“But I'll kneel down,
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down,
Know my ground
And I will wait, I will wait for you.”
–Mumford & Sons
At the beginning of any school year, there are always quite a few student information sheets to fill out. But when I came to the pink sheet in my second grader’s folder, I was forced to pause.
What are your child’s fears? What calms your child when upset?
As my pen sat suspended above the blank lines, I let my mind wander into dark territories. What situations would upset my child at school? I knew. Intruders and tornadoes. Thankfully she’d only experienced one of them first-hand, and the tornado did not have a direct hit. But it was close enough to forever alter her perception of storms and the fragility of life.
Thankfully, I knew exactly what would bring comfort to my child if either of these situations arose. She would want to know where her sister was in the building. She would want to know that I was coming for her just as soon as I possibly could.
In other words: tell her where her people are.
I called my daughters to the kitchen. I told them about the pink sheet, as well as the emergency evacuation form provided by the school. At their new school the emergency procedures were different from their previous school. I let the girls know that anytime it was necessary to vacate the building, they would be taken to different safe places—one to the middle school and one to the high school with their respective classes. The girls talked about a few of the drills they’d practiced in the past and remembered how some classmates slept in their classrooms during an ice storm last year. I reminded them that in the event of an emergency, I might not be allowed to come right away, but I would eventually get to them any way I could.
My younger daughter giggled as she typically does when she is scared or nervous. My older daughter nodded casually, although her big brown eyes gave away her true feelings about this topic.
“Even if I am not with you, know for certain that I am waiting for you and praying for you,” I said clutching each of their arms as if to brand that assurance into their skin like a tattoo.
I’d learned the importance of Knowing Where Your People Are early in my parenting journey. My husband and I were staying in a high-rise condo with several members of our extended family when the fire alarm began screaming in the middle of night. My husband and I bolted from our bed looking to retrieve the children who were four-years-old and eleven-months-old at the time. My husband quickly gathered my older daughter in his arms. He stopped me from going to the baby’s room. “Let’s go!” he urged.
“Where’s my baby! Where’s my baby!” I screamed hysterically. For some reason, he did not tell me specifics, only that she was okay and we must get down the stairs. Those were the most agonizing twenty-two flights of stairs I’d ever descended. My heart nearly beat right out my chest in anticipation of finding my baby waiting for me at the bottom.
When I saw her in the arms of a family member, my knees went weak. Her little hands reached for me desperately. For the first time ever, I saw what fear looked like on my child’s little face. She had been wondering where I was. My daughter buried her face into my neck and her body instantly relaxed. In that moment, I realized a person could overcome the most adverse situations simply by knowing where his or her loved ones were. The walls could be coming down, the winds could sound like a freight train, the situation could be growing worse by the second, but there was great comfort in Knowing Where Your People Are.
This understanding has come in quite handy over the past few months. Ever since our move to a new state this summer, fear has not been a stranger in our home. Facing many “firsts” and not knowing anyone caused my older daughter to get very concerned about the Ebola virus. As we talked about it for several nights in a row, I noted her questions centered around what would happen if Daddy got it. Or what would happen if I got it. My assurances focused on the safety precautions that would keep the people she loved safe and healthy.
My younger daughter was very anxious on the day of her first swim team practice. Before we left the locker room, her hands trembled and her eyes filled with tears. This was not the beloved YMCA where she had a family of coaches that loved her. She wanted to go back to the old team, she told me repeatedly. I assured her that first times are always the hardest. I told her I would be sitting on the bench watching and silently cheering on her bravery.
Upon her entry into the water, her goggles flew off. The cold water took her breath away. There were more kids in her lane than she was used to. I could see the fear grip her, and she began to cry. Her coach bent down, speaking calmly and encouragingly. He adjusted her goggles and off she swam. But each time she came to the end of the lane, her eyes met mine. Your people are right here, my face would say. My daughter has proceeded to get four more practices under her belt and the tears have completely subsided. But even now, she still looks for me each time she comes to the end of the lane.
One afternoon, at school dismissal time, a severe storm popped up. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning. The school notified parents that the children would not be released until the weather subsided. My chest tightened. I worried about how my children would react to this situation, especially my younger daughter due to her intense fear of storms. I immediately prayed that my children would feel comforted by their teachers, and they would be kept safe from harm. An hour and a half later, the storm passed, and we were all united.
“Were you okay?” I asked my younger daughter as she squeezed my mid-section until I could barely breathe.
“We were in ‘tuck and duck’ position forever,” she said exhaustedly. “It was like hard exercise!” After a slight pause, she squeezed me again. “But I wasn’t scared, Mama. I knew that my sister was in the next hall and you were at home praying.”
