I should’ve known not to get so confident. I hadn’t gotten lost once in this new big city of mine. I’d traveled interstates, back roads, and busy thoroughfares. Every time I’d punched an address into my new navigation system, it had taken me there without fail.
I’d become so confident that I even stopped printing out paper directions as a back up or calling people ahead of time asking for landmarks along the route. Those were the safeguards I’d used for over a decade to compensate for my severely flawed sense of direction. I am known to turn the wrong way out of the bathroom at a restaurant and not be able to find my family. I am known to fear that my car’s been stolen until my Noticer daughter tells me we’re in the wrong parking lot. When my friends heard I was moving to a new, much larger city, they worried. They suggested I not leave a two-mile radius for awhile. But with the help of a new navigation system, I’ve had a new lease on life. I’ve been taking my children to places I never thought I could go by myself. I stopped gripping the steering wheel with sweaty hands when venturing into uncharted territories.
Well … until Saturday morning.
My daughters had their first swim meet with their new team at an aquatics center that was about twenty minutes away from our house. After years of stressful crack-of-dawn departures, we’d learned to get prepared the night before. All the bags were packed. Swim suits and flip flops were laid out. I had the address of where I was going written on a sticky note next to the bags. All I had to do was punch the address in. The night before I thought briefly about gathering my direction back ups, but I happily reminded myself I didn’t need them anymore.
That morning when I punched in the address of the swim center, it didn’t show up. I tried typing in the name of the facility. No luck. I tried just the street. That didn’t work either. For five minutes, I punched anything I thought might get us in the general vicinity. I noticed my fingers becoming more aggressive with each fail and the air in the car was getting warm. Suddenly my hazard lights came on automatically. I frantically felt around the steering wheel for the off button. The obnoxious clicking sound was nearly loud enough to wake the neighbors. I had a full-on sweat going now.
“Why is this address not in existence?” I growled to myself. “And how in the world do I turn these hazard lights off?” I angrily punched more buttons on the dash and ended up turning on all the lights in the car and opening the trunk.
I threw the car in park and ran back in the house. I decided I would print out the directions like the old days. Of course, the computer was slow. The printer was slower. We were going to be late. I could feel my frustration level rising. It was my children’s first meet with their new team. I’d wanted to get there early because so much of it would be new.
I returned to the car with directions in hand. The hazards were still going strong. I tried a few more buttons to no avail. I headed out of the neighborhood creeping past two of my new neighbors’ homes. Although I felt like I knew them well enough to ask for help, their houses were dark. I decided waking them on a Saturday morning would not be the neighborly way. I stopped my car and punched a few more buttons. The agonizing clicking stopped. “Oh thank you, God. Now please help me get there,” I cried out.
We began driving. I told myself rational things like, “The girls are going to miss the warm up, but that is okay. It is not the end of the world.” Those thoughts were quickly drowned out by my inner critic, “They are going to miss their warm up. This is a bad first impression. Why didn’t you figure out where you were going last night?”
And then from the backseat, four dreaded words: “Did you wear shoes?” the big one said to the little one.
I turned around to see my shoeless child staring at me with a shy smile.
“Where.Are.Your.Shoes?” I asked through gritted teeth.
“I forgot,” my younger daughter said meekly.
“Ugh! Your only job this morning was to put on your suit and shoes,” I said barely calmly, struggling to keep my voice down, “and that was all you had to do.”
Surprisingly, it was the big sister who started crying, not the guilty party. “She didn’t mean to, Mama!” she defended. “Please don’t be mad at her.”
My older daughter knew all too well that Rachel With No Direction and Little Sister with No Shoes was a terrible combo. I knew why my older child was crying. She thought I was going to blow like I used to. And I thought I was going to too.
“Why? Why? Why? Why is this happening?” I felt myself becoming irrational with each passing kilometer. My inner drill sergeant (who I’ve worked on chilling out) was about to show her face—I could just feel it. But for a brief moment, I was able to think through our options. I imagined my child walking from a parking lot to a natatorium without shoes. Not ideal. I also imagined that like most swim centers there was a policy of wearing shoes in the building. We had to have shoes, I surmised. I glanced around hoping a Wal-Mart or a drugstore would magically appear. Nothing. I turned the car around to retrieve the shoes sitting by the door at our house. But I wasn’t going to go quietly.
This weird little whining voice started coming out of me. It was the same voice I used at age eight when my dad wanted me to take a very large dose of Pepto-Bismol, and I had a complete meltdown about it. “I hate being lost. I hate being late. I don't know where I am going,” I whined. “And she doesn’t have shoes. No shoes. And usually there's always a random pair of flip flops in the car, but not today. No, not today. And I don’t know where I am going.” I realized I was talking to myself in a slightly disturbing way but I could not stop. Because if I did, I would scream or curse or do them both simultaneously. I managed to keep it to a high-pitched whimper.
