead of getting their eyes, I am looking at their head which is looking at a text. I always feel like I should just stop talking, and usually do. But the truth is that I do it too. To them, and to my daughter. And she is now 9. How much time have I wasted? How much opportunity for meaningful connection have I missed? Thank you again for these amazing reminders and inspiration!
Caroline McGraw says
Congratulations on the additional book tour stops, Rachel — how exciting! Traveling mercies to you as you go. And I like the idea of the ‘listening face’ both as something we practice and something we pass along as a gift to others.
I thought of you / the HFM community the other night, as I was listening to my sweet husband describe a project he’s working on. He’s doing a wonderful job, and I’m so proud of him, but at the time I felt too tired to ‘really’ listen to what he had to share … in the moment, I just wanted to get back to what I was reading. 😉
But then I remembered: this is what’s important. This is exactly the kind of moment I used to long for, back when both of us worked long hours in caregiving roles. And once I started listening, really listening, fatigue momentarily fell away and was replaced with gratitude. Listening does take energy, but it also gives back.
Thank you Rachel, thank you thank you thank you. You have helped me follow my resolution (before I even knew about your blog!) to give more love, patience, and understanding to my two young boys, my husband, my parents, and hopefully one day to myself too. I have put more effort into the listening face in the last couple of weeks and I see a difference with my boys (me too – I LOVE listening to them!). My husband has been giving me the same advice as you…tomorrow is another day, we can press the reset button again tomorrow and start over…try harder, be better. Thank goodness children are so open to forgiveness, maybe one day I can learn and live from them.
I am so thankful for your posts! You are so beautiful with your words and they resonate so deeply in my heart. I am a mother of a 3 and 6 year old and trying to instill in them the power of heartfelt words and caring actions. I am also a pediatric PA and have started using your book and insights as a way to try to encourage other parents and express the importance of being present for our families:) thank you!
As always, this post has me wanting to change my hurried, stressed ways and just enjoy these beautiful beings that I have been blessed with. To help me remember, I have some of your quotes from my favourite posts stuck on my refrigerator door and I read them several times daily – especially when I feel the pressure starting to win. They are my visual cue to pause, breathe and in many cases, have a do-over of the previous 5/10/15 minutes. This one is another definite keeper – the only problem is I may need to buy a new fridge to find some space!
Hi. I love this post. Im writing this to say its so hard for me right now to read this knowing this is what I want to give to my daughter but feel I cant. I have always been into gentle parenting and always listened to my daughter ever since she was born. We dont yell at her or order her about and loved to play with her. But I am currently suffering some postnatal depression after having my son 4 months ago. Im absolutely in love with both my kids but ive felt a great inertia in my days, finding it hard to enjoy play or wanting to go out. Ive yelled at my daughter as I no longer have the time I did before (though I apologise every time). I dont want to be remembered as depressed, no fun and just sitting there. I want my children to feel heard, loved, important and remember fun times and laughter with me. The listening face is something we’ve always done but recently ive let it slip. I will try to remember your words when I dont feel like doing anything; how do I want to be remembered? Thank you.
Jen Harbour says
The listening face is truly a beautiful one. Made me tear up thinking about your sweet dad…. And made me want to be better!!!
Diane Witherspoon says
I appreciated your blog very much. It disturbs me to see a family in a car and children are watching a video. Parents are missing such an opportunity to “be” with their children. I remember my father leading us in singing while driving the family on a trip. I only wish I could hear him sing one more time. Because of your blog I will give more time to my children and my grandchildren. I love to send a note and I stick in a little red felt heart I have cut out. I keep a stack on my desk. I can imagine a “smile” when they open my note – they are in college, but they still smile. I am “kinda” known for my red hearts. A lady in my church invited me into her home and showed me the mirror in her room. It was outlined in “my” red hearts she had received. Small gesture – good for me and I good for the receivers. Cheap, very little time, just a lot of caring for others. One felt square will make 40 good-sized hearts. I can cut them out while watching tv, talking on the phone, i.e. I love to hear people’s stories and I DO listen. You never know who might be in your presence. On a plane recently a school teacher gave me a copy of a book she had written as a Special Ed teacher. My daughter is a teacher (as was my mother) and it will be shared. Keep up the beautiful work and I hope to see you again soon. Thank YOU!
Suzi Banks Baum says
Oh what a joy to find your blog! I write about “Hands free living” also on my blog Laundry Line Divine. I would love to connect with you more. I host a blog series on mothering and creativity called “Out of the Mouths of Babes”. Take a look and email me if you are intrigued. I am running guest blog posts through March. Thank you for all your work in the world. I am thrilled to find you here. I will share your work forward.
You heart and words have changed my life. I read your blog all the time and it’s changed my parenting, along with God. God bless you!!
Your initial point about setting an example is so true and something I have thought about often. However, I never really thought about it so much with technology.
I like the term listening face. I need to present that more often. After all, I don’t want to be remembered as someone whose face was buried in technology.
Such a wonderful post. I haven’t read your book yet but I am really keen on doing it. Would you consider coming to Romania some time? Mommies here would really need such a “breath of fresh air” speech.
I have been inspired by your posts for well over a year now, ever since I started my own mindful journey. They have brought such hope, inspiration and passion to unplug more and more and be more present in my own life. I look forward to reading your new book and just ordered it on my NOOK 🙂 Thank you for giving me the courage to write about my own journey and challenging myself (and hopefully others) to make the choice day by day to live. I often think about your experiences when I write about how I want to walk my own path. (recent post http://amindfuljourney.com/putting-down-the-phone/ 🙂
Thanks again for sharing your journey and wisdom!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. My husband and I are expecting our first child later this year and desire to be intentional, present parents as you write about. Your reminder of what this busy, tech-oriented world can take away from us is refreshing to hear.
You are treasured! All the best to you and yours!
Thank you for writing this book. I met you this past week at the Burlington, Ontario Indigo store. Your stories have helped me look at my life differently. Today I asked my children to describe me in 3 words. My 9 year old son said kind, fun, caring and my 7 year old son said fun, cuddly, caring. Those words melted my heart as I expected to hear the worst. I have been my worst critic as clearly my children do not seem me as negative as I do. I will use this book as my reference daily. I have also made a board with all the passages in your book that have inspired me to change and become the person I want to be. Thank you
This is a wonderful article and very much makes me think about how actions and their not only short term but long term effect. It is truly something to think about how you want to be remembered and what you want to leave your children with, thank you for this and thank you for helping me to stop and think twice, it does truly make all the difference. I love reading your post they are so inspiring.
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