“Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.” –Fernando Sabino
I was standing over the shrimp dip when a family friend approached me. Although he was known to ask thought-provoking questions, and this was my going away party, I was not expecting this one. “So once you get settled in your new home, what do you imagine that moment will look like when you feel like everything is going turn out okay?” he asked.
In one mere sentence my friend went straight to my greatest fears, my greatest insecurities, and my greatest hopes. Funny thing is, I knew the answer to his question. I’d envisioned it a thousand times as I’d prepared our home to be emptied. Tears began dripping my face. An unsightly sea of mascara, I was sure, but I could not stop the tears if I tried. My friend didn’t act like it was any big deal. His wife, who is also my dear friend, had probably exposed him to spontaneous sobbing a few times. My friend just waited. Then he listened.
“When my children come home from school and say, ‘I met a friend today, Mama.’ That is when I know it’s gonna be okay. One friend makes the whole world better, you know. One friend for each girl. That is the moment,” I replied. Then I dabbed my eyes with a yellow party napkin and smiled because friends like that just make you smile even when you’re crying.
I thought that conversation concluded over appetizers and farewell hugs, but it didn’t. For the past two months, that conversation has continued in my head.
As I pulled away from our old house, car loaded, and deafening silence from the little people in the back seat, I drove straight into a torrential rain storm. Well, this is definitely not The Moment! I screamed in my head, sad and angry and unable to see the yellow line through tears and rainwater.
A few weeks later, my friend’s question came to mind when my daughters’ best friends came for a weeklong visit and nearly knocked them down with hugs and squeals. This is The Moment! Yep! Everything is going to be okay. I sighed with relief.
But then a few days later we watched fireworks in an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers and every boom made my child shudder and moan, “I want to go back home—our real home.” This sure isn’t The Moment! I thought with frustration.
And then Meet-the-Teacher day happened and my child was lovingly noticed by the P.E. teacher and introduced to the sweet principal and associate principal. Now this is The Moment! I thought leaping for joy.
But the next day it was swim team suit try-on day in a crowded locker room with no air conditioning. So sweaty. Too small. New team. Missing old team. Tears. Homesick. Definitely Not The Moment.
Hmmm. I thought. What’s the deal? When will it be THE moment everything’s gonna be okay?
That’s about the time my younger daughter, Avery, got off the school bus with a miniature notebook hanging from her neck with a long, green ribbon.
“What’s that?” I asked secretly delighted to see my child not just carrying, but actually wearing, one of my favorite objects in the whole entire world. By the look of sheer joy on my face, she may as well have been carrying a tray of Godiva chocolates or round-trip tickets to a tropical island.
“This is my Tiny Topics Notebook. Our teacher wants us to write down small moments in our life,” she said matter-of-factly while holding out the leopard print covered pad for me to see.
Is this for real? I thought happily. A Tiny Topics Notebook! Could there be anything cuter? I was practically salivating now. If Rachel Stafford knew anything, she knew about Small Moments and Small Notebooks. My speechlessness must have led Avery to believe she needed to elaborate. “Our notebook is going to help us write stories … you know, Mama,” she said in a tone that sounded a lot like ‘duh.’
Avery knows about my ridiculous collection of small notebooks with pages and pages filled with important scribbles. She knows they are kept with my most important documents and can never be thrown away. Avery knows I wear an utterly tasteless fanny pack when I take walks so I don’t miss documenting any ideas. It’s creative writing at the most unstylish level. Truly. But a second grader with a miniature notebook strapped around her neck is a whole different matter. It is adorable. For days, Avery wore that thing around. Pushing her glasses up on her nose as she jotted down important little details when the mood struck her.
I was dying to know what was inside that flip pad that fit perfectly in her little hand. One night as I was tucking Avery in bed, I asked if I could read her Tiny Topics Notebook that she placed next to her bed each night. Avery said yes and gave me permission to share. Each page held one idea:
“moveing to a new place”
“playing a song called Peace on my guitar”
“going to a new school”
“visiting a water park”
“I got nurves in swiming and I could not swim.”
“painting nails with my sister”
Of course in my head, you know what I was adding to each detail, right? This was Not The Moment. This was The Moment. This was Not The Moment. This was The Moment. Because of course, little people have Moments and Not Moments too.
“These are all very important details,” I said proudly. “I like how you write about the hard moments as well as the happy ones,” I added as I carefully placed the notebook back in its special spot next to her head.
“Well, sometimes there are bad moments, but if I keep looking, there’s always a good one that pops up. So I keep on looking.” Just when I thought that little notebook couldn’t get any more precious, that little author of mine spoke those very wise and hopeful words.
I instantly knew that Avery and I had two people we must thank. I would have to thank my friend back home. His question had served as my Tiny Topics Notebook. The act of looking for The Moment and distinguishing it from Not The Moment became a practice of expectancy and hope during a difficult transition for me. We would also have to thank Avery’s teacher. Through this journaling process, the hard moments were less discouraging because Avery realized a good moment was bound to come if she kept on noticing.
And now I hope to help you. Pretend we’re talking over an insanely delicious chip dip or the best guacamole you ever tasted and you have your favorite adult beverage in hand. And let’s pretend I ask you a question. Pick the one that makes you stop for a moment and maybe even makes you tear up a little.
What will that moment look like when that long-held resentment begins to wane?
What will that moment look like when you begin to love yourself “as is”?
What will that moment look like when you begin choosing calm reactions over angry outbursts?
What will that moment look like when you stop delaying your life with “as soon as I …” and start living now?
What will be that moment look like when you begin to move forward and stop looking back?
What will that moment look like when you stop putting off your dream and take the first step?
What will that moment look like when you decide to live by heart and not by outside pressures and opinions?
What will that moment look like when you forgive yourself?
What will that moment look like when you start to believe things are going to turn out okay?
I hope one of those questions becomes an on-going conversation in your head over the next few weeks, months, or even years. And I hope it inspires you to keep looking. Because there is something to be said for preparing your head and your heart for That Moment …
In the act of looking for That Moment, it becomes a real possibility rather than a far-fetched dream.
In the act of looking for That Moment, you find it is not a single moment, but rather a meaningful collection of moments that keep fueling you forward.