After retrieving the shoes and hearing a small “thank you” and “I'm sorry” from my younger child we headed back into the unknown. I handed my phone to my tech-savvy older daughter. “Try to see if you can find something called Maps on there. Make it talk to me. Make it tell me where I am going like Daddy makes his phone do,” I begged.
After a few minutes she exclaimed, “Got it! There’s an aquatic center by that name 93 miles away.”
I held on to my paper directions with dear life and tried not to cry.
We made two correct turns and when I wasn’t sure about the next turn, I did my other foolproof method of getting where I needed to go: Go to the Direction Asking Place that has gas pumps and cold sodas.
The gas station attendant and the customer both pointed and spoke slowly to me. They saw a sweaty woman on edge.
Within five minutes of driving we spotted the swim facility right off the interstate. The girls cheered and I said a prayer of gratitude for our safe arrival. The center was brand new which explained why it was not in the navigation system or on the phone maps. Apologizing is not one of my strengths, but I have learned its vital importance despite how hard it is to say those words at times.
“I am sorry I got upset. Getting lost is really scary for me, and I really wish I could stay calm in those situations. Next time I will plan better. I will search for the location the night before. I learned something today. This was a learning experience for Mom,” I rambled.
“It’s okay, Mom,” my children said in unison.
“We know about you and directions,” said my older daughter matter-of-factly. I found it comforting that she understands my weaknesses just as I try to understand hers.
We went inside and immediately asked for help getting to the pool area. It was crowded, loud, and intimidating but we were able to join the warm-up in progress. A few minutes later, it was time for my older daughter to swim. I didn’t see her in the lane she was supposed to be in. Pretty soon she came up beside me in tears.
“I missed my event! They do the swimmer check-in differently here. I thought I was waiting in the right place, but I wasn’t.” My goggle-clad child leaned into my chest trying to hide her despair from passersby. “Can we go home?” she asked on the verge of tears.
I looked into her eyes and held her gently by the arms. “Today is the first swim meet you had in your new state, in a new pool, with new rules. They do things differently here. We will go talk to someone to make sure you know what to do on the next event. This day is a learning experience. You now know something you didn’t before.” After she nodded solemnly and looked a little more hopeful, I added one more thing. “You know how you have that qualifying time on your bulletin board as your goal? Well, you are closer to that goal today than you were yesterday because of what you just experienced.”
My older daughter went to talk to her coach and my younger daughter motioned me over. “I am not sure where I am supposed to go,” she said nervously.
She and I walked around the two huge pools looking for the Clerk of Course. We heard the officials testing the notification system. We learned that the race would pause momentarily while the buzzer was adjusted. My inner drill sergeant wanted to fuss, complain, or at least let out an exasperated sigh, but instead I looked down at my child and realized this lull might just be an unexpected blessing.
My daughter was staring out the window. “What are you looking at?” I asked.
“There is something yellow out there. Maybe a bird, maybe a flower. I am just thanking God that we made it here today.”
I leaned down next to her, my eyes filling with tears. As she directed me to the yellow dot, I realized something. I hadn’t handled myself as calmly as I hoped that morning. I wish I could’ve laughed it off like my husband does when problems arise. I wish I could have said, “It’s an adventure!” like my laid-back friends when they get lost. But nevertheless, there was a silver lining. My child honed in on something I said in my time of distress and it had stuck with her. And what she remembered was a good thing; it was a good thing. I am not quite where I want to be, but I am closer than I was before.
So in light of finding my way to this place of peace and self-acceptance, I offer you some words of direction. Take these words as a gift of camaraderie … my “we’re in this together” … my “we’re not perfect, but we’re trying.” Take this message and hold on to it for those times your inner navigation system threatens to steer you away from what matters most.
Closer Than I Was Before
My angry words spilled out. I spoke too soon. Morning got the best of me.
But I didn’t let guilt consume me like I used to.
I said I was sorry and asked to begin again.
I am closer than I was before.
My inner perfectionist reared its ugly head. I compared. I criticized. I told myself it wasn’t good enough.
But then my heart spoke up and said, “Stop. That’s not what matters.”
I looked past the mess and the mayhem and saw the flowers instead of the weeds.
I am closer than I was before.
My day was too packed. I overscheduled. I underloved. I was too rushed, too hurried, too frenzied.
But then I stopped in the middle of the chaos and removed the ticking clock weighing heavy on my soul.
I touched the fading summer freckles on my daughter’s nose and felt the pressure wane.
I am closer than I was before.
Every second is not grasping what matters, but now I have awareness I didn’t have before.
I am only human.
I am learning too.
Love, forgiveness, and grace will be the fiber that holds this day, this family, this one precious life together when it threatens to come apart at the seams.