My friends, the world can be scary–both the world we see on television each night and the one that meets us each morning whether we’re ready or not. There are firsts we must get through … there are hurtful people that intimidate and bully … there are tough situations with no easy answers … there are hardships and heavy burdens … there are pains within us that cannot even be described. It is not uncommon for our loved ones to lay their fears before us and we just don’t even know what to do with them. It can be excruciating to send the people we love off to school … into the pool … off to college … into battle … or into territories unknown when all we want to do is hug them to our chest and never let them go.
But next time that happens, I want you to remember this beautiful comment left by a reader of my blog:
“Because I sat on the stoop as he went off to elementary school and was there waiting for him when he came home, my son thought I was there all day waiting.”
I cried happy tears knowing a little boy went off to school each day thinking his mother loved him so much that she waited for his return. I felt so thankful that one day, when this boy was grown, he told his mom this story and she shared it with others so we could all remember this:
Do not underestimate the power of Knowing Where Your People Are.
Do not underestimate the comfort that comes from knowing someone is waiting for you.
When our people are safe, we feel safe.
When our people believe in us, we are more likely to believe in ourselves.
So keep cheering from the bleachers … keep waiting on the front steps … keep waving as that bus pulls away … keep bowing your head in quiet reverence. Your mere existence, whether in presence or in thought, is enough to make a fearful heart believe it’s all going to be okay.
Dear friends of The Hands Free Revolution, I used my favorite positive affirmations from my growing up years, as well as the ones I used as a special education teacher to create these Made With Love Lunch Notes. In each little burlap sack comes a set of 25 different affirmation cards. Their small size makes them perfect size for lunches, suitcases, duffle bags, pillows, bookmarks, and to post on bathroom mirrors. Give them freely to let someone feel your presence and your love, even when you are apart. (International shipping is available)
My FALL 2018 speaking schedule has been finalized. Please meet me in Scottsdale, AZ (9/15) … Cleveland, OH (10/20) … or Boston, MA (11/14) at these lovely speaking events. Details and links found here, on my speaking page.
If you feel it is the season that you need to bring peace to a frenzied soul, patience to a critical voice, and love to hurried home, please consider one of my three books. My latest daily inspiration book, ONLY LOVE TODAY, is a National bestseller and is available at Target, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Bring more love, presence, and peace to each day. Thank you for all your love and support.
I also have a loving little 4 year old boy who thinks his little sister and I wait 2.5 hours in the car for him during preschool. While waiting in the drop-off line EVERY day, he says, “I’ll miss you cause I love you so much, but you’ll wait in line for me.” Reassuring himself just before he jumps out to be led into school. I’m not sure I’ll ever have the heart to tell him that’s not how it goes! Great post as usual. I think it’s inspired me to NEVER stop waiting for my elementary kids at the bus stop (I’m one of two that stand waiting for many each day). Thank you!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Oh this makes me smile, Jacki! Thank you for sharing your story today! And thank you being One Who Waits. You are so important!
Great writing. The response cracked me up because I too faced the question from each of my pre-schoolers, “Mommy where will you be while Im at pre-school??” My answer was always “Ill be at Target getting coffee, shopping and then Im right back here.” Never ever had tears with any of them because they knew the routine lol. They would always ask “How was Target today?”
I can’t imagine the fear you felt, getting down the stairs, hoping to find your baby somewhere at the bottom. But I’m also impressed by the blind trust you had in your husband. I’m sorry to say I would have fought him to check the room myself unless he’d given me specifics. Not quite the lesson you intended from today’s post, but illuminating for me.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Yes, I have looked back on that experience hundreds of times and asked myself the same question, Kirsten. I think it came down to the fact that I knew my husband would never leave that condo unless both of our children were out so I trusted his word.
Denise Goff says
My middle child is my adventurous one. She is 32 yrs old and after living in New Zealand for 5 yrs she has moved to Sydney Australia.
I frequently text…’where are you?” and I am sure it aggravates her to know I am checking up on her but I am also sure she is thrilled to know I care where she is. Not long ago though she told me to get the app Find My Friends. Its been a lifesaver for me. At any moment I can click on my app. and then on her pic and it shows me exactly where in Australia she is. I can then see she is at home, the store or work or out riding her bike.
I also have my other children on it that live in the states. My 10 yr old knows I track her bus to see when I need to go meet it at the end of our street.
Its important to know where your people are and that they care where you are too.
What a great post.