In the act of looking for That Moment, you gather the courage to keep showing up, even when it’s scary, even when it's hard, even when it hurts.
In the act of looking for That Moment, it has less chance of passing you by.
Last Sunday my family walked into a new church with new friends … new friends we met through a recent blog post … … new friends who said, “It seems like we were best friends before and then we got amnesia and found each other again.” That kind of friend. And there was one for each girl. And there was even one for me.
It was The Moment alright. Maybe it was even The Best One so far. But in any case, I will keep looking for more moments. After all, there are many tiny notebooks to fill.
Dear friends of the Hands Free Revolution, many of you have expressed interest in hearing me speak about my truths and strategies to overcome distraction and grasp the moments that matter. Well, today I am delighted to share this soul-bearing interview I recently had with nationally acclaimed author and speaker John O’Leary on his LIVE INSPIRED Podcast. In this interview, we touch on combatting the inner bully, overcoming negative body image, creating healthy boundaries to protect your time and energy, and redefining success. If you don’t have time to listen now, check out the The LIVE INSPIRED 7 which is a series of 7 questions, shared “rapid fire” and answered boldly (without prep!) by John’s guests. His hope is to leave you reflecting on my answers and YOUR answers. May the truths and tools I share today’s show help you live an inspired life in 2017! Thanks for being part of The Hands Free Revolution! I am coming to Jupiter, FL next month (February 2017) to the THINK BETTER, LIVE BETTER conference! Early bird ticketing still available. Click here for more info.
Thank you for this post! I too just moved, and I’m blending a family, with two of the three kids starting new schools. It’s been a rough couple weeks and the idea of “what will that moment look like” just might be the thing I need to help me (and the kiddos.) Thank you!
I too am going through a rough patch…and once again your words comfort and inspire me to keep on keeping on. It’s like you wrote those list of questions just for me. Thank you. You Are God’s Best.
Some days I don’t feel the “all right” moment. I left my job of 17 years to stay at home with my children. A wise lady once told me as your kids get older you think they need you less, but they actually need you more. At the time they were small and I didn’t/couldn’t understand what she meant. They needed me all the time. Now that they are older I get it. They need me to be present. It has been challenging, but rewarding. They came home from school and between the two of them talked for an hour about their day. That was one of many moments and I knew I was right to jump.
Thank you! Like many moms, back to school always brings me both joy and frustration. I have 3 children. My oldest daughter started 9th grade and high school. My middle daughter started 6th grade and middle school and my son is still in grade school in 5th grade. My son is the child I struggle with the most. We adopted him at the age of 5 and he was diagnosed 1.5 years ago with PTSD and Reactive Attachment disorder. Parenting him is far and away the most challenging thing in my life. Lay my head on the bathroom floor and cry, kind of hard. School is not his favorite. He struggles with building relationships with his peers and he does not trust adults to make decisions for him.
5th grade is a big year. 5th graders are on safety patrol and help the smaller kids cross the streets close to the school. The school does this amazing program where all of the kids are assigned jobs and they study the US by researching each state from the standpoint of their job. He wants to be a pilot for school. They get to fly simulators and figure out how they get around the country. He has been excited about these things for MONTHS. Yesterday was his fist day on patrols. In the afternoon, he just left his post. He did not talk to the teacher. Just left. Made up a bunch of different lies as to why he was home early to my husband. Had a major meltdown after supper. (everything was not okay). But then, as I was holding him during his rage, he started to calm and talk about what was really going on. He had all of these things spinning in his head. Was overwhelmed by the feeling of responsibility and his own self-doubt raised its ugly head. He panicked and left. We spent time practicing what he would say to the teacher. How to apologize, own his mistake and ask for another chance. It was probably one of the most amazing moments of my life with him so far. Everything is going to be okay.
Thank you for your wonderful blog.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Heather, let me say this: thank you. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for holding your son in his time of rage and fear. Thank you for hearing him. Thank you for being strong so he can be strong too.
As I read your story, these words I once wrote come to mind:
“If you find it hard to hold on,
Do it anyway.
You may you look down and see someone holding on
Simply because you are.” -Rachel Macy Stafford
Stacey Gibson says
It was that quote that made me tear up! Thanks for helping me become more aware of the important things 😉 Maybe you could share this quote on your Facebook page as I’d love to share it (and your page) with others.
Sandy Blackard says
Beautiful quote! Children count on us to be there for them. When we do that, especially standing in a place of knowing a better moment will come as you so beautifully described in this post, they will do the rest.
Since you often invite me to share my perspective with your readers, I’ve got something I’d like to add for Heather.
I too am moved by your loving response to your son in his rage. He needed to tell someone why he left his post, and by making it safe for him to tell you, you helped him face his inner fears. That’s huge! Nearly brought me to tears.
You may have already told him this, but something he may benefit from hearing is the flip side of what he may think: the reason he left his post was because HE IS RESPONSIBLE, not because he isn’t! When you don’t trust yourself to keep other kids safe, it’s irresponsible to stay and pretend, which is probably what he thought his only alternative was.
A child who believes he is irresponsible becomes embarrassed and has to run away. But when a child knows he is responsible, he can ask for help or let someone know before he leaves, because that’s what a responsible person does.
Children act according to whom they believe they are. Helping them change their beliefs about self is the permanent solution for helping them change their behaviors. That’s why it is so important to find our children’s hidden strengths and provide them with proof. This proof is absolute gold if he can see it!
That quote made me tear up, too. We recently moved, just following my son’s autism diagnosis. Heavy times.
Holding on seems a little easier now. Immense thanks.
Sandy, thank you for the kind comments and the reminder of stressing that he is responsible. It has been a rough couple of weeks (months…years…) with him. When I have the energy to step back and look at the big picture, I definitely see progress, but that is not always easy, is it? Sometimes I get stuck in the challenging/frustrating moment/s. He is definitely helping me see life through a different lens. I have to constantly remind myself that his behaviors, difficult though they may be, are not intended to irritate me (well, sometimes they are, but even then there is another layer). They are his internal struggle to accept and recognize his past trauma and learn how to be a loving attached human being.
