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Focus on the Family Broadcast

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Thriving as a Mom

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Thriving as a Mom

Kara-Kae James describes how she struggled with a cycle of anxiety and depression as a mom until she learned how to thrive by seeking counseling, letting go of perfectionism, and relying on God. She offers moms encouragement, inspiration, and help in this discussion based on her book Mom Up: Thriving With Grace in the Chaos of Motherhood.
Original Air Date: May 8, 2020

Today's Guests

Episode Summary

Kara-Kae James describes how she struggled with a cycle of anxiety and depression as a mom until she learned how to thrive by seeking counseling, letting go of perfectionism, and relying on God. She offers moms encouragement, inspiration, and help in this discussion based on her book Mom Up: Thriving With Grace in the Chaos of Motherhood.
Original Air Date: May 8, 2020

Episode Transcript

Excerpt:

Kara-Kae James: Most of the time people would say, “Oh, I’m sorry to tell you this, but motherhood is just about surviving.” And I was told that over and over again. And so, I started to believe that. But one time there was one woman that I went to and I said, “Please help me. Help me see a little bit of hope in this.” And she grabbed me by the shoulders, and she said, “You can thrive in this and you can do it now.”

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Kara-Kae James is our guest today on Focus on the Family. And she’ll have ideas on how you can embrace grace and find rest as a busy mom. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, this Sunday is one of the most meaningful holidays on the calendar. It’s Mother’s Day. Yay!

John: Mmm hmm.

Jim: I hope you, uh, thought that through. (Laughter)

John: Oh, absolutely. Yes. I’ve reminded the kids time and again, you gotta do something.

Jim: You know, moms do so much. They wipe the tears and maybe some other things. They wash clothes, give hugs, act as chauffeurs (laughter) and manage the, uh, family schedule and so much more. Being a mom is a full-time job and then some.

John: It is. In fact, Jim, I read that, uh, some researchers crunched the numbers, so to speak.

Jim: I’ve heard about this number crunching.

John: They figured out 98 hours a week is what moms do…

Jim: Jeez.

John: …And that most moms should be earning a six-figure salary by, uh, most standards.

Jim: Well, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I mean, I wish I could pay Jean that.

(Laughter)

John: Yes.

Jim: But moms today, we want to say thank you and offer you some encouragement. And husbands, it’s important for us to lean in and really understand what our wives are thinking and feeling. We struggle with that generally, but we need to heighten our awareness, especially on Mother’s Day weekend, to really understand better what they’re providing as moms.

John: Mmm hmm.

Jim: So today, we’re going to honor mothers as we talk to our great guest.

John: And, uh, as I said, Kara-Kae James is with us. Uh, she’s an author and founder of the online community Thrive Moms. She’s married to Brook and, uh, has four kids, all under the age of 10.

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: Ooh. (Laughter)

John: So, she’s really earning that money that we’ve been talking about.

Jim: Where are they?

Kara-Kae: Uh, at home…

(Laughter)

Kara-Kae: …Away from me.

Jim: Welcome, Kara-Kae, to Focus on the Family.

Kara-Kae: Thank you so much for having me.

Jim: Hey, we’re talking about motherhood today obviously. We’re coming into Mother’s Day weekend, but you never, uh, really wanted to become a mom. And I – I appreciate that honesty. I think a lot of women share that, um, today, that fear…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …That inadequacy, perhaps, or whatever it might be. Uh, when you started having kids you say you hated every minute of motherhood.

Kara-Kae: Hmm.

Jim: Explain why – this is going to connect to probably a million women, as you say this. (Laughter)

Kara-Kae: Absolutely, yeah.

Jim: But what was going on?

Kara-Kae: Yeah. I started out and said, “OK, I can’t do this mom thing well.” And I was a big perfectionist, and so I thought, “If I can’t do it perfectly, I probably shouldn’t do it.” And…

Jim: That is the definition of a perfectionist.

Kara-Kae: Exactly.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And so, I knew I probably wanted to have kids, but they were going to take the backseat to me and my career and my marriage. And in – in a lot of ways, that’s healthy, you know, for your marriage to be a big focus. But I didn’t really understand the importance of mothering children and the gospel connection there, and the way that we are really equipping these tiny humans to know and follow Jesus and what that looks like.

Jim: Well, it’s so important, uh, for listeners to connect with that.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: I’m serious when I say that.