Teri Hartsoe says
When my son was in preschool, he would cry each day when I dropped him off. One day I kissed his little hand, leaving a lipstick kiss mark. I told him if he missed me, to look at my kiss and know I was thinking of him and would be back soon. The crying stopped that day <3
Ida Hardwicke says
My little one tells me she needs a heart kiss some mornings…I draw a heart on her palm and then on mine…then we clasp hands so we both have each others’ hearts all day long. (Funny thing…I used to do this with a Sharpie thinking it would last longer ~ not so…a plain old Bic works best!) <3
Rachel Stafford says
So lovely. Thank you, Ida.
I loved reading this today! I also have a sweet little 2nd grader that is a Noticer, and since we’ve moved to NW Arkansas from Las Vegas, the thunderstorms just worry her to death. (We even got an in-ground tornado shelter last year because of her fears–and mine!)
We’re having thunderstorms again today, and your message is a wonderful reminder to let her know what would happen and where we would be if something happened.
Very illuminating. Thank you!
Thanks for your post today. I just left my little boy at his first day of preschool and my 2 year old daughter in her new daycare class in the same “school” . As my daughter was clinging to me, frightened from all of the noise and new faces, she whispered to me “I wan’t my brother”. I called him over and he held her tightly in his arms. As I left the room and blew a kiss, they both gave me giant smiles. My heart was happy. They have each other and they know that Mommy will be back there as soon as the day ends. I can’t wait to see those smiles again!
This actually made me quite emotional. Thank you
“Intruders and tornadoes. Thankfully she’d only experienced one of them first-hand, and the tornado did not have a direct hit. But it was close enough to forever alter her perception of storms and the fragility of life.”
It’s as if you wrote this about MY son. Like you had been in my home the past two years since a tornado tore it up while my son sat huddled in the halls of his school. Like you had seen the fear he has has if he sees a single cloud in the sky.
His greatest fear that day was my safety. Of course I had to wait until the storms passed to get him that day, which added to his anxiety. That might have been the day he felt closest to losing me. I’m glad I came across this post. It’s a reminder to talk to his teacher about his fear of storms, and gives me a few good ideas about how to approach hours fears.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Natalie, I am so sorry for what your family has been through. I am so thankful you were all okay and I pray that your family continues to heal and be comforted in times of fear and anxiety.
I am lucky these days I read your posts the same day you post them. I have become an avid reader of your posts and a companion in this handsfreemama journey. Since I stumbled on The important thing about yelling, I don’t want to go a day without visiting this site. The last term of the year began yesterday and my kids are back to school. I cherish every moment I wait with them for their school buses and have vowed to wait even when they will be considered old enough to wait alone. After all I am their only mama. I wake up very early during school days to pack their snacks and prepare their lunch to carry to school. The other Sunday we went to the beach and played in the waves together and we have never been happier. Since I began this journey I am happier, more tolerant and my attitude has greatly changed. Yesterday as we were leaving the house my son said something that made me realise the change happening in me. He said: ” At least today we have prepared and left peacefully.” This would not have happened last term. It used to be a screaming spree in the morning as we prepared. Me shouting at them and blaming them for making us get late and even telling my son if he misses his bus he will have to stay home. Now am ready to sacrifice my sleep and wake up earlier to make sure we don’t prepare in a rush. Thank you Rachel for what you are doing. Many families will be grateful for what you are doing to change their lives. Keep doing it Rachel, I will be here as long as you keep writing.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Winnie. Tears have sprung to my eyes as I read this beautiful transformation that has occurred in your heart and home. I also feel emotion to know that you wait for my words with joyful anticipation. That is pure fuel to my writer’s heart. Thank you for walking beside me on this journey.
My son had open heart surgery when he was almost 7. When the time came to wheel him into the operating room he would’t let go of my hand so I told him I would climb under the table and stay there until he woke up. He is 19 years old now and doing great! However, every transition has been tough… preschool, grade school, high school and now college. Thankfully, we have technology which allows him to know where his people are and that we are always available.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for sharing your story. It is very moving. I am thankful to know how well your son is thriving. Thank you for being One Who Waits.
When I was in elementary school the most terrifying day was when the fire alarm was pulled and no one knew what was happening. I cried thinking my older brother was in danger. I asked the teachers where he was and they kept saying he was okay. I needed to hear that he was across the field with his class and I didn’t get that response. I was a wreck until I saw him with his class across the field. I bolted and gave him a huge hug, which was so embarrassing for him in front of all his friends! I told him how I thought he was hurt and he explained that no one got hurt and everyone got out safely. Since then I always felt the need to tell those who love me where I’d be because I never want them to feel that fear.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
I understand your sentiments exactly, Brandi. I appreciate it when people I love tell me exactly where they will be. I grew up with parents that did this and now I do the same for my family. Thank you for sharing your important story. It will enlighten someone today, I am sure.
