My concern with being a “Hands Free Mama”

Have you read the book Hands Free Mama?

Full confession: I didn’t make it all the way through.  If you have and you think I’m misrepresenting what it says, I hope you’ll let me know.

My concern is that by encouraging readers not to overvalue to-do lists and tasks, the book ends up undervaluing them.

Let me explain.  In the “Hands Free Pledge” readers commit that they want “to make memories, not to do lists,” “to be overwhelmed by sunsets that give me hope, not by overloaded agendas that still my joy,” and to have “the noise of my life to be a mixture of laughter and gratitude not the intrusive buzz of cell phones and text messages.”

Now, I’ll confess that I started twitching at the criticism of to-do lists (which I happen to love), so maybe my problem with the book has something to do with my task-oriented personality.

What I keep coming back to, though, is the idea that biblical productivity does matter.  We are called to be fruitful. Yes, we are to to be fruitful by teaching and loving our children, but also fruitful by making dinner, providing our families with a clean place to live, or making a meal for a new mom.

When I look at the Proverbs 31 woman or the Titus 2 woman, I see women who are busy with good things.  If I am busy with facebook, that is a problem (and, yes, it is a problem for me).  And if I am so busy with serving other people that I don’t take time to sit at the feet of Jesus or teach my own child, that is probably an instance of misplaced priorities, too.  But sometimes stewarding my time well means making a to do list and getting busy!

We’re called to be fruitful. And sometimes being fruitful means saying “no” when your child asks  you to read a book because you need to serve her and her dad by finishing dinner.  Sometimes it means saying no to dancing in the rain to write an email to a family member who needs encouragement.  Sometimes it means training your child to play alone quietly so you can call the doctor’s office without (too many) interruptions (can you guess what we are working on in the Harris home right now?).

I know I need to work on putting away my computer to give more undivided attention to my child.  But as we put down our phones, iPads, and notebooks, I hope we don’t put down the good tasks we are called to do.  Because we are called to be joyful and fruitful.

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5 thoughts on “My concern with being a “Hands Free Mama”

  1. I’m in the middle of reading Hands Free Mama right now and it has honestly challenged me in many ways to make sure I’m focusing on these precious moments. But I keep waiting to get to the “what now” and “real life” approach to actually doing that. Savoring these moments but still being efficient and productive which I haven’t seen her answer yet. So, I especially appreciate this post…from one task-oriented, to-do list to another 🙂

  2. Because I love comments on my own blog, I’ll leave one here as well as on Facebook! I loved this, Courtney, and so appreciate your perspective and wisdom and humility.

    Check out this blog post for more of the same. I feel like you and the author (who wrote “Jesus Feminist,” incidentally) are on the same page with work and mothering. Vocation is integral, not incidental, to our calling as humans, as my father-in-law Steve Garber always says! He just wrote a book about this very thing! Here’s the blog post: http://sarahbessey.com/dont-mind-tinies-see-computer/

    • Thanks so much, Becca! I loved Sarah’s blog post– she said much of what I was thinking, but so much better! And I hope you will share your thoughts on “Hands Free Mama” if you do read it because I know you’ve thought long and carefully about this whole issue of mothering and technology and I’d love to know what you thought! If you are looking for some “rah rah!” encouragement to put away your devices and focus on your children, it’s a great read. I just think, by itself, it is an incomplete guide to mothering.

  3. I haven’t read the book myself, but I’m thinking it is all about balance. Right now for instance my daughter LOVES to cuddle. She would be happy to be in my arms for many hours each day. Sometimes I have to say no to her to serve my other kids, to make meals, to get the house cleaned, etc. But when I’m saying no to her all the time to get things done, that’s a problem. Sometimes recently, in the middle of everything I’m doing, I’ve just sat down on the kitchen stool with her in my arms and cuddled her for a minute. Because I never technically “have” time for it, so I need to make time. I would just say we all need balance in this, and each day we’re probably going to err more on one side than the other, so the next day we correct it. And sometimes what’s on our to-do list should be things like cuddling, reading aloud, or playing outside :).

  4. Pingback: life & links - Becca Garber

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