It’s ALL PERFECT right NOW. : ) <3
Oh thank you for this! As an Army spouse who has moved to 7 different states already (w/an 8th a year away) I am intimately familiar with the moments/non-moments. It gets harder with each move, especially now that I have two school age daughters. I know this piece will come back to me time and again.
Wow, at one time I thought of printing this post but then I remembered I can search for it through either category or month. Initially I was copying and printing them in case I miss them later. All those moments I am yearning to see accomplished in my handsfree journey. I do not expect to make it overnight and I know and accept that there will be bad moments too. But that moment when I hear a positive comment or I see a positive reaction to my handsfree living will propel me to the next and the next. You have awakened me to start noticing these moments. Thank you Rachel, may God continue blessing you with more insights. I will still be here waiting to read.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Yes, Winnie, you have accurately described how I have gotten to this Alive way of Living from a Distracted, Auto-Pilot Way of Living — little steps. And with each little step I took to be more present, there was a moment, a confirmation, a word, a smile that propelled me forward. And when someone said to me last week that I was a Noticer just like my daughter, I nearly cried. I never thought I could be a Noticer – I was too rushed, too frantic, too distracted, too negative. But this is where little steps will take us — to Big Changes that don’t happen overnight, but they do happen when we keep trying. I am grateful to know my writings have touched you, Winnie. This loving feedback is also my instrument for moving forward and writing … writing … writing.
Judith Perdue says
Thank you for sharing this story. I am also dealing with a recent move and my 2nd grade girl is asking each day if we can move back home. The new school has been a tough transition for her although she has made friends, she still misses her old teacher. This new teacher is pushing her and I’m not sure if she is fond of my girl, which makes me want to never make her go back to school, but I know she is learning and growing. I am asking myself everyday when everything will be okay? Right now it isn’t. I’m trying to do everything right — exercise, spend time in prayer, eat right, be a loving mom and wife, yet I still feel so weepy and out of place — like I’ll never adjust to our new surroundings. It’s a journey and I hope and pray within this next year we’ll all adapt and come to like it here, until then it’s one day at a time for me.
Emily Peguillan says
Thank you so much for sharing all of your stories. The reality is we are human and we will make mistakes. Your special stories, truly make me mindful of my negative thoughts and keep me intact that I do want to be better person for myself and for my children. Your situations and honesty help me remember it’s ok if I get upset as long as I hurry and fix that negative behavior. Your words are in my head quite often. Thank you for writing and sharing your life experiences. I especially loved this one, it is true if we keep waiting for the next good moment instead of dwelling on the last bad moment we could make our lives just a little bit easier. Thank you!
Heather Adams says
I just adore you and your writing. And I think I need a Tiny Topics notebook… 🙂
Really loved this post. Am still teary. Just went through a major move myself and all I want is one friend for each boy…then I will know it will be ok! Sadly we have not made it there yet and I am questioning everything and blaming myself for uprooting everyone and changing their lives (for better or worse?) Hopefully we will find our moment soon.
We moved across the country this summer and I knew the same…as soon as my kids made a friend at church and school, they’d be ok. My 2nd grade girl is shy and just needs a friend. She also made the comment that it felt like we were on vacation. Everyday is a little better, and yesterday she even said she likes her new school better than her old one…and we loved that school. One step at a time. Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you for this post…….I was in desperate need of this…..although we have not recently physically moved…..I am in desperate need of an internal move…..I have been stuck on something internally and although I know I am blessed in countless ways I can’t move past something that has me so frustrated on the inside. I don’t feel like I have really been counting my blessings, more so just acknowledging that they exist while spending my real energy where I shouldn’t…..I needed to be reminded that sometimes what we think we need isn’t really it….rather I have spent so much time focusing on what it is I am annoyed by I forgot to think about what it is that really counts and what it is that really inspires and moves me….I think that sometimes what we think we need or what we think is “the fix” is really just keeping us from moving forward……I have been stuck and this post reminds me to stop and actually take in my blessings and be a part of them……I need to remember to start living for the now…..thank you I needed this post .
Two years ago, we moved north for my husbands job – far away from friends and a large church that was our support system. We are in a small community now, with a teeny (but active) church that again serves as our support system, albeit one that is stretched thin.
When baby #2 arrived this spring, hubby decided he should get a job near to family and overshoes give me the chance to stay home for a year or so while the girls were still so young.
He didn’t get the job.
And I realized, as I read through your post, that we are always looking for the next thing to make it right or better, rather than working with what we have to make it right. I don’t necessarily know what we are supposed to do now, but I can’t keep looking for big things to make my life better. Maybe I need a series of smaller things…
Tracy L says
Beautiful. Thanks for writing this, it truly touched me. 🙂
I absolutely love reading your blog and I am in the middle of the book now. You are a true inspiration!!! Your blog today reminded me of the story of the Chinese farmer. If yo haven’t heard it before, it goes something like this:
Once there was a Chinese farmer who worked his poor farm together with his son and their horse. When the horse ran off one day, neighbors came to say, “How unfortunate for you!” The farmer replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
When the horse returned, followed by a herd of wild horses, the neighbors gathered around and exclaimed, “What good luck for you!” The farmer stayed calm and replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
While trying to tame one of wild horses, the farmer’s son fell, and broke his leg. He had to rest and couldn’t help with the farm chores. “How sad for you,” the neighbors cried. “Maybe yes, maybe no,” said the farmer.
Shortly thereafter, a neighboring army threatened the farmer’s village. All the young men in the village were drafted to fight the invaders. Many died. But the farmer’s son had been left out of the fighting because of his broken leg. People said to the farmer, “What a good thing your son couldn’t fight!” “Maybe yes, maybe no,” was all the farmer said.
The moral to the story is we never know at the time what will end up as “the moment” and what is “not the moment” and that maybe there is a little of both in everything.
Tara Dana says
This is the moment and not the moment all at the same time for me.