Thank you! This touched my heart in two ways today. As our oldest started kindergarten and ‘forgot’ his favorite stuffed animal that never left his side on his last overnight to grandma’s. As our baby flies through her first year, growing teeth and outgrowing clothes left and right. But especially, one month to the day of a hurtful situation with my sister and parents a month ago that I haven’t quite recovered from. I told my husband Friday that I had pulled back and away since, in hurt and in fear of making it worse by speaking or acting from that hurt. I didn’t like the distance but couldn’t get past the hurt to do anything about it. Your words today were what I needed to soften my heart, gain a little perspective and forgive. Thank you for this gift. “Knowing where our people are” is important to us as adults too, as we face life with our fragile hearts… And try to be an example to the little eyes that watch us every day. Thank you for making it a little easier to do that today!
Patricia B. Taylor says
Every life needs a foudation to build upon. A keystone is religion, which ever your choice may be. I love kids but don’t care for a lot of parents today. What you are doing is how it should be if you have children. Fortunately I was raised what Unitarians were originally. We learned, discussed, accepted all beliefs and developed understanding and tolerance for all. I would go to church on Sunday, run over to the Cogregational Church to teach a Sunday School class, and attended Baptist Bible School in the summer. When you see and hear about the vandalism in/at churches and cemeteries, it has to be a cry for help. Our holidays are spent shopping while only a few know/remember why we have the holiday. The old “Blue Laws” need to be brought back, electronic gadgets shelved for a day, and families doing things together.
So needed this today…
That’s it, that’s all I got.
I always say “remember who you are” to my young adults. I believe it is comforting and empowering. How touched I was when leaving for a tough and emotional meeting my daughter said it to me!
Rachel, so lovely as always. It makes me feel so full to know people like you are on the same journey as I. Every morning I walk my twin nine-year-old boys out to the bus-stop and every afternoon I meet them there. One of the boys overheard my mother ask me, somewhat disdainfully, how long I was going to do that. I said as long as they wanted me to. My son said, “I hope you always do it.” They know I’ll be there, always… My very best to you.
Jennie Goutet says
I’m friends with Kristin and I can see why she loves you. 🙂 I’m also friends with Anna.
I don’t have anything more interesting to say than your post touched me. But it did.
Thank you! This is beautiful, as all your writing is. It’s a heart felt reminder to keep our loved ones close even when they are away. Thank you for sharing.
anna whiston-donaldson says
This is an incredibly beautiful post. I love the concept of how comforting it is to know where your people are. Practicing the PRESENCE. Thank you for sharing Rare Bird with your readers today. I hope they will be blessed by it.
Shannon Rose says
This post really grabbed my heart. My 8 year old daughter has had such a strong attachment to me since the day she was born. My husband jokes we are still attached by an invisible umbilical cord. As she has entered into 3rd grade this year, she needs me more than ever. She needs to truly “know where her people are”. I am so thankful you wrote this today. My heart needed it, and it helps me look to my Sam girl with new eyes. God bless!!!
I have been reading your words for a long time but rarely comment, even though they almost always touch my heart. This post made me want to share one of my childhood memories.
When I was six or seven, both my sister and I were in a dance recital. My performances ended before hers and I was tired, so my mom sent me home with a friend. My dad and brother were supposed to be home. The friend’s mom dropped me off and didn’t wait to see that I got inside, so I stood alone at my front door in the dark and cold, crying and scared. I finally gathered the courage to cross the street and knock on a neighbor’s door. They, of course, cared for me until a parent returned home. Thirty years later and I can still remember that fear and pain.
I have never thought about explicitly telling my boys about those emergency plans because I don’t like to create fear based on highly unlikely events, but I now feel like a little conversation is better than nothing. I live in an earthquake zone, so there’s that. I’m going to think about my phrasing a long time- your words will help with that. Thank you.
I needed this today too! I read it with tears streaming down my face. I remember these times of his “first” days of everything. My son (an only child) is 12, and it feels like he is moving away from me. I remember a time when his “need to know where his people were” was so strong. Friends say he will come back to that. I always let him know where I am whether he seems to want to know or not. I caught a glimpse of the old him a few weeks ago when I thought I may have to miss one of his travel soccer games…he said “no you can’t miss my game”! Whatever I thought I may have to do, I quickly decided that no-I could not miss his soccer game. I live for those glimpses now…the small ways he shows me that he still “needs to know where his people are”. I look so forward to your posts, and the love that reaches out of them.
