“Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration”
We all have a story to tell. And I love to learn from other people’s stories. I’m choosing women to interview who inspire me to show up and create and live a better life story.
Whenever I read the comments on her Instagram feed or Facebook, I almost always see comments that say “I love your life”, “I’m so jealous”, “You always have so much fun”, “You’re such a good mom”, and on and on and on.
The truth is, Kamie (and we’ll give her husband Clarke a little credit too) is one of the most intentional mothers I know. She works hard to DO things. To make things happen. Instead of just talking about doing things, she actually does them. She is the queen of travel and is always out doing things with her family. It makes me want to DO more with my kids and with my life.
Some of her answers actually made me tear up a little. I’m lucky to call Kamie my friend.
1. Give me a quick peek at your story.
Born and raised in Salt Lake. I’m the 3rd of 5. College at Snow, Dixie, and BYU. Met and married Clarke right before senior year. Lived in Michigan for a year and I taught Kindergarten at a low-income school. Moved to Utah and I taught another year of Kindergarten in Eagle Mountain. Moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico (teeny tiny town) and had my first daughter, Mariko, in 2003. Moved back to Utah. Had more babies (Kaia, 2007. Beckett, 2009. Parker, 2013). Currently working hard to perfect that whole MOM thing.
I feel like this is one of the great bonuses about being a stay-at-home mom. I am living every minute with my kids. I’m the first person they see when they wake up. I’m the first person they see when they walk out of school. And I’m the last person they give a hug to before they fall asleep. There are many, many messy, frustrating, exhausting moments that I’d like to erase. But there are also so many sweet “every day moments” that I’m so lucky to be a part of. Sometimes when all my kids are eating breakfast, sleep still written on their faces, it’s quiet for a second and I get this burst of love and gratitude that I HAVE PEOPLE TO MAKE BREAKFAST FOR. People who need me and love me. Or when my 10 year old is practicing a talk she has to give in piano about her flute. I listen to her voice, watch her face, and just can’t believe my good fortune that she’s mine. Or when my 6 year old sits in the front seat on the way to Kindergarten and says (missing her 4 front teeth, which makes her irresistible), “Mom, lets talk about stuff. I like talking to you.” Or when my 4 year old tells me a joke which makes no sense in the slightest, but his twinkle in his eyes and his baby teeth grin suddenly makes the joke funny. Or when my 8 month old snuggles into me after a bath, working his binkie, I can just sit and stare at all those little features and smell that baby smell and drift into 7th heaven. There are moments all day long like this–if we just take the time to take it in.
Right now in this season of life, I am completely devoted to my kids. Sometimes I feel guilty and sad about not being able to shower my husband with attention, or not being able to visit my grandma more often, or not being able to take my sisters to lunch, or not being able to use the education I have (I mean, changing diapers and driving the kids a million places isn’t using the parts of my brain that I SWEAR I have). The thing with life is–you can’t do it all. It’s impossible. So right now, my 4 young people are demanding almost all my attention. And that’s ok. My mom once told me, “you know, you can never go back and re-raise your kids. Take the few short years you can and build the best people you can.” So I would say that I have lots of “life ambitions”–meaning, lots of things I want to see, do, and accomplish. But they are taking a back seat right now. And I’m good with that.
Hmm. I guess I feel the most passionate about what the title “MOM” means–in this pocket of life I’m in now. And about how important that is. And how a lot of moms feel failure too much and are way too hard on themselves. How we compare ourselves to others too much. How sometimes we feel “fine” but we’re not really “fine” sometimes. And that’s ok. How we should forget how “busy” we are sometimes and enjoy those crazy nut jobs we call kids. The “MOM” title is somewhat brutal–but such a gift!
I feel like the two people who have influenced me most are my mom and my husband. My mom had 5 kids and I had the best, happiest, easiest childhood. I now know that something like that took A TON OF WORK AND SACRIFICE on her part. And she continues to be my listening ear and the best advice-giver. I really am not sure how I landed such an awesome husband, but somehow I did. In our marriage ceremony, the officiator told us that many angels were assisting in our meeting each other. I don’t doubt it. He is the most positive, happiest person I know. Incredibly giving, has a true heart of gold. He has a million friends–people are magnetized to him after they meet him. I feel like in the 14 years I’ve known him, he teaches me things indirectly. He DEFINITELY makes me a better person, just being around him.