Kara-Kae: Yeah, absolutely.

Jim: I can remember days where Jean didn’t feel like being a mom.

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: And like, you know…

Kara-Kae: There’s so many days where you just want to escape.

Jim: Yeah. You want to, like, retire quickly.

Kara-Kae: Absolutely.

Jim: “I’m done with this. You take it over.”

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: In fact, there was one day – and I (laughter) – and I related to this. You – you – I think it involved something with a sippy cup…

Kara-Kae: Uh-huh.

Jim: …Going across the room…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …And hitting the wall. Describe what happened and why was that the bottom…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …Of all bottoms?

Kara-Kae: So, when I finally decided to become a mom, my husband and I were actually a little surprised by our first child. She was a pleasant surprise, um, but we said, “OK. Well, we want to have more than one kid. So, let’s just get this over with.”

(Laughter)

Kara-Kae: And we ended up having three in less than three years. And so, I didn’t know how much that would change and alter me. And I didn’t know how much that would…

Jim: Mmm.

Kara-Kae: …Affect my identity and the way that I saw my relationship with my husband, with God, with so many things. And it had this huge impact. And it really, you know, hormones and all of those things aside, it just really altered me. And one day my 2-year-old didn’t pick up her toys correctly, which, as we all know, 2-year-olds don’t do that. And I mean, she’s 10 now, and still, I’m like, “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you pick up your toys?”

John: (Laughter) “When will you get it?”

Jim: Right.

Kara-Kae: “Are you gonna to figure this out?” But she’s 2, and she’s not cleaning up her mess.

Jim: Obviously not a perfectionist. (Laughter)

Kara-Kae: No. And she – it’s – the funny thing is she really is now.

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: And it’s – I laugh at it now because she’s such a perfectionist. But I took a sippy cup of milk and threw it against the wall in the kitchen. And my two toddlers just stood at attention, and they were overwhelmed. “What happened to our mom? She used to be really nice and now she’s crazy.” And every time I tell that story to women, they’re like, “I’ve thrown something, too. I get that. I get that, being so buried and lost in this season and feeling so overwhelmed.” And you – especially when you have little ones and you can’t have a normal adult conversation with them, and you just feel like you’re drowning.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And I know so many days I felt like that, that I was just so overwhelmed that I was drowning.

John: Mmm hmm.

Kara-Kae: And there was nothing that was going to bring me out of that.

Jim: You know, your title is great, Mom Up. You know, a play off of “man up,” obviously.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: So, Mom Up. And in there, you describe being in that survival mode.

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: I’m sure many moms right now are listening, maybe.

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, they’re getting a couple of minutes of this…

Kara-Kae: (Laughter) Mmm hmm.

Jim: …And they’re between all the duties we talked about at the opening – the chauffeuring of the kids, making the lunches, taking care of snotty noses, all that stuff…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …And much, much more – maybe working, too…

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: …And doing all that.

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: That’s more typical today. So how did you get through the day-to-day when you felt so miserable and so much in that survival mode?

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: Did – how’d you get up? How’d you keep going?

Kara-Kae: There was a season that – when my kids were really small like that – I would go to moms that had been there, that their kids were older. And I would look to them and say, “OK. Tell me this gets better. Tell me I get to a point that I feel like I’m not just surviving every day.”

Jim: Did you – how did you choose that person to ask that question?

Kara-Kae: I had some…

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: …Older mentors…

Jim: What attracted you to – OK.

Kara-Kae: …Within the church that I was in a Bible study group with and those sort of things. And I’m so glad that God placed those women in my life in that season. Um, but there was one woman – because most of the time people would say, “Oh, I’m sorry to tell you this, but motherhood is just about surviving.” And I was told that over and over again. And so, I started to believe that. That I’m just supposed to get by. But one time there was one woman that I went to and I said, “Please help me. Help me see a little bit of hope in this.”

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And she grabbed me by the shoulders, and she said, “You can thrive in this and you can do it now.”

John: Hmm.

Kara-Kae: And it completely changed my life because it transformed the fact that I knew that Jesus was talking to me when he said, “I came to give you life and give you life in abundance.” And I’d always looked at that as He was talking to my pastor or my husband or someone who wasn’t lost in the chaos of raising kids. But as I looked through Scripture, I found nothing that said, “OK, moms, this part isn’t for you”…

John: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: …But, “I need to give you life in abundance.” And that completely transformed me when realized that abundant life was for me, even when I felt like I was drowning, and I was throwing sippy cups (laughter) at the wall and felt like I couldn’t get through the day.

