Seems that I’m on a book review kick here on the blog!
I listened to Rachel Stafford Author of Hands Free Mama on a podcast a few weeks back put out by power of moms radio. I thought her message was really inspiring and I had been thinking about it for some time when I was at the library and while not even looking for it, saw it sitting on the shelf. I was so excited to get to read it! I could really relate to her struggles of living in the moment and the way she said she lived her life for two years, too busy to stop and savor the little things in life. The full title of the book is Hands Free Mama A guide to putting down the phone, burning the to-do list, and letting go of perfection to grasp what really matters! I’m not a huge phone person and I think I’ve taken little steps in my life to keep that from being too much of an issue (although I still struggle with the temptation!) but the parts of the book about connecting with your children, playing with your children, making memories with your children even when you’d rather be cleaning the kitchen and getting the to- do list done- I could totally relate to that. I also saw myself in her when she talked about over commitment. I have a really hard time saying no because I want to be there for every body and do what I can for as many people as I can but she’s right when she points out that a mother trying to be everything for everybody is going to end up neglecting the needs of those closest to her, her children and husband.
The term “hands free” comes from a story in her book telling about the first decision she made to be present and let go of distractions. She was in the middle of doing so many things at once when she looked over and saw her daughter sitting on the couch watching a movie. She stopped everything she was doing and went and sat next to her daughter. When she did so her daughter smiled then kissed her mother’s palm.
Since reading through this I’ve done a better job at keeping in mind what she refers to as, “sunset moments.” Those precious times when I stop folding the laundry, get on the floor with my 1 year old and am rewarded with a slobbery kiss and a funny baby grin. Those moments when I am fully present with those I love instead of being distracted by any number of things.
It’s a really fun read too because she tells a lot of stories from what she calls her “hands free journey.” It’s not just a condemning list of, mother, don’t do this or that! It really is a great reminder of, isn’t this what you want in life? Aren’t these the things that are important to you? The book is meant to be read over a year. Each chapter is meant for 1 month at a time with habits to implement along the way. Of course I read the whole book in like 2 weeks or less but I liked it so much I would really like to go through it again at a slower pace.
You can find Rachel on Facebook on her handsfree revolution page where she shares inspiring messages to live for today and to invest your time in your closest relationships not waste it on things that don’t matter. The book really is a wake up call to a person like me who easily lives in a highly distracted state of mind. It reminds me that I only have one shot at my kids childhood and then it’s over and done and becomes the past. In the future how will I look back on this time? Will I be full of regret that I lived in constant irritation with my kids for messing up my hard work and getting in the way of my plans? Or will I look back and smile that I squeezed out of life every chance to feel awe with my children while taking in the world around us? Did I savor the cuddles and breathe in their smelly baby sent before it was gone? Did I truly see them and live with my eyes wide open and undistracted?
A couple of my favorite chapters were “Silence The Inner Critic” and “Let Go.” She discusses the needless stress moms can place on themselves in the endless pursuit of trying to be the perfect mom and the perfect wife and the perfect everything. I think in today’s society where there are not a lot of great role models showing us what motherhood looks like it easy to try and build a model in our minds of what motherhood is supposed to look like all the while not realizing that the image created in our minds is totally unrealistic. I know the days when I collapse at night totally drained having given my 100% to my children all day my husband sometimes tells me that what I think I need to be and do for my children is too much and they don’t really need all that. I’m still a work in process but yes I’m learning to let go and stop being so hard on myself.
Rachel’s mantra in the book that she said in the beginning of her hands free journey she repeated to herself over and over was, “only love today.”
Only love today…