Teresa Selensky says
Thank you so much for sharing your soul through your writing, Rachel. I am crying as I write this, because, once again, like so many times before, your words have struck a chord in my heart. I struggle so very much with that fine line of waiting for my children as they head out into the world and wrapping my arms tightly around them to protect them from THEIR fears and MINE. My oldest is 11, and last year he said, “Well, what do I have to look forward to if there is no magic in the world?” after talking with me about Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I could tell that he had doubts, but, like him, I just wanted the magic to last, so I kept avoiding his questions. This particular day, I could no longer make anything up. I could tell by the way he asked me that I would have to tell him the truth. He sobbed as we talked. He even asked me to make a doctor’s appointment for him. He thought there was something wrong with him. This broke my heart. I made the appointment, though, to ease his fears and to ease mine. Racing thoughts and depression are major traits in my family. Seeing this play out in my child was excruciating. Fortunately, there was a preceptor with the doctor that day. When I shared privately with her what my son had said, this was her response: “Some people are much more sensitive to their role in the universe. They simply do no just accept that this is the way the world is. They believe that they can do something about it and feel that they SHOULD do something about it. They are affected much more deeply by the happenings of the world than others are who are less sensitive.” My heart just stopped. I wanted to hug her! When I think of her words, when I read and reread your post about “The Fireflies” and “The Noticers,” when I pray the “Angel of God” with my children and for my children, I am comforted. Recently, after seeing a news clip on TV, he again cried to me. It was a clip of the ISIS group and what is happening in the Middle East. He said, “I don’t want them to come here and make us live like that!” I heard the preceptor’s words in my head as I held him, cried with him, and we prayed together for our country and for the people hurt by this horrible hatred. I knew I had to be honest with him, but that I also had to help him feel safe. What you wrote today was beautiful. There is something so powerful and comforting in KNOWING that someone is waiting for you and praying for you. I was able to comfort my son that night by talking with him about what makes our country safer right now than those in the Middle East, by talking with him about what makes our Military different than those of the Middle East, and by holding him and explaining to him why we pray daily for our nation, for our leaders, for our religious liberty, and for the strengthening of families. Rachel, what you write about helps us to all see why tuning into our families and their needs is so very important and so very needed right now and always. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your worries, hopes, fears and joys with all of us. Knowing we are not alone; knowing there are ways to get through the dark times; knowing there ARE words and actions that can help and comfort; well, I don’t have any words to describe how much that means. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God Bless you and yours.
Krista Shook says
This brought tears to my eyes thinking of my 4 year old daughter. However, what also brought tears to my eyes was thinking about all the wonderful people in my life, my “family” (biological or not). Somehow, when I know where “my people” are… that they are praying for, thinking of, and cheering me on in this crazy life, it gets a little easier. We all need those people in our lives, just like our littles need us. Thanks for the great post!
Oh, how I loved this. I have a similar fire alarm story. We were staying in a suite with my parents at a resort when my daughter was a year old. The fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and we all rushed out and started to make our way down the stairs. Suddenly, my dad, who had been in front of us, turned and started to speed back up the stairs. We called after him, wondering what on earth he was doing, but he just kept going. He reappeared a few minutes later, his face flush, his breath short. “Oh, thank God. There she is,” he said, nodding to my daughter in my arms. I was at once touched that she meant so much to him and offended that he thought we wouldn’t snatch her up, but it was the middle of the night after all so I forgave him the lack of confidence in my parenting abilities.
Rona Renner says
I love this post… such a heart felt message.
I think of my youngest daughter (26) and her upcoming trip to India and
other places in Asia. She will be traveling alone for many months, but she will be with
friends (old and new) along the way. I will be saying a Metta prayer every
day for her well being. I know she will be able to reach “her people”
via SKYPE and new ones will be on her path. The deep we feel for our children love is forever.
Thank you for your words.
I loved this and it made me teary-eyed as well. I ponder these things often and daily pray for my kids to be safe and happy.
I just put my 5th and 4th graders on the bus this morning for the first day of school. It will be the last year my son rides the bus as well. When I am blessed to be at home during these tender years I stand at the bus stop and wait for it’s return passage from our no through access roads on their way to school. It takes about seven minutes from the time they get on the bus until they come back by. Only seven minutes.
I wait….and I wave and blow kisses. Sometimes the kids return them and others they are so safe and happy they forget. It doesn’t stop me though, because the last thing they say after “I love you” as they step away toward the bus is, “You will wait right?” And so I do, I wait because I love them. I wait because I know it reassures them that I am here for them always. I wait because I never know if it will be my last chance to wait.
Your posts always inspire me and I am grateful for your transparent heart and desire to connect and share. Bless you!