Jim: Well, you had that conversation, I think, with a counselor, uh, where you had that realization…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …That you couldn’t be the superhero mom.

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: I think a lot of moms suffer from that…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …Comparison thing.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: It’s very common. Uh, who or what broke you from that kind of comparison, that “I think I need to be able…”

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: “…To do all this – I’m feeling like I can’t”?

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: And how did you reconcile that?

Kara-Kae: Yeah. I – like I mentioned, I’m a perfectionist. I’m very Type A. And so those kinds of things are difficult for me because I want to do everything perfectly.

John: Mmm hmm.

Kara-Kae: And if I can’t do it perfectly, why do it?

John: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And so, I realized I had created this, um, image of myself where I was the superhero. I was the best mom because if I was gonna do this mom thing, I needed to do it the best. And I needed to win, and I needed everybody to look at me as, “OK. This is how you do motherhood.” And I realized I was hiding behind that, you know, facade of perfect motherhood. And it wasn’t what God called me into.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And like you said, I was meeting with a counsellor and she said, “What makes you think that you have to do it all?” And…

Jim: (Laughter) Simple…

Kara-Kae: I was like…

Jim: …Question.

Kara-Kae: So – such a simple question. I thought, “Well, I have to do it all. I’m a mom.”

John: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And she said, “No. No, you don’t. You don’t have to do it all.”

John: Hmm.

Kara-Kae: And so that really helped me realize that I’m not going to be perfect…

Jim: How did you…

Kara-Kae: …And that’s OK.

Jim: Yeah. And how did you process that though? Some people can hear that…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …And it bounces off of them.

Kara-Kae: Right. And it wasn’t a immediate thing for sure. It took years and years of practice. Um, and one thing that really helped me was by shifting my mindset to where instead of dreading the day ahead of, “OK, it’s another day of making lunches and getting kids to school and washing their clothes” – instead of all of those things, I shifted my mindset from a “I have to do this” to an “I get to do this.” And that really helped me see my job as really important…

John: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: …That it was this God-honoring role that I was placed in and opened my eyes to the fact that, like I said, I get to raise these little humans to know Jesus and what an amazing gift that is. And so, I – I wake up every morning, even on the hard days, and say, “I get to do this. This is a gift.”

John: Hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And it took years and years of reminding myself that…

John: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: …Before I actually believed it.

Jim: What does it mean to be intentional about motherhood? I – I’m sure…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …It was born out of that…

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: …Kind of that progressive time. And what I mean by that is…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …You learned a little bit progressively…

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: …Over time. (Laughter)

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: And so, did you – did you come to this realization about intentional motherhood and what does that…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …Look like?

Kara-Kae: So, I look at intentional motherhood in two ways. Um, I think a lot of times as moms, you know, maybe we were working in the corporate world before and then we began to stay home. Or maybe we are working a job and we feel like we’re stuck between these two identities of “I’m a mom, but I’m expected to do this job.” You know, there’s all these things about identity that we get lost when we become a mom. And so, the first thing for me in becoming an intentional mom was really rediscovering who I was in Christ and remembering who He said that I was, because we forget that.

Jim: Practically, what does that look like, though, for the mom that’s so desperate right now?

Kara-Kae: Yeah, absolutely.

Jim: She’s back in like, “I’m in…”

Kara-Kae: “I am lost…”

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: “…And I can’t.” Yeah.

Jim: What does that look like to kind of put yourself in Christ, to…

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: …Be there, be at peace?

Kara-Kae: What I did in that season was I went through Scripture. And I would take just a journal – a notebook – and I would rewrite Scripture, like, as if Jesus was saying this to me. “This is who you are. This is what I made you to do.” And it really transformed my mind to see, “Oh, my goodness, this is for me. And I can read these Scriptures and know that I’m worthy, that I’m seen, that I’m loved, that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.” And to be able to look at Scriptures through that lens and really ask God, “What is my identity? Now that I feel like all of these labels of myself were stripped away, what does that mean for me?”