This is not the moment because my precious babies (6th and 8th grade) are reeling with the news that a fellow 8th grade classmate committed suicide this past weekend. Parenting through this seems harder than parenting through my divorce. I am overwhelmed as an adult to make sense of this. I am in tears just thinking about this family and the kids and all their friends. But… this is the moment because my kids turned to me for comfort and help. I have spend the past 6 months working on myself and being more present and this week it showed. They knew they could count on me and I would drop everything to help them, to hold them, to answer questions, to laugh over silly things and remind them it’s ok. But mainly because I have spent time discussing the challenges of life, of middle school, of the pressure of life. I have taken time to appreciate my kids. My quiet 8th grade son who waits until bed to divulge any of his true feelings or questions. That uses humor to hide fear. And my beautiful but painfully go at your own pace of life daughter. She notices the feeling of others and talks to you when you are most in a rush, like when I am rushing for the train and I hear can I ask you something or but mom….
You helped me to have a more open relationship with my kids and this is the moment because I need all those skills right now. These are my people and they need me and I will be there for them day or night. Thank you for your insight and making me believe I won’t get it perfect but being there is enough.
This is my favorite post! Tears still falling, but they’re happy tears, so it’s okay 🙂 Thank you for sharing your gift with us and for challenging us to keep searching within. God bless you and your family.
What will That Moment look like when I feel like a good mom.
Thank you for your thought-provoking so-very-helpful posts.
I am so thankful to have found your blog. I have been able to find words that describe how I have been feeling for quite some time now! The last 5 years have been trying ones along with some great victories nestled in. I have been on a path of reinventing myself after a divorce, losing my job and losing the only house my children have ever known. We have moved to a new area recently and I lost many a nights sleep hoping that my children would transition smoothly and yes, make new friends. It has only been 4 days since school has started but each of those days I too am waiting to hear those words ” I made a friend today”. Thank you for your post today because there is comfort in knowing that I am NOT alone.
emily wierenga says
I love that you wear a fanny pack friend 🙂 Beautiful writing as always. Thank you for always being transparent, and CRAZY happy over the friendship God has given you and your Firefly 🙂
Thank you for this. I love reading your posts, they give me hope and encouragement, and another perspective! I love that quote too. For our family I keep a Magic Moments of 2014 Jar in our living room and I write out my sons’ special moments on little scraps of paper, to be read on New Year’s Eve. Usually my older son will tell me what he wants written, but I hope in time to move him towards writing his own. These are things like special firsts, scoring a goal in soccer, going on a special outing with a family member or friend….I love how writing these things down has opened our eyes to more good things, being more aware of them, not letting them be crowded out by the difficult or mundane.
What will that moment look like when I know my 19 yr old son is going to be ok in this world?
Thank you for giving me this avenue to envision this for my son who is in such a bad spot ~ spiritually, legally, physically…thank you. I can see the moment now.
Lisa, I too have an older child (31) about whom I ask that question. Sometimes it feels lonely being worried about my child when she is (technically anyway!) an adult. Thinking of you friend and praying for your son along with my girl.
We also moved few months ago and I had some doubts in my mind about how the kids will adjust to the move. I am always looking for moments/non-moments and also used to write them in a notebook for both kids when they were little, just little things like something funny they did or said, something cute, something extra precious, little yet big milestones and so-forth.
Anyway, my first re-assuring moment was when my younger daughter came back from school on their 2nd day at new school with a Head Teacher’s award!! Her picture was taken and displayed in the school hall for that week. She came home with a beaming proud smile on her face and her older sister had a proud big sister smile. Seeing them both happy and smiling just on their 2nd day at new school was a huge moment for us and re-assured me that everything will be perfectly fine and the kids will adjust no-problem!
What will that moment feel like and look like when you no longer fear or even think about whether your cancer will reoccur?
I can tell you that moment is so freeing and illuminating – when you can move forward with the rest of your life – with joy and gratitude.
Thank you so much for writing this post! It is amazing how God brings the perfect words at the perfect time. I was so used to not seeing the ‘moment’ that I had stopped looking. Your blog sparked something deep in my spirit though so I read back over my 2014 resolutions and realised (as I cried happy tears) that I was actually fulfilling all of them is some capacity. Not always, and not perfectly, but sometimes.
I am still crying happy tears as I write this comment. Thank you for reminding me to look.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl
Cathy McHugh says
I have shared this post on my fb wall…because I LOVE your words!! I have a few friends going through some things quite separate from this topic but I took something else from this one about just “finding” moments, any kind of moments to help propel you forward. 1 friend’s little baby died just 3 short but beautiful hours after he was born & I had the privilege of meeting him before he passed away & I can only imagine how his Mum & Dad feel but I think if they could find those moments then they might feel they can go on without him …hope she sees it 🙂
There’s something about your timing of releasing the next blog entry that always seems to find me at the right time….I am at a loss right now about a few things & I have realised after reading this post that I can look at it a different way…What will the moment look like when…I find the right job/passion for me now that my kids don’t need me anymore during the day….cause they are usually my daily and much loved passion 😀
What a moving post! I loved the reply about keeping on looking for the good moments and the Tiny Topics Notebook, then reached your list of questions and one (not the one I would have expected) made me burst into tears. I think there will be a box of tiny notebooks added to my shopping basket today.
Caroline McGraw says
Rachel, I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found some kindred spirits and new friends!!! Like you, I am always on the hunt for ‘The Moment’ when everything aligns … only to realize, as you have, that such moments ebb and flow. We can’t know when the next one will come, but if we keep paying attention, we can trust that it will arrive.
I particularly appreciated this post because I just spent a week with my family. There were moments of such gladness and connection, and moments of annoyance and stress. (In other words, it was real life, with real people.) As a perfectionist, I sometimes assume that something is wrong if every moment isn’t ‘The Moment’ … so I appreciate the reminder that it’s OK to have ‘Not The Moments’!
PS – My mom and I quote that line from Fernando Sabino all the time! 🙂
Sometimes words can mean so much. I recently had heart surgery and was met with what they call “cardiac psychosis” when I got home. Somehow, everything I had ever bottled up, decided not to say, every hurt and disappointment and every moment of outrage I had decided to swallow instead of voice to anyone came boiling out of me. I was a howling animal, with a cut open heart that was trying to heal. Two trips to the ER later, all those things I had decided not to face over the last 45 years have boiled out and my whole family is having to look at them, every warty, pulsing, disgusting truth about themselves and me are now living and crawling on our kitchen table. I had asked God to fix things, He told me to get my hands out of the way, and wham-o! Slam bam thank you mam. Now, we are dealing with the departure of my nice-little-girl habit of taking everybody’s garbage and holding it for them, not asking them to deal with their own – stuff. Nice little surprise they don’t mention when they are about to stick a knife in your chest. So, now I have a new beautifully pumping bovine aortic valve that obviously came out of a Mexican fighting bull, and I have their attention. They still love me, thankfully, and we might finally get to know each other. And thank you for your words!
