I’m so pleased to host this beautiful reflection by Rachel Macy Stafford of Hands Free Mama on the blog today.
When my children were six and nine, I had a life-changing epiphany. As I applied lotion to my younger daughter’s face, I realized maybe I’ve been too hard on myself. Maybe I’ve been too hard on my children. And maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t have to be so hard. And then I wrote this:
What if it is more about lotion to their tender skin and less about applying pressure to succeed?
What if it’s less about extracurricular activities, test results, and flash cards and more about bedtime stories, picnics in the yard, and seeing the world from the top of a swing?
What if it’s less about pursuing perfection and more about embracing flaws?
What if it’s less about the number of goals scored and more about how many affirming words come from our lips?
What if it’s less about playing the notes in tune and more about playing them from the heart?
What if it’s more listening, less lecturing?
What if it’s more observing, less dictating?
What if it’s more rest, less rush?
What if it’s less about taking extravagant trips and more about taking every opportunity to know them as people?
What if it’s less about elaborate gifts and more about small, daily gestures of love?
What if it’s less about being first to cross the finish line and more about being the one who stops to help the fallen?
What if it’s less about what it looks like and more about the fact they did it by themselves?
What if it’s less about measuring up to their peers and more about baring the colors of their souls?
What if it’s less about who’s right and more about forgiveness when wronged?
What if it’s less about what the “experts” say and more about the fact you’ve looked into those eyes since the day they were born?
What if it’s less about complicated theories and more about plain and simple love?
What if it’s not written in a book but written on the heart of each individual child—how to parent, that is.
Let Your Heart Be Your Guide
What if? Truthfully, I don’t know. But something tells me if I made it more about our love, our trust, and our faith and less about society’s opinion, beliefs, and standards, I could breathe easier. And my child could breathe easier, too.
Then maybe one day we’ll look back, my grown child and I, and we’ll celebrate the way we navigated life—not by following mainstream society, but by letting our hearts be our guide.
So until that day comes, I’ll cover her with a good dose of nourishing lotion and unconditional love.
And go easy on all the other stuff.
Rachel Macy Stafford is a certified special education teacher with a Master’s Degree in education and ten years of experience working with parents and children. In December 2010, this life-long writer felt compelled to share her journey to let go of distraction and grasp what really matters by creating the blog “Hands Free Mama.” Using her skills as a writer, teacher, and encourager, Rachel provides readers with simple, non-intimidating, and motivating methods to let go of distraction and connect with their loved ones. Rachel’s work has been featured in USA Today, TIME.com, MSN.com, PBS.org, The Huffington Post, and Reader’s Digest. Her blog currently averages one million visitors a month. Her newly released book, Hands Free Mama, is now available for purchase.