I am closer than I was before.
© Rachel Macy Stafford 2014
Friends of The Hands Free Revolution, I have been WAITING for the day this book would be available to you! Yell Less, Love More by The Orange Rhino comes out next week on Oct. 15! Sheila McCraith has helped me so much on my journey to chose a peaceful response. In this book, she provides action plans, tips, and powerful revelations that will empower you and enable you to feel hopeful (and normal) about your struggles. Yell Less, Love More yanks the cover of shame off yelling in a way that I have never experienced before. I was privileged to read an advanced copy this summer and found that it enhanced every aspect of my life by enriching my relationships, my health, and my happiness. This book is a life-changing gift. You can learn more here or pre-order here.
Also, I will be sharing my revolutionary perspective on Hands Free living with Experience Life magazine during their “A Healthy Revolution: The Virtual Conference.” By registering for this FREE online event, you can hear from today's most progressive experts about how to live happier and healthier even in the face of real challenges. Click here for more info on this life-changing opportunity.
In the comment section below, please share your stories, struggles, and triumphs on the topic of finding your way to a more peaceful response in the midst of frustration and stress. Each time you share, you help someone else not feel so alone. I am grateful for you!
“Go to the Direction Asking Place that has gas pumps and cold sodas.” I love you. 🙂
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Is it called something else? 🙂
The love is mutual, my dear Katrina. I am so glad to know one of my favorite writers in the whole world comes here and reads my (long) posts. Thank you for being here.
Ashley N. says
Don’t you know that long posts actually effect change much more effective;y than short ones? When I was learning to be a copywriter I learned that’s been true for years, and hasn’t changed even in this world of quick fixes. I used to be embarrassed about my “incapable of stating anything briefly” tendency as well, but learning that (and the support of friends) helped me know that it’s a gift, not a weakness. I love you. Thank you for sharing your heart with us again. I could feel absolutely every moment you described as if it were me. I am so proud of you for getting the directions and getting the shoes. SO proud. It is so hard, and you did it! An inspiration as always. Our rushed and angry world needs more of you. 🙂
Rachel Macy Stafford says
You are so sweet to take this time to encourage me! I had totally forgotten what I read about the effectiveness of longer posts until you mentioned it! There were some hateful comments about the length of this post on The Hands Free Revolution page but my loyal readers quickly came to my defense and pointed out that no one was making them read it. I had a good chuckle and felt so loved. I was just working on tomorrow’s post. Somehow I have gotten over the 1500 word range again, but I am not going to let it stop me from hitting publish. Thanks to you and so many of my wonderful readers who tell me if I write it, they will read it. I am so blessed by you all! Thank you for all the kind and encouraging things you said to me in your message. I won’t forget.
Every post leaves me in tears which are a combination of guilt and hope. Hope that I too can change, despite years of failing, for the sake of my 9 year old daughter.
Wow, Katie you captured my thoughts exactly! I look forward to each post and hope that I can put into action the words of wisdom Rachel shares each week.
ME TOOOO! EVERY.TIME. Hoping everyday to change and that my 3 + 4 yr will not remember “bad mommy” days 🙂
I feel exactly the same way. To know that someone else feels the feelings, has similar thoughts and experiences, and comes out the other side is truly a gift. I am teary with every post I read and constantly motivated to do better, to be better. Thank you for this.
Me three. Each and every one. They seem to be perfectly timed and yes, it is guilt but a lot of hope too, these posts are a light shining through to me and my kids.
Mary @ A Productive Endeavor says
I just love this post and the encouragement it offers! I can so identify with your statement of lost mom and shoeless child being a bad combination! I have my triggers and when they line up with a whiny or tired kid… oh not good!
Being prepared and planning ahead is a lesson I am still working on. With 3 kids, I simply can not wing it anymore!
I love how you write! Thanks for this nugget today!
Wah, that was it. Exactly what I go through when the same thing happens to me. Many are the times I have found myself in the same situation. Due to lack of earlier preparation, I find that when we are about to leave I cannot locate the important things that we need. I get frantic, I sweat, I whine and the whining eventually turns to screaming. I get impatient and blame those who are not even involved. I become irritable then the helplessness and hopelessness takes over. Sometimes I even feel like not going all together. And you know what, I may end up realising that whatever I was looking for is right there but due to my state of mind, I could not even see it. Other times it is even about clothes because I do not have a habit of deciding what to wear in advance. So when we are just remaining to dress up, I cant really make up my mind what to wear or what my children are wearing. I prepare clothes then realise something is wrong or they don’t fit the occasion and I end up getting late. Personally I end up wearing several and changing over and over again. Rachel, you are an angel. You touch exactly that part that needs repair. I need to cultivate that peaceful response. Not that I don’t know the value of preparing in advance, I just don’t take it seriously. Sometimes I end up sitting on the couch getting late to cook because I can’t decide what my family will have for dinner. I do not think earlier so when it is already past time, I cannot make up my mind and I feel desperate and wish I could just get to bed and sleep. By the way since I started following your blogs, I have realised that all the misery I have been going through are out of my own making and I have started reorganizing my life. I may not be where I wish to be but I will never give up on myself . With each step I get closer to my destiny: Handsfree living. Thank you Rachel.