Virginia, you can finally be you and let go of the stuff you carried with you. Life threatening illnesses and surgeries have a way of making us face what is real and important, or not so important to us. Congrats on working your way through it!
How very timely that I read this post this morning. My husband went out of town for the week yesterday. Not really a big deal except his leaving makes my panic and anxiety issues really come out (which are well controlled with medicine, thank goodness). My last full-blown panic attack was 4 months ago and this is his first time gone since I’ve gotten back on track. As I went through the day, I would ask myself if this was The Moment I would finally realize that I’m really ok. There were a lot of good moments – snuggles with my kids this morning, an unexpected and much needed lunch with a friend, and recognition from peers for some volunteer work. There were a few Not The Moments, but those made me remember the good ones. Thank you for this.
Thank you ….
Bec Nikolovski says
You cannot begin to imagine how many chords you’ve struck with this post! I’m a mum of 5 – 3 teens: 14, 15.5 & 17.5, a 10 year old and a two year old.
Recently I have been lamenting the loss of my happy, carefree children who once played together and spent time with me and shared things and spoke nicely to me and one another. I’ve been trying to pinpoint the moment it all began to unravel and how I wound up with 2 of my babies in therapy, due to self harm, depression and anxiety. My 10 year old struggling at school and being diagnosed with and medicated for ADD. The eldest wishing to withdraw from society all together and expressing, almost daily, how much he hates his sisters and wishes they were never born. The middle one resisting going to school every second day – loathes it because she has no friends. The only things they seem to have in common now is their complete lack of drive, their anti social ways, a desire to remain indoors on their technology and they way they communicate.
I am lost, I am worn out and hurting and I am full of guilt. My family is so broken and I feel it’s all my doing…I want so badly to start again!
I’ve always had an image in my head of all my family, sitting around a great long table, under the branches of a beautiful old tree laden with fairy lights in our big, leafy backyard, (all imaginary) chatting and laughing as we enjoy each other’s company and a feast. If that’s my moment, it seems too far away! I want that now. I want happiness and laughter. I want positivity and togetherness. I want to be making happy memories with them now ahead of them leaving to start their own happy, fulfilled lives – so they can all return with their friends or partners or families and we’ll get two big tables to feast at under that tree.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Bec, my heart goes out to you. I so appreciate you taking a moment to share your story, your struggles, your hopes. It is clear that you love your family so much and want to do everything you can to encourage communication, connection, and joy amongst yourselves. I am going to make sure my colleague, Sandy Blackhard, sees your comment. Sandy is the award-winning author of Say What you See and a parenting coach. She has helped many readers of this blog with steps and strategies to keep moving forward in their quest to a meaningfully connected life. I will ask her to respond to you with some ideas.
In fact, anyone reading this can reach out to Sandy directly. As I said, she has been a blessing and a tremendous resource to the readers of this blog. http://www.languageoflistening.com
Sandy Blackard says
The scenario you describe is so deeply painful for you because you want your children to enjoy each other and you want to enjoy them – all together under that big beautiful tree. That’s what family is to you!
The fact that even in your saddest moments you can still hold on to the comforting memory of earlier times and envision your dreams for your family tell me your spirit is strong. Reaching out here tells me you will never give up.
As long as you are seeking a solution, the depth of your love for your children and your inner drive will keep you going and help you create your Moment when things begin to turn around, even though it feels out of reach right now.
Your feelings of being lost and drained are completely justified. When so many of your children are unhappy with their lives all at once, it’s hard to know where to start. Without a starting point anyone would feel lost.
But, from what you said, you have already found one – you’ve started with the point of most urgent need and addressed it by getting professional help for the two children who are in the most pain. This is a hugely important step!
Hopefully the therapist will help your children turn their lives around and be able to provide direction for you in creating a plan to turn the rest of your family around. If the therapist is not able to provide the help you need to get started in resolving the bigger picture, then please contact my colleague Dr. Theresa Kellam at her website. Like me, she is one of Rachel’s colleagues who is there to help you. http://www.theresakellam.com
You can also contact me behind the scenes for additional coaching on how to work with your children. I can be more helpful when I have more details. http://www.languageoflistening.com
Meanwhile, here’s one thing to try. If you haven’t yet, start listening to your children’s complaints compassionately without trying to fix or change anything. This is hard to do when you feel guilty and blame yourself for their unhappiness, but it’s crucial in recreating your relationship with them. Bite your tongue and sit on your hands if you have to, but find a way just listen without judgment, criticism, teaching or defending (yourself or others). Your sole intention has to be understanding their point of view, not trying to get them to understand yours. Then when they have completed their uninterrupted venting, point out the wish(es) behind their complaints.
For example, the wish behind your daughter’s complaint about hating school is that she wishes she had friends there. After she’s had the chance to tell you how much she hates school and shares her deep sadness, frustration and lonely feelings with you, she will be ready to focus on her wishes.
As Rachel demonstrates in her post, focusing on wishes creates hope, but you can’t get there from a place of pain until you have had the chance to express and work through your feelings.
So when your daughter is finally able to voice her wishes, she may be able to use Rachel’s questions to contemplate what the moment will look like when she believes she can make a friend. That will connect her with hope which can eventually help her move into problem-solving about how to accomplish her goal.
This approach can also help your oldest child even though his wish to be an only child cannot be granted. For example when he says he hates his sisters and wishes they were never born, rather than defend his sisters or contradict his feelings, you need to hear his pain and understand why he wishes that. Even if his reasons sound superficial like the girls get in his way, are annoying, or infringe on what he wants to do, etc. underneath it all will be a wish for more connection with you. That is every first-born’s fondest wish. When it gets buried, it turns into resentment of other siblings and explodes out as declarations of hate.