Dear Rachel, I came across this post because a friend post it on Facebook and it really meant a lot to me! It is always comforting to find others that share your feeling. “Knowing where my people are” has always been the most important thing for me in a life full of change, moves to strange countries, and sending kids off to college. The need to know they are ok wherever they are never ends!
Currently I have a daughter who is married, a son who has chosen to serve others by been a missionary, another daughter in college and a 15 years old at home. We recently moved to a country with a high risk of earthquakes, something completely new to me. In the past months we’ve had a couple of mild earthquakes and it is scary, we need to be prepared. But whenever I think about it my biggest concern is How am I going to know where everybody is?, how am I going to let them know that we are ok?!
Your words: “Your mere existence, whether in presence or in thought, is enough to make a fearful heart believe it’s all going to be okay.” were just what I needed to remember today. They know I think of them, they know I pray for them and that we will be ok. Just remembering that, my friend, brought me peace today and I thank you for that.
As I read the paragraph about not underestimating the power of knowing where your people are, it occurred to me how important it is to also know WHO your people are. My son and I are a family of two, living hundreds of miles from family. But we have people here who love us, and whom we love, fiercely. I will call them to mind today, one by one, and bless them for being “our people.”
I remember very clearly my mom walking me to the bus stop and being there for me when I can home….I also remember the day She wasn’t waiting for me. She didn’t wait because I had gotten older and was embarrassed she was there. It hurt my heart so much when I didn’t see her and I didn’t know how to tell her I wish she still waited. I’m 32 years old now and I remember that feeling so clearly of her not being there. I put this story so any parent that reads this will still wait, even if your child rolls their eyes or seems to not care….they care. It matters tremendously.
I love reading your posts. Honestly. Love. I wanted to share why I’m finally writing a comment.
I have PTSD from childhood traumas, an assault in my tween years and a rape in college. So my need to feel safe is a vital part of my daily living.
When Sept 11th, 2001 happened I was living in Portland, Oregon. My entire family, brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were in the Marriott across the street from the Twin Towers for my best friend and cousin’s wedding the next day. I didn’t hear from every single member of my family for three days. As you know the tower fell and destroyed the Marriott alongside every single thing in it’s path. I shook for three days uncontrollably; lost in my world so far away. I never felt so alone. I was glued to television as that was the only way I could hope to see or hear anything about them.
Most everyone was safe and touring Times Square when the attacks occurred. My other cousin who was hotel manager of the Marriott at the time got all staff and guests out safely well ahead of the destruction. I am so grateful for them in my life. they’ll never truly know how much.
I’m a Buddhist. And I believe we are all brothers and sisters. I was frozen however, at the time and did not know how to reach out. I shut down.
Years later, mother of two fabulous ladies (5, 2yo) I emphasize the importance of knowing where our people are. At all times. Thanks for your plans of action and how you work with your children on knowing these things and feeling safe. Moving is SO challenging and for our little ones it can be too much at times.
Your post inspires me and reminds me of the good in people. The love we all share and have for our people, ourselves and our other brothers and sisters.
Thanks for such eloquent and beautiful work.
I am so glad that I stumbled across your blog Rachel! We have also moved recently, from Australia to the Netherlands. My eldest son is almost 4 and it has had a large impact on him. He constantly asks where everyone is, and has to make sure we are all where we are supposed to be. He starts school after his 4th birthday next month and I am worried about how he will cope with being there by himself. Your blog is helping me to see that even though it might be difficult for him, that with time, care and patience he will be ok. Thanks so much!
There’s no comfort quite like that of knowing your children are safe, with or without you…and as they grow, so grows the trust that if we can’t be with them literally, we always know our Heavenly Father is. At 16, my son witnessed a tragic accident that took his best friends life right in front of him…I won’t forget what it felt like to rush to the scene not knowing the circumstances, seeing my son’s face and holding him tighter than ever. Such a comfort to know our people are waiting…
Maggie Pinque says
I just dropped my eldest off at college on Saturday for the first time.
His sister will be a senior in high school this year.
We are not checker-inners, per se, but I do like to know where the are.
When they were younger, my son, who was probably 5 or 6 had a true fear of fire in the house. We have never had one. He had never seen one. But something had him counting the number of times the light flashed on the smoke detector EVERY night until he could fall asleep.
I called a friend of ours who is a firefighter. The whole family went through the house, room by room, and talked about what would happen in an emergency. We came up with the place we should all meet if we ever got separated. We came up with a family password if someone came to pick them up and they didn’t know about it. (For the record, we used the word “bullshit” because my kids KNEW that would be the only way they could use it.) After that visit, that fear left my son and he slept soundly.
KNOW your people.
KNOW where they are.
Oh my goodness! You break me open. You crack right into my life and spill out my secrets and my wonderful firefly ‘s secrets. You whisper softness that I need.