There are so many times when I read your work and feel like you’re telling stories of my life! I can’t find my way out of a paper bag and then feeling like a crazy person for how upset I get about being lost…this helped feel a little less crazy 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
This JUST happened to me on Saturday albeit only for a birthday party, but still, that lost feeling is the worst. We’ve been in our new city for over a year and I’m still printing out directions, studying maps and getting lost. With practice, I have been able to tone down the frustration but there is something that is so disconcerting about heading in the wrong direction – my head and heart fight against it. It also makes me feel so incompetent which is something that for me personally is a really big trigger of anger and frustration.
I’m sitting at my desk reading this and sobbing, simultaneously. This was my morning! All I wanted to do was yell, scream, and stomp my feet, because my five year old was just not doing what he was supposed to do…on top of everything else. I often find myself feeling like the only way my children will listen is if I yell and be a “Drill Sergeant”. Then, I get sad…is the reason bc all I do is yell? I needed this today! Thank you for sharing your heart. It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one and I’m not failing as a Mom.
That’s exactly the situation I am going through every time we have to go somewhere with my family… I would turn into that drilling sergeant and give directions with the rushed voice… Thank you for this post, made me smile that I’m not the only one out there and that it is something you can learn to control. Thanks for motivating me to do better every day! 🙂
Dawn Trepp says
I am going through a learning, growing journey myself. I found your site through a girlfriend of mine and am so happy I did!! This work is sometimes painful, and would sometimes be easier to NOT deal with, NOT talk about. But your words have helped me realize that I, too, am making progress! Thank you for your honest words!!
Susie Klein says
Sitting here in cold sweats and tears as I read this post. Such a familiar scene for me, though I am an empty-nestor so the panic is only seen by me. But it is real and has made me want to stay home forever. I am in a new state, new bigger city and get panicked when I drive on these crazy intertwining highways here in Dallas. The GPS is jus t another voice messing with my concentration.
But I will conquer this fear because I am not really ready to become house-bound. Thanks for the encouragement I saw in this post!
Mandy Hammond says
WOW!! That story was as familiar as anything could possibly be!! I am forever losing my temper with my kids when we are running late or we are not prepared or we are going to look like we don’t have it together. I’m a yeller and the car feels like a pressure cooker sometimes. I’m frustrated with myself , my kids, the situation and there’s no way to get away and take a deep breath and regroup. But I work to do better each and every day.
Your blog is an inspiration for me!
I love the name of the book “Yell less
Love more” bc that has been my promise to myself since my 49th birthday last month.
So much to say but not enough time so
THANK YOU for the inspiration to do better and love more❤️
Laurie Cassidy says
A cold wet tear escaped my 60 year old eye at the heartfelt truth of your writing.. Although what you wrote about doesn’t happen to me too much now, I remember the days that it did. Usually it went on inside my head, the self doubting, the berating of myself with should have dones, the rapid heartbeat, the panicked thinking, the stress of running on empty. I too had 2 lovely girls, who have turned into 2 beautiful successful women and now to 2 new mothers. My wish for them..well, no days like you had, but I’m sure that they will have a few, so instead my wish for them is that they will know inside that they are doing the best they can, that a mother’s job will never be perfect so don’t expect that, just keep loving and trying with no comparisons to anyone else, because your bond with each other is not like any other and in the end you will remember the joy. Here’s to embracing life, the good, the bad, the ugly and finding strength through it all. XO
Rachel Macy Stafford says
So lovely, Laurie. Thank you for sharing your heart. I am so glad you are here walking beside me on this journey.
I cannot tell you how much I love your posts. Thank you for sharing your imperfections that most people spend an enormous amount of time trying to hide.
I am a recovering perfectionist and really identify with your posts.
Thank you for sharing and helping me get closer to my goal than I was yesterday.
Indiana Lori says
I needed to hear this today. Different scenario, but it still applies. Just when I think I can’t stand one more day in this nasty apartment, I’m one day closer than I was before.
15 days. They couldn’t be moving more slowly. We’re going to court over the apartment in the middle of the move as well.
So I’m going to get up. Get dressed. And get one step closer than I was before…
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Oh Lori, I feel you. The situation you have endured for TOO many months has to amplify these feelings I described in my post. I am so thankful to know there was something in this post that resonated and helped you see a glimmer of light. 15 days. Oh you can so do this! You can do this! I am cheering you on!