When you start listening compassionately, he will be able to express his feelings then reconnect with his wish to be an only child and what that means to him. From there he may be able to contemplate what the moment would be like when he can consider forgiving his sisters for being born or you for having them.
When he gets to the contemplative stage, hope for the kind of life he wants (one where his need for connection with you is met) may feel more possible. At that point, he will be open to true problem-solving discussions for how to do that while remaining part of a big family, and maybe even eventually grow to appreciate his siblings along the way.
An important part of the solution for him (and each child) might be time alone with you. If that interests him, setting up weekly mom-time, even if it’s just a walk, sitting in his room for uninterrupted conversation, or playing a video game with him, could make a huge difference. Again, as long as your time with him is used to listen, not criticize, fix or teach, this kind of child-led time can make a huge difference in your relationship with each child which will make a huge difference in their relationship with each other.
My gut feeling is that as you begin to reconnect individually with each of your children, they will become kinder to each other and more respectful of your boundaries and wishes for peaceful interactions in your home. So much of sibling unhappiness is created by unspoken competition, and mom-time with each can help eliminate that.
This is a lot to consider, but if you are not too overwhelmed, I hope you will read my book that Rachel recommended above (only 100 p). Then, since you have younger children, too, I would heavily recommend getting Theresa’s book and following her directions for setting up weekly playtimes with your younger children. Mastering listening skills in playtimes with your younger children will make it much easier for you to use them with your older children. Plus Theresa’s book will help you heal your parenting guilt as she takes you through her own healing journey which is critical for making a fresh start.
You can find both our books (and Rachel’s) on my recommended reading page here: http://www.languageoflistening.com/resources/recommended-reading/
Rachel Macy Stafford says
This is wonderful, Sandra. So much here for us all to learn from. I so appreciate your wisdom, expertise, and support that you freely and kindly offer to the readers of my blog. You are a blessing! I am grateful for you!
Sandra, your words were helpful to me today as well. My only son started grade one at a new school this year (we moved closer to my husband’s workplace) and I have to say that Bec’s experience is my greatest fear. That the negativity I see in my son now (and really, almost always), will always be a part of him. Dealing with him hating school because he had to leave all of his friends (where he actually liked school) has been the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with so far. I cry a lot after I drop him off, my heart so heavy, my body so exhausted from the worry. He’s so focused on hating school that I feel he’s creating a new reality for himself that will be difficult to climb out of.
My reaction to his not wanting to go to school some mornings has not been great. My instinct is to knock that negativity OUT, and FAST! I just want to turn it around, and your words reminded me that I should take time to just listen. I know that I can’t solve this problem for him and listening is one way I can help him solve it himself.
Rachel, like you, I know the day my son comes home with a new friend will be a good one, and one I’ve imagined for months. As each day passes and the negativity continues (and seems to get worse), I’m feeling like it’s less and and less likely to happen. That negativity is contagious.
I feel like he’s so small to feel so pessimistic. But I’m going to try to pull myself together here and stay positive for him. I know he will find a friend, eventually.
Your words have helped today.
Sandy Blackard says
Thank you for creating this forum and allowing me to be a part of it. There is so much love here!
Glad to be of help, and so happy to hear you say this, “I know that I can’t solve this problem for him and listening is one way I can help him solve it himself.” That is so true! Listening is the most powerful parenting tool there is, and probably the hardest to remember unless you were raised with it.
Negativity is a really tough one for most of us! When it is occurring so strongly and at such a young age, it may be a self-protective mechanism. Pessimism a is a very sad but highly effective way to avoid disappointment. Kids who believe they can’t handle disappointment don’t dare get their hopes up.
If you think this could be part of it, start looking for what he still allows himself to look forward and how excited he allows himself to get before talking himself down. Listen for things like, “Can I get a puppy? I know I probably can’t,” before you even get a chance to answer. That’s what kids (and adults) do to head off disappointment.
But what they don’t know is that the cycle of hoping and talking themselves down in the realm of imagination is them practicing handling disappointment over and over at a safe distance to prove to themselves they can actually handle disappointments in real life.
What I’ve observed is that kids will only let themselves go as high as they feel safe to fall. The more confident he becomes in handling disappointment, the more optimistic he can be. You can help him expand his range by pointing out how he handles small disappointments and how brave he is to imagine greater and greater things. The day he can imagine a best friend showing up at school, will be the day he is on his way to finding one.
Creating playtimes per Dr. Kellam’s book above could be extremely helpful as well. In child-led play with the special set of toys she recommends, you will be able to see him stretching his self-imposed boundary on optimism himself, if that’s what he’s working on.
Rachel, I appreciate you responding to my post, so very much…thank you!!
Thank you for your blog post tonight. I needed this. I need to print this out and read it. As a lot of blog posts I read that remind me…it is not the end.
We moved a year ago to a new town, in a new state far away from life as we knew it…All for a bigger house. One we thought we needed.
Now reevaluating, even possibly downsizing to something much smaller then the 1100 sqft townhouse we moved out of.
My kids aren’t happy and they have an abundance of friends here and I keep praying that it will change. It hasn’t so far.
We have AWESOME moments, but then we have these horrible, life is ending moments that just stop me in my tracks and make me ask, did we do the right thing by moving. To give them their own rooms, and a basement, and more? Did they need more, or did we need more and now that we have more we want less, way less!
Crazy how that works!
Thank you. Thank you. 🙂
For me today, this article was My Moment. Thanks so much for writing this, it’s as if it was written just for me. We are moving to TX from CA next summer and I also have two girls who are 8 and 4. We will be moving schools, activities, churches too. We’ve been having the conversation about praying for friends, particularly one for each of us. This gives me hope, knowing that there will be ups and downs but really a way to find a bit of good in each and every day.
As I read the list of “What will that moment look like…” my eyes began to tear up. I feel as if more than one of those questions are meant for me. I am in a rough emotional season right now. I am 29, and I am finally seeking help for all the pain I’ve carried around since early 20s (anger, resentment and guilt). Its actually liberating to finally learn to let go of some things…Its definitely not easy and its a daily fight. Even when its scary, hard, or even when it hurts, I know I have the courage to keep going. These questions definitely help me to put things in perspective, and gives me “moments” to look forward to again.