At the beginning of each school year I give my boys a rock to put in their pockets with the words love & peace written on the rock. I tell them it is a reminder of my love and if it gets lost, it’s ok because our love for each other is in our hearts and we can always find a new cool rock together! My youngest lost his on the first day and he told me it is ok because love lasts longer than life! I said yes and when some one finds the rock it will put a smile on their face!
I’ve been following you for some time. Love ALL of your posts. Our daughters are adults, but I totally get it -Knowing Where My People Are – I think it’s timely, since we’re in the month of September, and the 9/11 Anniversary. My husband worked for the DoD, he called and told me what was happening. My first words – ‘when can you come home?’ Our younger daughter was at work, wanted to come here, but wasn’t allowed until everyone was finished their jobs for the day. Our older daughter was on the phone with us several times. We need the connection with our loved ones, even now when they’re grown up.
Today was my child’s first day of preschool. For the past year we have been in a home based school because I have been too afraid to let her away from me because I’m afraid the person who hurt her when she was a baby would be there. She was super excited but woke up often in the middle of the night until I slept by her side. In the morning we went to school and she was fine, to the point that she comforted other kids. I felt safe because we were across the playground from each other (I work at her school) and she didn’t worry once. I am so proud of my go getter child!
Rachel with managedmoms.com says
I just shared this on my Facebook page. This is so beautiful and now that my kids are 16 and 13, I am reminded how much this still holds true. Thanks for this lovely article that touched my heart.
Barbara McDonald says
I’m a retired teacher who still has a son in school. When he was in either sixth or seventh grade, I received a message that the students had been evacuated from the school because of smoke in the building. My heart jumped to my throat and I found myself looking for my keys to run up to the school to try to find him and bring him home immediately. But instead, I found God’s voice reminding me of the numerous (and I do mean NUMEROUS) times I had been through training after training of what to do to protect students in high stress situations, fire drills, etc. He reminded me of MY training and and assured me that each of the teachers and administrators in that school had been through that sort of training also, and that my child would be kept safe. I was so grateful for that reminder that I wrote an email to the teacher that had Nathan that period and each of the administrators to thank them for taking care of my child. Each time there’s been a big situation at his school, or just a successful opening of school, I always try to remember to email my sons’ teachers and principals to just thank them for their hard work and dedication.
I know this doesn’t exactly fit your blog entry, but I wanted you to know that sometimes Moms have to know where THEIR people are, too! 😉
Thank you for this, Rachel. My daughters and I are trying to find our people as we have lost both my mom and sister in the last 8 months. I have felt alone and like “my people” are gone…the ones you call to share a cute thing your child does or a frustration or just a moment when even as a 43 year old, you want your mom or your big sister. The sadness comes flooding back like the loss just happened the day before.
So, we are working to find different people who tell us they are honored to be “our people” and I will make sure to remind myself and my girls where those people are.
My 2.5 yr old has been in parented swim lessons for 2 yrs. this summer she began the transition to un parented lessons. She was excited to swim “alone” with her friends & the instructors. I wasn’t sure she was ready. She always looks for me in the window too! I thought my heart was going to stop the first time she slipped under the water with out me to catch her!
Thanks, Rachel, for your encouraging post My five boys are ages 16 to 26, and I am so glad for Skype to connect with those far away and texting for those who are late arriving home in the evenings. Bless you for sharing from your heart with all of us moms!
Your posts touch me every time. I haven’t commented before as I’m not very eloquent but today’s post has meant so much. I’ve spent the past week at my 7 year old daughter’s hospital bedside. The hours have passed slowly but the smile and breathless, happy “Hello Mom” I get when she wakes up from her naps, makes it all worth it.
You are a blessing and your words make a big difference in my life and undoubtedly the lives of many others
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for letting me know you are here, Mae. Your words are beautiful to my writer’s heart. It fuels me to know my words have made a difference. I hope that your daughter is healing. She is blessed to have you by her side.
My four year old has stayed with our one year old son in the church nursery before to keep him company when he’s had a hard time. I love that she’s willing to miss her own fun class to stay and play with and comfort him.
This is such a lovely post. Even as a grown woman I feel comforted knowing where my people are. My parents live in Africa and every time we have a What’s App chat it warms my heart. I was mostly touched by your daughter saying she knew you where at home praying. In our crazy rushed world, running from one activity to the next. I know our kids know I love them and will be there no matter what but I wonder if they even realize that I stop to pray for them. I am a prime example of crazy busy 🙂 thanks for the gentle reminder.