Thank-you for reminding me AGAIN to not miss out on the moments that matter most.
Shoes. It’s funny how common it is, for our children to go shoe-less in the car. It has happened to us twice now recently. In August, my 11 year old son climbed ino the car for vacation, sleepy, ready for his 10 hour trip. We had packed his tennis shoes in the suitcase and left flip flops out for everyone to slide on when they woke up. My other two children did that. He did not. None of us realized it until 4 hours into the trip, in another state, when we went to stop at the rest stop and he had no shoes to wear. Other than the ones BURIED at the bottom of a trunk of suitcases that was filled to the point that it would all spill out if we opened it. No Walmart on the side of the interstate. So we took turns using the restroom, him shuffling in his dad’s oversized shoes, until we could stop at a store further down the highway. Sadly, I lectured and sighed, but his dad, who forgets everything also, scooped him into a piggy back ride at Walmart and it became an Adventure. Then two weeks ago, my 8 year old daughter went to softball practice in flip-flops. Totally forgot her cleats. She wasn’t allowed to practice since she wasn’t prepared. She was forced by the coach to sit out and watch the girls practice batting and running the bases. She was going to be catcher in the upcoming tournament, but missed that chance, since she couldn’t practice. The coach was teaching her a lesson about responsibility and coming to practice prepared. THE COACH WAS HER DAD. Who had called me once they got there and asked me to bring her cleats to practice. They were in another town 15 minutes away. I had two other children who needed rides places. I told him “no, you should have noticed while driving her there, that she didn’t have shoes. She needs reminders….she is 8.” This was the 2nd time she had gone without cleats. Last time, she wore tennis shoes and could still practice. This time was flip-flops, so he made her sit out. We find ourselves struggling with the balance of encouraging the kids to be responsible for their own selves, yet still helping/rescuing them when we are needed. And I struggle with yelling in frustration and trying to remind myself that they ARE children. And are learning from these mistakes. If I could just teach them these lessons and still maintain their sense of dignity. Sigh…..something so simple can sometimes be so hard. Loved your post today. Really hit home, as you can tell. 🙂
Rachel Macy Stafford says
I love hearing your experiences so much, Sarah. You have made me laugh, cry, and feel understood. Some posts are harder to publish than others and I knew there would be people who would not understand my reaction in the car and would say cruel things about me. I had just read one of those zingers on the Hands Free FB page, but then I came and read this. And I felt a big old hug. This was perfect. You touched also on something I struggle with — that urge to rescue and when to know the consequence must be suffered. It sounds like your family is doing a great job. Thank you for blessing me today with your sharing and to everyone who has commented. I have enjoyed reading every single comment on this post. I am so glad we are in this together!
Debbie Kelley says
I love your honesty. I love your writing style. As a mother of four adult children, grandmother of six, I can relate to this, unfortunately. I felt uncomfortable at times as I read it because I could ‘see’ myself back in the old days when I would be rushing somebody, somewhere. Back in the ‘old’ days we didn’t have GPS or Mapquest so I often found myself ‘lost’…physically and emotionally. One thing I have learned through the years is to be less hard on myself, more forgiving of myself. And I take many deep breaths…
I can relate! After many painful months of potty training, my daughter is mostly trained now. But the other day, we let her wear cloth shoes to school and she had an accident. I had to carry her out because her shoes were soaked. And yesterday, I forgot her lunch for the first time EVER! We’d had an extremely traumatic event happen before school (had a POISONOUS snake in our garage – EEK!) and it derailed me so much, I forgot to get her lunch to the car. Again, we’ve learned and now her backpack has snacks and a box lunch and spare shoes are now in her backpack and car. All great learning events that make me prepare better next time and things that test my patience and ability to keep calm. While I feel so inadequate as a parent when things like this happen, it’s another opportunity to remind myself of what’s important (my daughter had stuff to eat, no one got bitten by the snake, etc.) and what I should be grateful for instead.
Kristin Shaw says
One of the (many) things I love about you is your willingness to admit that you are human. You show, through example, that we all mess up. We all have our anxieties. And we can all learn from it and try to remember to find the adventure. I think of your words often, and they ring in my head when I am struggling. Much love. xo
Ugh…I do this all the time…to my husband. I HATE being late, I HATE when people are waiting on me. The amount of anxiety I get at letting people down…of not being there for them. How frustrated I get with my husband who daudles. My daughter is only 18 months, I’m praying I can break this by the time she’s old enough to notice (and hope that she doesn’t daudle as much as my husband does).
Thank you for your writing.