I am looking for moments when I can finally look in the mirror and love myself “as is”. I am looking for moments when I choose calm reactions instead of angry outbursts. I am SO looking for moments when I can finally begin to move forward (emotionally/mentally) and stop looking back. My son deserves an “in-tact”, self-controlled…”whole” mother. My significant other deserves to be able to love me freely without all my hang ups. Thank you so much for your blog. It truly does inspire me. God Bless xoxo
Ashita Jain says
Everytime I read your blog it lights a spark to change my perspective and try the same things differently. You give me strength to overcome my past failures and try one more time – differently. Can’t thank you enough for showing me the light.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
I am so grateful for this encouraging feedback. It fuels me to keep sharing my journey and my heart. I am grateful for you, Ashita. !
Kelley Manning says
I am new to your blog having only “found you” a few weeks ago, but as I read and re-read and even go backwards in your post and continue to read more, I think “Where have you been my whole life” 🙂 Needless to say I thoroughly enjoy every single blog & can somehow apply every one to my life. I am a wife, a RN, a mother of two girls, 12 & 16, & most importantly I am a child of God. This blog made me stop and think more than I usually do after you post (and believe me, that’s saying a lot because I, too, have my little notebook filled with parts of your blog that simply help me as I need to go back re-visit something you’ve said). You’re very first question that you posted made the tears flow down my face…What will that moment look like when that long held resentment begins to wane? I have found my little moments when I think maybe, just maybe, it’s gone, but then something will happen & it returns.
Being a mother of two girls yourself I’m sure you can understand that feeling when someone says something to you and your child & it cuts deep into the very soul of who the both of you are. The child who appears so together on the outside, but her feelings are so very fragile & tender on the inside. As for the mother bear that received the words, well I just simply became more and more angry over time. A close friend that’s always been a little bit of a bully herself, but because she lives the street over, her in laws live next door to us, we have children the same age, & attend the same church, I’ve always simply let the comments out of her mouth go over the years. After all…how do escape someone who practically lives your life with you?
Over the last several months since the very hurtful comment was made, we have parted ways. Given her “strong” personality, she has managed to take a few of the mutual friends we had with her. I do believe, however, because we are so different, this ticking time bomb of a friendship was bound to go off at some point. Our parting ways has not been very easily done as you would imagine. My sweet 12 year old feels some blame in all of this which is heartbreaking to me. I do believe so much resentment has built up over the years inside me from the many things that have happened & I’ve wondered time and time again when what will that moment look like when I feel everything is going to be okay? When WILL that moment be?? So many times I think I’ve found it, but then we will find ourselves behind each other in carline or sitting a row apart in church or attending the same social function at school, & the resentment, although a little less stabbing than before, is still present.
I will continue as you’ve said to look for those little moments though. I know they’re there. I know those good moments will outweigh the uncomfortable ones. I thank you so much for each and every blog! I already am looking forward to the next one!
Oh I do the same thing, I look for the moment. I want that very clear turning point to tell me that it’s all going to be ok. And I never thought about it this way – that in noticing all of the Moments and Not Moments I’m really keeping hope and being fueled forward. I have so many moments I’m waiting for now – the moment when I know my freelance career will work out or the moment when I know my son will speak and be ok. I’ll be better, now, at enjoying all of the moments along the way. Thank you, friend.
I had a moment the other day. Not a good moment. A moment of despair that had me crying in fitful tears in my car at the post office. I cried out to God to please give me a sign that everything is going to be okay. That was on Monday. Since then, two things have happened to lead me to believe that 1) I’m not alone, and 2) everything might just end up okay. But I wouldn’t have registered them had I not been paying attention and actively searching for them. And then I read this. I’m counting this — your words here– as my third sign that everything’s going to be okay, that all I need to do is start opening my eyes and noticing these collections of moments that, small as they may be, are allowing me to hold a little light in my hands, and this light is leading me through the darkness.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
You are not alone, Lara. I can assure you of that. I am so glad you made it here, for this 3rd moment of hope. Please keep looking … keep looking … & may that little light grow brighter.
We’ve recently moved across the country and realities are starting to sink in. We had a few moments this week….a 15 year old sobbing “I wanna go home”…the next day receiving a text “i met someone”…holding my breath every morning and when the bus pulls home at 3:10 not sure what the mood of the moment is. Thanks for reminding me that things may never be just right, but to relish in the small victories.
Maybe slightly different but each day at dinner we play ‘Good Day – Bad Day’. Or rather ‘Bad Day – Good Day’ – as you need to end on a positive, right?
Each day there are good moments and bad ones. By taking it in turns to express ours, hopefully we all understand/appreciate that everything is made up of hopes, fears, good, bad, ugly, beautiful and the list goes on.
The Kids also know that ‘Mommy’ has those moments too.
Love your images. Really lovely.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you for sharing this! This is such a wonderful idea. I love the concept and also love the fact that it creates meaningful dinner conversation. Thank you for the compliment on the images on the blog. The majority of them are taken by my 11 year old daughter. I will pass on your kind word to her.
This is so beautiful. Thank you for this.
I really needed this today. I have felt like this all year, it seems. After having my first baby, life has just been turned upside down and I don’t know if I’ll ever feel normal again (it’s been a year, you’d think I’d have adjusted by now). Now we are in the middle of selling our house and trying to find a new one of our own (in the same city, luckily) and I am worried about those same feelings being multiplied by the move. Looking forward to little Moments that I can appreciate while waiting for The Big Moment…
Thanks for your blog I loved it! It reminds me of how much I love my family and also of my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for “The Moments” of all kinds He gives me in my life. Because I know I am a daughter of God and He loves me and hears my prayers I know that when those moments come they are a direct blessing from Him and they fill my life with joy. (: I absolutley love this article about gratitude, it says “How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/grateful-in-any-circumstances?cid=HPWE091014400&lang=eng. Thanks again!