Jim: Of course, Kara-Kae, you can hear through the microphones, people, women are saying, “Where’d you find time to journal?”

John: Yes.

Kara-Kae: Exactly.

(Laughter)

Jim: “I mean, what? Journal?”

John: What kind of help did you have?

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, where did you get those 10 minutes? I mean…

Kara-Kae: Yeah. And that was…

Jim: And how critical was it?

Kara-Kae: …Literally what that was.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: I would take time – when my kids were little, I would take time when I was rocking a baby at 2 a.m.

Jim: To journal.

Kara-Kae: And I would journal in my phone. Thank goodness for smartphones now for moms. I don’t know how moms did it years ago.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: Um, but I would open the Bible on my app when it was 2 a.m. and I would find myself frustrated. I would say, “OK, I’m not gonna allow the enemy to get in my head in this moment and tell me that this child is against me because they’re up wanting to eat at 2 a.m.”

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: “But I’m going to listen to what God says.”

Jim: You gotta remember they’re just hungry.

Kara-Kae: Exactly.

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: And I – the whole time thinking, “This child hates me and doesn’t want me to sleep.” But just finding those little pockets of time – like, I talk about in my book that I grew up in this culture of, you have to have your quiet time. And then I became a mom and learned there’s nothing quiet about motherhood. There is no quiet moment.

Jim: Yeah. (Laughter)

Kara-Kae: And so, I had to find those – those pockets of time when my kids were literally running circles around me, that I could say, “OK, don’t kill each other. I’m going to open my Bible and have my quote, unquote, ‘quiet time’ right now” even though it’s…

Jim: …Quiet loud time. (Laughter)

Kara-Kae: …So chaotic. And that really helped me see that God isn’t just going to meet us in the, you know, 5 a.m. quiet time – because I am not a morning person.

John: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And so that was, you know, really good for me to see that He will meet us anywhere that we are.

Jim: And that’s that intentional motherhood.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: That’s one of four…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …Uh, ideas you have for moms to thrive.

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: Another was parenting sweet spot.

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: I think I’ve got that. Is that when the kids are asleep? (Laughter)

Kara-Kae: Uh, absolutely.

(Laughter)

Kara-Kae: When they are asleep, it is just perfection.

Jim: What is the parenting sweet spot?

Kara-Kae: So, the sweet spot is – I discovered, because I have four kids and I learned that they are all different. And this was shocking to me for some reason because I think I thought, “Oh, they’re just kids. They’re gonna be little carbon copies of me and of each other.” And that was not the case at all. And they’re so different. And so, I had to find that sweet spot with each one of them to connect with them in a way that worked for them and their personalities.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And that really helped me be more intentional with them because I would try something with one of my kids, and it wouldn’t work at all, and then I’d try it with another, and it worked great.

Jim: You know, Kara-Kae, that can be overwhelming…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …For some moms…

Kara-Kae: Absolutely.

Jim: …Especially if you have four kids…

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: …Under 10, like you do.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: And, you know, you’re speaking from that experience. How does a mom, uh, create the curiosity…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …Within her…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …To say, “OK. I’m gonna learn each of my children in that way”? Because that sounds exhausting, too.

Kara-Kae: It does, yeah.

Jim: But actually, it’s one of the best things you could do as a mom…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …And a dad…`

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …Is to know the individual nature of each of your children.

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: It’s kind of like that great Scripture, you know, “Train up a child in the way they should go.” And, you know, to help them in their bent, I think…

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: …Is another reference to that. It can be exhausting.

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: But how do you not look at it as an exhausting thing but as an exhilarating thing, a good thing?

Kara-Kae: I started just bringing my kids along in everyday things, like, “Hey, do you want to go grocery shopping with me?” and then asking them questions about things they enjoy, things they want to do.

John: Mmm hmm.

Kara-Kae: And it started showing me, OK, these are the things that really – that they’re really passionate about. Um, my oldest daughter, she wants to go sit at Starbucks and look me in the eye and tell me stories about her and her friends because that’s something that’s meaningful to her. But my youngest is a little boy. And I had three girls and then a boy, and I’ve learned that boys are crazy…

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: …And so much fun.

John: They’re not really into so much face-to-face over a cup of coffee or tea, yeah.

Kara-Kae: They are not. So, he wants to attack me with swords and…

Jim: No.

(Laughter)

Kara-Kae: You know? And so, I found ways to entertain him that connect with him.