Heather Aleshire says
I have never commented before although I have been reading your blog for over a year now. Amazingly enough, we also moved to a new town this summer.. my 7 and 10 year old children were excited, nervous, leaving our hometown was so hard.. I also had a new baby in June so our entire world has changed. New schools, new soccer fields, new rules, I have been struggling not to be the new parent who moves in and wants to change everything my new little mountain town offers… (“what do you mean the kids wear used uniforms.. i’m getting on the board next year & changing that”..) I wrestle daily with my type-A personality and cannot stand to ever let me kids feel heartache or pain.. this post hit me in the gut. When you wrote that you looked down at your daughter and she had missed her event, I just broke in to uncontrollable tears. I have been there so many times with my daughter, showed up at the wrong school for a something, my daughter mortified, i’m scrambling to call the coach, the team mom, anyone.. how could I have been so stupid?!? I’m mad at the GPS or the person in the car in front of me.. it’s unreal… I am SO thankful for your blog. I feel that so much of what you write is truly my life.. I am so glad I am not alone in my struggles as a working mother of 3, a taxi driver, a wife.. thank you.. your insight and truth about your struggles have helped me so much over the past year. Thank you, thank you.
Oh my word!! Oh how I related to every moment and circumstance written above. I feel your pain, and your want for that self control that everyone else seems to have but you. Oh how I wish Mama’s like us could just hold each others hands in situations like this and remind us that we are not alone and that everything eventually works out. Your posts bring me to tears almost every time..not sad tears, but tears of relief that I am not alone in what seems like a never ending journey!
Your posts always hit home, like you know exactly what is going on with me.
Thank you for being transparent and showing that we don’t always have to be perfect, that we are a work in progress, and we are always one step closer to where we want to be.
After all the negative self talk in my head this morning on my way to work, I realize that I AM closer than I was the first time I read the wise words on your blog about 6 months ago. I yell less, I am more patient, love more, enjoy little moments, don’t get as angry, and listen more than I ever used to. And I am working on shutting up that inner bully, who is always there telling me I am not good enough.
I want you to know that I am incredibly thankful to have come across your page. Your writings help encourage me to be a better mother. The Mom I know I am capable of being. Thank you! Thank you for opening up about your life, your experiences and most important your weaknesses!
If it makes you feel any better, we recently drove halfway to Chicago (4 hours away) before discovering that our daughter had no shoes. Ah…how I miss summer!
I am in tears as I read this. In some small way it makes me feel better- like I’m glad to know I’m not the only mom in the world who throws temper tantrums out loud at times and within herself. I am a wife to a wonderful man and a mom to 3 sons all of which I homeschool. Yesterday I had a breakdown and the boys took the brunt of it ALL. I ranted for awhile (yelled, fussed ,complained) . So many times I just wish I would SHUT UP! Instead of listening to the whisper in my spirit that says BE QUIET and CALM DOWN I rant until the words no longer come. I am getting better but Gosh I feel like a failure. Reading this – I see so much of myself- the perfectionist especially. My son goes to art class and I have to bite my lip trying not to correct and “help him” in his painting. I need the Lord daily and Im so grateful for this blog that is so raw real and encouraging in such an uplifting way. thank you .
Jenny Bavender says
Thank you for you honesty and this post. I am direction challenged as well and love my GPS. But, I know exactly how you felt when the address wasn’t found. I’ve felt that panick too, the not knowing where you are supposed to be going. It was nice to read this and know someone feels like I do.
Thank you for reminding me that being lost is all part of the journey.
Your words are so moving to me- I’m so very grateful.
Thank you for another so very honest post, Rachel. I need these, because it is so, SO hard for me to allow myself baby steps. I’ll respond calmly in one moment, and in the next moment the irritation is suddenly so big it feels like it overwhelms all my good intentions. I end up feeling like I negated my one thoughtful move. But I’ll remind myself that ‘I am closer than I was before.’ That has got to be enough in a moment of this imperfect life.
Gena Loyd says
You spoke straight into my heart today. You do every time. I am listening. We are listening. That thing–that incomprehensible, nameless thing that drives each of us differently in our parenting, our work , our art, whatever–you are feeding that thing inside of me and then I make change. And that is a miracle, because that is love.
I was just on FB and saw some of the haters on there. I left a message there as well, but this what I really want you to know: You are amazing, you are an inspiration and I hope BEYOND hope that when my first baby arrives in this world in April, that I can start out with kindness, love and forgiveness for myself every day. I know it will be hard, I know there will be bad days, but I have been reading your blog for over a year, and even though I’m not a mom yet, I have taken SO MUCH from your blog posts in my every day life. Thank you for your message, for your courage and your light.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Hi Lorraine, I just want to hug you! I saw your comment on the FB page and I was said to myself, “How blessed I am to have THAT woman in MY corner!” Just knowing you and so many of my supportive readers have my back when people feel the need to say hurtful things makes me feel stronger and braver. I am so touched that you have been reading my blog and feel that my words have benefitted you in preparation of your baby’s arrival. There is no greater gift to me! This fuels me like nothing else and helps me focus on the positive. A HUGE thank you for standing beside me. It means everything. Many blessings to you — may you have a smooth and healthy pregnancy, friend.