Every time we part, my daughter asks where I will be. When I drop her off at school, when I leave the house to work, even when I tuck her in at night, she wants to know if I’ll be upstairs or down. I never thought of it this way but now it is all so clear to me. She just wants to know where her people are.
I have been following your blog since last few days and I am able to relate all of your blogs that I have read so far. My feelings resonate with this particular blog. I have a 9 month old baby girl and she is very attached to me. I am going back to work soon and I really worry sometimes how my baby will do in day care without me. I think I am definitely going to be “the one who waits” types. My parents live far away and every time my heart warms up when I talk with them over the phone. It really feels great to know that even if your loved ones are far away, they are there.
Love reading all your posts. Please keep writing.
Love and best wishes,
Thanks so much for always sharing from your heart. It is truly a gift. I read this post with a heavy heart knowing what it feels like to be on the flip side of knowing where your people are. I have a prodigal daughter who walked out the door at age 14 and chooses to live a life separate from me and her sister, a life far removed from the faith in God she was raised with. The biggest struggle I have faced in the 5 1/2 years I have waited for God to bring her home is the not knowing where she is, if she she safe, cared for or loved. I know better than most the value of knowing where your people are and the deep need for a mother to always know that her babies are safe. Your children are blessed to know that they have a loving mother always there for them. I hold on to the hope that God will restore what the enemy has stolen but I still lie awake at night wondering where my baby girl is and praying that God will protect her until He brings her home. Thanks for the reminder to keep praying while we are apart.
This is the first time I have visited your blog…what a great post for me to start on! I am at the other end of knowing where your people are-a year ago I moved in with my 85 year old father after my mother passed away. I knew where he was, I just wanted to be there everyday and know that he was ok. It has not been an easy year, but it has been so worth it!
This week was hard. My little girl (the oldest of three) started kindergarten this week. When I drop her off she cries. The teacher reassures me she stops right after I leave, but this does not help as I cry in the car driving away. Today I walked away from her crying on the playground all by herself. It was one of the hardest things I have done. I couldn’t comfort or reassure her enough. All I want to do is go back and hug her.
I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. You’re blog is a HUGE inspiration for me and although its been a BIG struggle, I’m still working on my commitment to be more present. Thank you!!!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for such an honor! To know my words have made a difference in your life is such a gift! Thank you!
Tracy Brown says
On August 25, my son died at 18 years young. A tragic plane crash abruptly ended the life on this earth of 4 perfect souls. Young men who were cherished by their families and friends in inmeasurable ways. I do not share this to ask you share in our private grief; moreover it is an appreciation for this post which speaks to me on so many levels.
Carey H says
This one makes me cry every time I read it. My younger daughter deals with anxiety on a daily basis, and I have learned over the years that the most important thing I can do for her is make sure she knows where I am and how to reach me. She can get through anything as long as she knows she can call me if she needs me.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Carey. You are ‘one who can be counted on’ and that is a very special trait.
My whole life, my family has always waved goodbye from the front porch – – no matter the weather, no matter the hour, no matter how frequent the visit. No matter where you are going, they wave as if you are leaving on a long journey. They wave until the car is out of sight, and only then shut the door and turn out the light. I remember waving from the car as a child and seeing my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and later, my parents, my sisters and brothers, waving back. I never knew that not everyone did this until I got married. Leaving my in-laws’ homes after a visit, the porch would always be dark and empty before we even got into the car. It just doesn’t feel as good.
I am happy to pass down my family’s centuries old good-bye tradition to my children. They are porch wavers, too.
Rachel Stafford says
Oh Angela. I come from a family of porch wavers too. And you are right — there is so much significance in that beautiful gesture. Thank you for being here and bringing smile to my weary heart tonight.
Kelly Balarie says
Sweet encouragement today, my friend. XOXO
Another wonderfully insightful blog, Rachel you help us make sense of the world. I will make sure my children know where their people are. Even as an adult I need to know where my people are, if I don’t know where my husband, my parents are, I am extremely anxious…. Your post made me realise if I am that anxious as a grown woman, the fear for a child would be even more intense.
This is just an amazing story!
[…] found myself over at Hands Free Mama this morning, and as I read Rachel’s post on Knowing Where Your People Are my eyes started to fill. (I’m having one of those days where I feel less than. Less than the […]
[…] It is not uncommon for our loved ones to lay their fears before us and we just don’t even know what to do with them. It can be excruciating to send the people we love off to school…onto to the field…off to college…into battle…or into territories unknown when all we want to do is hug them to our chest and never let them go.~~Hands Free Mama […]
[…] blogs. I’ve never met her but would love to drink coffee with her and glean advice. This post called Where Your People Are is so good. I need to make sure that my girls remember to just know […]