John: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And so, I think it’s just so good to really, first of all, ask them, “What do you love to do? What are you passionate about?” – because I think we look at them as kids and we think, “Well, they don’t know. They’re so young.” But they can tell us. And they have minds and hearts, and they have so many things that they want to do.

Jim: I think that’s one of the things that, as I look back now with, you know, late teens that Jean and I have, I – I definitely underestimated their ability to grasp things at an early age.

Kara-Kae: Right. Absolutely.

Jim: They can understand far more than sometimes…

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: …We as parents understand.

John: Yeah, I have that same conviction. They’re also listening more than I thought they were. (Laughter)

Kara-Kae: It’s so true.

John: Ouch.

Kara-Kae: Yes, because they will listen to conversations that my husband and I have. And then they’ll come later and say, “I want to know about what you guys were talking about.”

John: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And they really care. And they want to know about the things that we’re passionate about too.

Jim: Yeah, that’s amazing.

Kara-Kae: So, I love that.

John: Kara-Kae James is our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And we’re going to encourage you to get her book Mom Up. We’ve got it and other resources to help you as a mom at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: I also want to touch on another element where you emphasize the importance of marriage.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: It’s pretty important, obviously. And it’s hard to do. But how do you go about practically doing that? How did you and Brook…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …Keep it together as a couple with kids rather than…

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: …Just being mom, and husband gets leftovers or however you want to say it?

Kara-Kae: Yeah. Yeah, there were so many times that felt like the case because I – I’m giving so much…

Jim: And sometimes that will the case.

Kara-Kae: It will be. And that’s OK. But I think if we can really create a – an atmosphere in our home where our kids know mom and dad are so important – because at some point – I remind myself that this actually will happen – they’ll grow up and go away.

Jim: (Laughter) Well, that’s the hope.

Kara-Kae: And I think that will be a good thing.

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: That’s the hope.

John: And then come back.

(Laughter)

Kara-Kae: Yeah, come back and see us. But, you know, I think about what happens when the last one leaves.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: Um, will we be here standing strong together, or will we be looking at each other saying, “Who are you? I think I remember you from 20 years ago,” but…

Jim: Right.

Kara-Kae: And so, it’s so important to continue to cultivate and grow together.

Jim: What are some things you can do? What did you guys do? I mean, practically.

Kara-Kae: We – yeah, practically, when our kids were that little, we – when I was exhausted…

Jim: Like right now.

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: Yeah; I mean, really now, too. But we’re in a – we’re in a different season because our kids are – I mean, I say easier, but a little easier than they were…

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: …When they were three under 3.

Jim: Little more independent.

John: They can at least dress themselves.

Kara-Kae: They can dress themselves and make their own food and things like that. But when they were so little – and we didn’t have – I mean, my husband’s a pastor. We – and I was – I wasn’t working during that season. And so, we were not financially in a place that we could just go out every week. And I think a lot of, you know, people – couples struggle with that. “Well, we’re pouring so much into our kids, we can’t financially bear the burden of getting a babysitter, going to dinner.” And so, we encouraged couples to have date nights at home.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And we set a thing for ourselves. And we did – one year, we did 52 date nights that were free or basically free. And so, we would – Friday nights would be date night. We’d put the kids to bed, and we would make dinner together.

Jim: Hmm.

Kara-Kae: We – sometimes we would just watch a movie.

Jim: Just have time together.

Kara-Kae: But it was very intentional to say, this is our night that we focus on each other and we sit down and we look each other in the eye and – “How was your week?” – and really have a conversation as opposed to talking about – and, you know, no kid conversation at this table and really…

Jim: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: …Focus on each other’s hearts and what’s going on.

John: And this relies on something you said earlier, Kara-Kae, about realizing, “I can’t do everything.”

Kara-Kae: Right.

John: I – I – I remember the moment, Jim, where I looked at Dena, and she looked at me, and we thought, “It’s never all gonna get done.”

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

John: “There’s just no way. The to-do lists are too big, too great. Something’s always breaking. Something always needs attention.”

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

John: So, you let go of some things.

Kara-Kae: Right.

John: But that’s hard.

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: It’s especially hard for the perfectionist…

Kara-Kae: It is. (Laughter)

Jim: …As you self-described…

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: …At the beginning of the program. Jean can identify. And as we were – you know, I was getting ready for the program, I was talking to her about it…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: And she goes, “I love this woman.”