Lori Ray says
I just wanted to take a moment to share with you how grateful I am for your blog, your book and your spirit. Your Hands Free print hangs in my home right between two framed prints of my daughters, the loves of my life. Your book on my nightstand as a constant reminder and reference.
I am a single mom in my early forties that is striving to be the best Mom and the best professional I can be on a daily basis. I am in the middle of a frightening struggle watching my eight year old deal with a tremendous amount of rage that seems to boil up from inside of her. She is terribly smart in her school work, a perfectionist and my medical miracle (She has a tumor on her brain and recently had major kidney surgery.) We visited a therapist when our family structure changed and we are in the process of going back to her on a regular basis.
My question this morning as I watched my daughter battle whatever it is that makes her so angry was this: What am I doing or not doing as a parent that is causing her so much pain? What have I missed? Why can’t I reach out to her and find the right answers? I read your words and try to concentrate on letting go of my own struggles….I find myself scared for her now and in the future with added social pressures in a socio economic community I can’t compete with….
Thank you for letting me know that other people struggle too, that moms aren’t perfect and that there are ways to wrap our hearts around each other to protect the souls of the ones we love.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Hi Lori, I am so touched by your heartfelt words and it means a great deal to me that my words have touched your life. I thank you for bravely sharing your struggles. I am sure someone out there is reading and feeling less alone. I don’t know if you are aware, but I have two extraordinary colleagues who voluntarily share their wisdom and guidance with readers of my blog who are looking for answers to challenging life/parenting situations. Sandy Blackard is an award-winning author and parenting coach. Dr. Theresa Kellam is a licensed psychologist. Either of them could offer you comfort and advice. I highly recommend their books as well. Here is their contact info and books:
If you feel like there should be something you can do to turn things around but you don’t know what it is, feel lost, stuck or overwhelmed, contact:
Sandy, parenting/life coaching: http://www.languageoflistening.com
Say What You See for Parents & Teachers
If you feel hopeless like nothing you do will ever work, or if you or your child(ren) are experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, attention problems, self-inflicted injury, suicidal thoughts, or are simply wishing for healing, contact:
Theresa, PhD, licensed psychologist: http://www.theresakellam.com
The Parent Survival Guide
Lori Ray says
Thank you Rachel for the additional resources. I will certainly follow up with them as we continue down our path. I am so thankful for all we have each day, the sunshine this morning and the gift of others in our lives to wrap us in their love and hope.
I was cleaning up my emails this morning, you know, unsubscribing and such, and was about to include you in the ‘spring clean’ – but then I read todays post. I felt the terror of the Softball tournament where my daughter was captain and we were lost and running late for opening ceremony….
It’s not time to let you go just yet… understanding ourselves and helping our children to see themselves too is an ongoing process.
Thanks so much for your help on the journey.
Laura Silverman says
Thank you Rachel, for clearing the path for me and so many other moms out there, shining your bright light into the dark corners of my mind and helping me feel better about the nerves, the anxiety and the potential to lash out at the undeserving.
My son is only 18 months old, many hurdles you describe are yet to come, but I feel infinitely more prepared after reading your posts, which I have been since he was just a few weeks old.
Thank you for continuing to put yourself out there for us and please be patient with yourself!
Much love and gratitude always!
Here is a little quote I found on aha parenting newsletter this week:
“May we know when to surrender, and do so with grace. May we
remember that some people’s lives are parched dry and be
grateful for the abundance in ours. May we carry our loads
with ease amid sweetness. May we learn and teach well. May
we take exquisite care of ourselves. May we find life in new
and exciting ways. May we come to the surface for air when
we need it. And may everything that hurts us also be a
little funny. Have a wonderful new year!!” — Rabbi Brad
Thank you for being so transparent. Being directionally challenged (especially in a big city) and driving kids all over creation for sporting events, is quiet overwhelming. This post dug deep as this is our household on most Saturday mornings-especially if my husband is not around to drive. As time ticks by so rapidly and everyone is moving so slowly, my irritability rises. I fear we will be late and I don’t know where I’m going and Google won’t talk to me! Some of these days I win, other days my perfectionistic emotions win. But at the end of everyday, I try to extend grace to myself and remind my kids how much I love them.
Thank you for sharing this – I needed these words…this reminder. Thank you.
Reading your words could not have come at a better time. It’s been a great reminder that in those moments in which we are about to erupt or do… we are not alone. I love the description of your inner drill sergeant and will certainly use that as a visual when I feel myself getting to that point. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
“This day is a learning experience. You now know something you didn’t before.”
