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A Rare and Beautiful Gift

3 Things by Rachel Stafford, Hands Free Mama

3 Things by Rachel Stafford, Hands Free Mama


I spent much of my life wishing away time. On one too many occasions, these hasty lines came from my lips:

“I can’t wait for school to start.”

“I wish the warmer weather would finally get here.”

“When is it going to be Friday? This week is killing me.”

“I can’t wait for her to be able to ride in the booster seat.”

“I look forward to the day she stops sucking her thumb.”

To put it bluntly, I wished time away. But that all changed one day as I watched my child intently studying a dandelion she picked in our backyard.

“If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?” I asked curiously anticipating what my then four-year-old daughter would say. I expected her response to involve seashells, princesses, cotton candy, or Toy Story characters. But surprisingly, it didn’t involve any of that.

“Picking dandelions with you,” my child replied without a moment’s hesitation.

Out of any place in the world she could dream of being, my child chose to be right where she was in that very moment.

It was so simple. So obvious. But most of the time, so incredibly difficult.

Because in this fast-paced, task-driven, media-saturated world, slowing down takes effort. Allowing oneself to simply be in the moment at hand is a rare and beautiful gift. How easily I forget that there is no guarantee that tomorrow will even come.

Or that tomorrow will be as wonderful as it is today.

Thanks to the wisdom of a child, things are different now. Instead of wishing time away, I find myself hoping time would stand still… so I could savor it just a little more.


At the conclusion of my children’s sporting events and musical performances, I always felt the need to give feedback, constructive criticism, or “helpful” hints.

Then I stumbled upon this powerful insight based on three decades of research by Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC.

“When hundreds of college and professional athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame, their overwhelming response: ‘I love to watch you play.’ ” (Source)

I decided to give it a try after my daughter’s swim meet.

Normally, I would have complimented her stroke formation or kick turn with a little correction thrown in for good measure. But this time I simply said, “I love to watch you swim.” For the first time ever, my daughter just melted into me.

With her wet head resting on my chest, I swear I could read her mind: The pressure’s off. My mom loves to watch me swim.

Since that day, I’ve left the constructive criticism to the coaches and the teachers. And judging by my kids’ smiles, fewer words and more love is exactly what is needed from me after they’ve given their all.


I encourage everyone to find a good hat.

A stylish piece of headwear that can be thrown on when you want to give yourself a little more time and a little less stress. I love the Mossimo fedoras from Target (maybe a little too much—please don’t look in my closet).

I started wearing hats when I ditched the pursuit of perfection. With freedom from perfectly-styled hair and other unnecessary pressures came the ability to have more fun. Now, I almost always grab a hat before I head out the door. Funny thing is, someone is following in my footsteps—because time is too precious to waste on styling hair when you could be singing a song.



Contributor: Rachel from Hands Free Mama
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