Well, Rachel. You “got me” once again. Never once have I regretted opening your email notification for a new post. Your writing is articulate and truly truly speaks to my heart of hearts. You challenge me (and so many others!) to revisit my True Self. When I read (and reread!) your writing, I am motivated to be the best person I know I can be. Your posts consistently give me a breath of Hope and Inspiration. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us. Truly, my friend. Thank you. You are amazing.
Rachel, I must tell you that you have no idea how deeply your blogs touch me. I am in office and have not really read the above blog as I am busy working-will read it in the evening. But the glimpse of the pictures posted at the end; especially of the PE teacher and your little one, just brought tears to my eyes. I am so glad that your little firefly got the comfort of feeling loved. And I am so glad to see you getting settled well at your new place. And do convey your daughter that she has a big fan in India 🙂 lots of love to her, I really love her smile.
Elaine A. says
I need that tiny notebook around my neck! Like for real. I love how your posts make me think about things more than I normally would. Thank you!
Such beautiful words. This is exactly what I did when I came across the idea of the tiny notebook. I was thinking to myself that I have to do that. I have to have my children do that. 🙂
Reading this has been a moment for me. Thank you x
Joy McCready says
I am so grateful for your blog! Your posts always seem to show up when I need them the most. I hope you don’t mind – I mentioned your blog in my blog. Raising a daughter who has survived a brain aneurysm and not battles Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease every day is a challenge. Thank you for the encouragement and hope you provide for my journey! God bless you!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Joy I am honored to be mentioned on your blog and so appreciate you sharing my message! You are an inspiration! God bless you too!
In the year 2012, God told me to build my house. I’ve been on that journey since. One day, in my quest to find more books to help me along in my quest, I came across yours (Books-a-Million). I have made the decision to practice Hands Free Mama this year. My children are preteen to teens and I don’t want to waste any more time missing moments with them that need to be captured. The thing that I really love about this post is the tiny moments notebook. I really believe this is something that I want to practice doing in my own life. I also want my children to do it. I believe it would be a way of getting them to appreciate the simple things in life. Thank you for sharing your family moments with us. May God continue to bless and keep you and yours. Happy New Year.
Blogs like these make me really appreciate the value of family.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Erica. It is so uplifting to hear your story and to know how my journey has divinely intersected with yours. Bless you, friend.
Kelly S says
What a great re-post for the new year! I am going to tie a sweet little notebook around my own neck to remind me to keep looking for The Moment. Not really. Ok, maybe really. We moved two years ago and this summer I finally felt at home in our new city. Maybe I would have felt at home earlier if I had looked for The Moment where we are instead of grieving past moments and the moments I felt we were missing. Just beautiful. Thank you!
Rachel Stafford says
Please get yourself a tiny notebook — carry it in a purse, a backpack, or accessorize with it! You won’t be sorry. What I love most is looking back at old tiny notebooks and remembering Moments and Not Moments by reading my scribbles. I think there will be at least 100 of them when I am 80. Much love to you!
Thanks a lot for sharing this. I moved from my country Honduras 2 years ago and I struggle with that question, when will be the moment when feels this is my home? , and you’re right, that moment was when I discovered I have friends.
Is helpful for me to know is normal no felt every time will be that moment, but if I can remind the good ones it will be more easy handled the bad ones.
Happy New Year!
Musings, Rants & Scribbles says
Without bad moments, we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones. That seems to help me. Lovely post.
Judy Goodridge says
I have just been introduced to your blogs. After reading the first one about the way we speak to our children I quickly reposted for all my loved ones to read. And added “this is the best blog I have ever read”. Now after completing this blog ” A question to live by” I may have to repost. “No this is the best blog I have ever read”. I do not want to loose touch with your blogs. I am so touched by only two. I can’t imagine reading them regularly and how God might use you to inspire me. I am NSF right now till next pay check. Shame on me. But I do want to connect with you. I see there is a $17 month fee. Can you give me more info and please help me not to loose touch in the web world. Thank you with the most sincere heart I could have today.
863 899 6182
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Judy, I am so touched by your message. I am thrilled that you found my posts to be helpful and uplifting. I post a new article on my blog once a week. There is no cost. You can sign up to receive new blog posts to your email inbox. Just enter your email address in the box on the rightside of my blog titled “Subscribe to Posts.” You will need to confirm the subscription when you get an email from Feedburner. In addition to my blog, I post inspiring pieces on The Hands Free Revolution Facebook page on Monday through Friday. You can “like” the page and click “notifications” when you like the page to be notified when I add something new. Here is the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TheHandsFreeRevolution. There is no cost for this either. You can also follow me on Twitter. Whenever I post on Facebook, it posts the same thing to Twitter. #handsfreemama. Between these three platforms, you should be able to keep up with all my new posts. Also, I have written a book that covers much more about transformating my distracted life than any blog post ever could. You can check it out on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1gDzKRO. So grateful to share this journey with you!
Judy Goodridge says
Thank you sincerely, I have found the web page and announcing to my friends and family about your posts. I am a grandmother of 11, 7 of which are my blood grandchildren, four are from love, my husband’s children. I have four children he came to me with two. SO my heart is full tonight after finding your information, I want to share with my family.
Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies says
I want to sincerely thank you for this post, which found its way to me this morning. I’ve been in a bit of a winter funk lately and today it is 9 degrees and my kids are beyond crabby. I do try to always look on the bright side, but lately there have been a lot of Not Moments. I am a huge list maker, note taker, writer, and collector of words. I absolutely adore the tiny moment journal. I may adopt this not only for myself but also for my three children.
Meri Beyer says
Thank you for all your insights!
As I began to read your article I started to say to myself ‘this is me!’ ‘Oh yes, this is so me’!
I have noticed a tendency over the last few years to lose my cool and shout! This is not who I thought I was and quite frankly, I don’t like this person. I know that it just helps escalate everything that is going wrong into a bigger problem, but I still do it. I used to be so patient!
Most days I say to myself ‘I will not shout today, I will not feel as though I am losing control over these really petty things’, because honestly, they are always so petty and afterwards, wot the regret, co es the realisation that I actually made the situation three times as stressful.
So I will take heed and do the 3 second rule!!! It will be wonderful to see what a difference it makes to us as a family!
Thank you for your honesty and showing me that it really isn’t just me but more importantly, I can change and I can make a change!!
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