(Laughter)

Jim: Because she was – you know, I think, for the perfectionist, it’s hard ’cause it’s hard to rest and say, “OK, I get it. I get that I won’t be able to do everything perfectly.”

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: But that’s reality.

Kara-Kae: Absolutely.

Jim: And for that woman, um, where you can hear it…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …But it’s hard to apply, or far worse, you feel like you’re a failure because you can’t live up to your own expectation, then you can begin to kind of lash out at your husband. I mean, it becomes emotional.

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: “You’re not good enough.” And “How come you haven’t said I’m pretty lately?”

Kara-Kae: (Laughter).

Jim: You know, wow, it can go in so many different directions.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: So how – what – what wisdom do you have to speak to that mom to just breathe, know that it’s not gonna be perfect…

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: …And really live it that way?

Kara-Kae: Yeah. I think finding some things we can let go – let go control of is really helpful. I’m in a season where my older three are all in elementary school, and they’re in that, like, tearing away of me doing everything for them to gaining independence, and that can be hard because I want to have control. But I’ve given them these areas to say, “OK. This is yours.” Two of my kids are absolute slobs. I love them so very much.

John: (Laughter).

Kara-Kae: But I’m like, “Can you clean your room?” And it was causing a lot of strife between us.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Kara-Kae: Because I was getting frustrated with them. They were getting frustrated with me because their version of clean wasn’t the same. And I finally just set them down and said, “You know what? I think – I think mom was wrong. I’m very sorry for the way that I have approached this. And I want you to have independence over this. So, I’m going to let go. And I – I expect one day out of the week for your room to be clean.” And then, I mean, we have some consequences and things that happen.

Jim: (Laughter) We kinda got to that, too.

Kara-Kae: Yeah. And – but I had to let go of control.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And I just close the door to their room and say…

Jim: …When company comes.

Kara-Kae: “It’s OK. It’s OK. I can’t control this. And I have to let them grow to be independent.”

Jim: Yeah. Our rule was no rotting food and no bad smells.

Kara-Kae: That is a great rule to have.

(Laughter)

Jim: No bad smells.

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: If clothes aren’t put away, that’s on you.

Kara-Kae: Absolutely.

Jim: But that’s true.

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: It’s so true. Kara-Kae, we are right near the end. But I kind of saved this because I – I know some women are saying, “Wow, it sounds like she’s got it all together.”

Kara-Kae: Right. (Laughter)

Jim: “And I can’t do that.” But the zinger in all this story is that you suffered from postpartum anxiety and depression, so you’re speaking from a wealth of experience.

Kara-Kae: Right. Right.

Jim: Describe that, and especially identify with that woman that may be in that same spot.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: What did that feel like?

Kara-Kae: It felt like a bit of a out-of-body experience. Um, I was in a season – it was after I had three babies in less than three years, and it was that sippy-cup-against-the-wall moment that really opened my eyes of, “Something is going on here.”

Jim: You were worried.

Kara-Kae: And I realized, “I am unhealthy.” And, um, as someone that is always striving to be great at what she does, it was hard for me to admit. And I know a lot of women that I talk to, they say, “I never wanted to admit it, and so I didn’t talk to anybody. I didn’t say anything.” And so, you know, maybe you’re listening, and you find yourself in that situation; I really encourage you to find a safe place to talk to somebody. For me, it was my husband – that I just went to him and said, “Something’s wrong. I don’t know what, but something’s wrong and something’s off.” And he took me to the doctor. He kind of had to drag me to the doctor.

Jim: Well, that’s a good insight, though…

Kara-Kae: It is. It is good.

Jim: …For you husbands.

Kara-Kae: Yeah. And because they don’t know.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: They know we have some hormone things going on. They know that everything’s overwhelming, but they don’t actually know really what’s going on in our minds and our bodies that throw us off completely.

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: And so, going through that season, it was about a year. And I – I joke now that I don’t remember the first year of my daughter’s life that (laughter) was born in that season. And now I’m very close with her, but, um – it – part of it is true that I was so lost in just everything that was going on – this battle in my mind. And I could barely step foot out of my house. Um, my husband was a pastor. I couldn’t go to church because it was just the crowds…

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Kara-Kae: …Overwhelmed me. And, you know, and there were times that I thought, “OK, I’m gonna get in my car and I’m gonna drive into this telephone pole so maybe I could break my arm, go to the E.R. and get a – just a break from parenting.”