Thank you! I will use these two sentences with our children, especially our 8 yr old (fairly cautious) son who struggles which perfection. He gets so frustrated with himself. And, admittedly, I got frustrated with him yesterday when he did something totally out of character. He plays basketball, but the younger kids had gotten baseballs out of a box in the garage. He had not thrown an actual baseball in years. He threw it hard up in the tree at close range, which happens to have a bedroom window behind it. I couldn’t get past the fact that he could have knocked out the window. I wish I would have had these encouraging words in my tool box. I’ll use them next time 🙂
I totally get it! I am directionally challenged. I once spent 8 hours in south Georgia with my youngest child. We discovered some wonderful things, like a hardware store with baby bunnies and chicks, but he still asks me (at age 24) if I know where I am going.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Love it. This makes me smile! I am sure my girls will be asking the same at age 24. 🙂
Thank you for this lovely post. I had tears in my eyes as I read it. I’m coming out of a week of anxiety attacks after my children’s gran left us to return to our home overseas. Feeling so far away from home and my support network and trying hard to hold everything together for everyone finally caught up with me. I’ve heard myself snapping at the kids, yelling at them because we’re late for school again and hating myself for it, not talking to my husband, not articulating how I actually felt and all the while feeling so uptight and pretending that its all fine. Now that it’s finally come to a head I’m learning from the process and trying to rebuild a more peaceful me, little bit by little bit. Your words were exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you.
Well I read this immediately after delivering a not so peaceful response. I have some apologizing to do. Thank you for bringing me back to peace so quickly.
Thanks for your honesty. Its really helpful to be reminded that even when you’ve been working at something for a very long time, everyone (even you :P) still makes mistakes, and that’s still ok. I am not a mum but I read every hands free blog because it gives me hope that change is possible and you can learn to have grace for yourself.
Also, I love the way you communicate with your children. You are honest and humble, and not afraid to say sorry. I hope that I can do the same if I am ever a mum.
Amy Kirchhoff says
I struggle with a short fuse, panic, and a curse words. I feel guilty and sick when I explode, which keeps my fuse short. I blew up at my 5-year old daughter yesterday. Still sick about it today. All that say thank you. Thank you for the encouragement of this poem and your story. I’m printing out the poem.
Caroline McGraw says
Getting lost is the worst! I can definitely picture times in which I needed to drive a L’Arche friend to a doctor’s appointment, only to find myself defeated by the twisting DC streets. Thank you for this honest, heartfelt story – I needed the reminder that it’s PROGRESS we are after, not perfection. 🙂
I can relate soo much! We are a blended family. I am a stay at home mother of 8 children that we have full custody of. My husband works second shift. I panic if I don’t stay on schedule. I panic if I am lost. If I am going to be late to something, I would much rather not even go. A lot of times, it seems I forget my kids are actually kids, instead of little adults. I expect soo much out of them, sometimes. I am working on it. Some days are harder than others but the most important part is that I talk to them. They know I love them and we are all a work in progress. We are a family that believes in new starts and apologies. Thank you for all your posts and letting us know we are not alone with our feelings and struggles.
“Closer than I was before” If we could focus on progress rather than simply focusing on the end result, we would be happier and better off. It’s not easy but I think it’s a worthwhile goal.
María Elena says
Dear Rachel: I want be a good mother, but avatars daytime and internal critical moments we spoil you mentioned that we should be happy with the family and I want to change, be more condescending with my children, not yelling, but love them more and more united. I found your blog and I’m reading, are mothers and hopefully my change impact on the welfare of my family. My kids are big and the small of 13 who is in the changes of adolescence. Sorry for my writing, I speak and read Spanish, I hope your book Hands free mom out in Spanish.
Affection and greetings
Denise Cortez says
I’m laughing as I type. I’m just like everyone else….crying. My kids are 17 and 18 and I’m in awe of how you have the pulse of so many mom’s. I love the community of moms validating the different feelings, thoughts, insecurities, hopes, dreams, fears, commitments we have and are for our children. I know that I have a sacred need to be acknowledged and this blog has certainly done it for me! I am a first time reader/commenter today. Just today, instead of forgetting her shoes, my 18 yr old forgot a different house rule and I had to breathe deeply to prevent the drill sergeant from coming out (sure she should know better by now and the stakes are higher). Thank you for the EXPERIENCE that I am not alone…. and I know one day she will be a mother to my grandchildren. I want to continue to show/teach her how to be a mom who really “be”s with her children, no matter what their age. Love and dignity. Mom’s are the cure for all that ails this world 🙂 Thank God for the work that you do.
Dania Perla says
Being human we all make mistakes but the good thing is that we admit our mistakes and move further without repeating them.
Sha Sha says
Sometimes, it is very much necessary to stay in control and be diplomatic.