Jim: Wow, yeah.

John: Mmm.

Kara-Kae: I mean, and it’s those things that women are afraid to say out loud…

Jim: Yeah.

Kara-Kae: …That I think they need somebody to come alongside them. And the reason I called my book Mom Up is I wanted to call moms to a higher standard, call moms to realize “I can do this.” And we’ve been patted on the back for so long. “Oh, you’re doing a great job.” But what if I want to do better? What if I don’t want to be stuck in this cycle of frustration and anxiety and depression and whatever that looks like?

Jim: And I think – and this is really important what you’re saying there. The doing better component as I’ve watched my own wife…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …Isn’t so much in the items…

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: …The stuff.

Kara-Kae: Right.

Jim: It’s in the internal heart…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …The attitude of it all…

Kara-Kae: Yeah…

Jim: …Right? I mean…

Kara-Kae: …Because our kids are great.

Jim: Right.

Kara-Kae: They’re happy and they’re…

Jim: But it’s almost…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …The reverse of what you feel – to calm down…

Kara-Kae: Yes.

Jim: …And enjoy the journey rather than be really uptight about every little detail…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …Which is gonna really mess with you…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …As a mom and a dad too. Uh, Kara-Kae, this has been awesome.

Kara-Kae: Oh, this was so fun.

Jim: And it’s good stuff. Mom Up, what a great resource, and let me tell you to her point a moment ago to talk to somebody you trust. Uh, Focus is here for you.

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: Um, John will give those details in a minute. But if you need someone to talk to, if you feel like you’re out of control…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …Or you’re worried about some of the behavioral things you’re experiencing as a new mom, as a mom with three kids…

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: …Four kids under 10, whatever it might be…

Kara-Kae: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …We’re here to talk with you about that. We can give you some help, certainly give you a resource like Kara-Kae’s great book Mom Up. But Kara-Kae, we have an interesting little addition here at Mother’s Day. Uh, you didn’t know this was gonna happen.

Kara-Kae: OK. (Laughter)

Jim: But we had a little phone call with your kids.

Kara-Kae: Oh, no. (Laughter)

Jim: And, uh, they gave us, uh, some words for you…

Kara-Kae: OK.

Jim: …About Mother’s Day. Let’s listen now.

Kara-Kae: OK.

Jessi James: My name is Jessi, and I’m 9 years old. My favorite thing about my mom is that she always helps us and takes care of us and plays with us. And, um, we always have fun, and I really enjoy it.

Zoey James: My first name is Zoey, and I am 8 years old. My favorite thing about my mom is probably when I tell jokes to her and stuff. I like when she laughs.

Kenzi James: I’m Kenzi, and I’m 6. I love you so, so much.

Jessi: I would like to thank her for, um, taking care of us.

Zoey: She does the laundry all the time…

Jessi: …Helping us with everything we need help with.

Zoey: To make her know how much I love her, I’d probably put, “I’ve loved you ever since I was little.”

Kendrick James: I love you, mommy.

Kara-Kae: Aw, Kendrick.

Jim: “I love you, mommy.” Isn’t that awesome?

Kara-Kae: I didn’t expect to come here and cry today.

(Laughter)

Jim: Yeah, I know. You got the tears in your eyes.

Kara-Kae: That’s so sweet.

Jim: That’s the right response.

Kara-Kae: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, they sound like wonderful…

Kara-Kae: They are great kids.

Jim: …Little ones.

Kara-Kae: I am so blessed.

Jim: And, uh, you are. And, uh, you know, as we close, again, we have caring Christian counselors for you to talk to. We have great resources. Get in touch with us if you need us.

John: Mmm hmm. Yeah, encouragement is a phone call away. And you can schedule a time with one of our counselors and get Kara-Kae’s book when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And, it might be possible, that despite everything going on, you are in a position to make a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today. If you can do so, we’ll say thank you by sending a copy of Mom Up to say thank you for supporting this ministry and allowing us to encourage moms and families and couples worldwide.

Jim: Kara-Kae, thanks for being with us. It’s been great.

Kara-Kae: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Jim: Aw.

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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