Hmm, interesting. One thing that pops into my head is my first year of college at Snow. I walked into some bad friend and boy situations–and I’d drive home every weekend crying and begging my parents to let me quit and come home. And they hugged me and sent me back on my way every Sunday. That year was super tough. I remember as the year was coming to an end, I thought to myself, “I DID IT. I can do hard things. I can be MY OWN PERSON. I am good enough.” I grew emotionally by leaps and bounds that year. I realized that if someone destructive is in your life, they shouldn’t be. I look back and know for sure that, as terrible as that year was, it made me more of who I am today.
A lot! To me, the best thing in life is relationships. Nothing else really matters that much. So I feel like it’s a work in progress. I want to be a better wife. Spend more time being selfless and coming up with ways to make my husbands life better. I want to be a better mother–get distracted less and be “busy” less and enjoy more. I want to be a better sister. I have 4 siblings, all with spouses–and I know for sure that I could be closer to each of them. I want to be a better daughter. I still feel like I’m “taking” way more than I’m “giving” with them. Career-wise, I’d love to go back to influencing kids.
Um, none! Ha! I was a big time nerd most of my teenage years–tall and awkward, braces, glasses. I cringe every time I see myself. But I will say–we found an old VHS tape the other day at my parents house from 1993 (I was 14). It was Christmas, Easter, a Florida vacation–the usual things you’d videotape. But it was fascinating. My kids and husband watched for a bit and laughed, but I was glued to the screen. Seeing my parents looking so young, watching how we interacted as siblings. Seeing my grandpa (who passed away in 2004). It felt like it was yesterday–crazy.
I’m proud of all the people around me, that’s for sure. I’m proud of how hard Clarke works and how good he is at what he does. I’m proud of my kids all the time. I’m proud of my parents–watching them close to retirement and seeing them enjoy each other for so many years. But of myself? That’s harder to see. I’m proud of my college education. The testimony I have. The decisions I’ve made. I’m proud of myself sometimes when I crawl into bed at night after a long hard day–that my kids are all still alive and everyone got fed and everyone had clean clothes and everyone got (mostly) listened to and hugged and loved.
There is a talk by Jeffrey R Holland that really hits home every time I read it or hear it. It’s a story about himself as a young dad, poor and struggling, and his car breaks down. He has to leave his wife and kids to find help. He is incredibly discouraged. He imagines himself standing there next to his younger self. “I couldn’t help calling out to him: DON’T YOU QUIT. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, THEY COME. It will be all right in the end. TRUST GOD and believe in good things to come.” Parenting is hard. Crazy crazy hard. Most of the time I’m not sure I’m doing enough, or even doing it right. When I get frustrated, I always think of this. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying.
Here’s something I’m sure of. Satan wants us to fail. The article “When Satan Steals Your Motherhood” is a perfect read. She talks about Satan admiring you when you lose your patience, when you compare yourself to others and think you’re sub-par, when you tune the world out and ignore life around you. I get feelings all the time about being a stay-at-home mom. Like, I should really be out using my brain and earning lots of money and doing something “worthwhile”. Hmm–do you think Satan has anything to do with those thoughts? That’s something I know for sure. Satan gets real scared when we are teaching our kids how to be kind to others, how to try your best, how to repent and try again.
Hmm. I’ve read so many good books and heard so many amazing things. Right now, we’re making a BIG CHANGE and moving out of state. That’s what is occupying my mind. I’m scared shitless. But excited at the same time. Glennon Doyle Melton wrote an amazing book called “Carry on Warrior” (thanks Linds)–and this thought keeps coming back to me. There’s a part in the book where she talks about sending her kids off to school. And about how to be brave and be kind to others and not be worried about fitting in. She says “BRAVE is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision.” I’m worried about watching my kids do hard things, like move away from grandmas and grandpas and cousins who they adore. Going to a brand new school and not knowing a soul. Having new coaches and new teammates and new church friends. But I’m worried about myself, too. Brave is a decision.
It’s funny comparing myself to other people. Clarke and I are alike in a lot of ways–both pretty easy going, both like to do the same things. But we are different too–he’s a social butterfly and he’s very aware of how to make people comfortable and happy. He’s just a fun person. I’m quite the opposite–I’m more of a social recluse, and I’m definitely more quiet in a social setting. I’d much rather have a one-on-one date and he’s always trying to invite people 🙂 But the funny thing is, as much as I admire those qualities in Clarke, I appreciate that I am how I am. Of course, being married to him has forced me to do things I would never do if I was married to someone like me. So that’s good. But (especially the older I get) I am comfortable in my own skin. If I could tell my 16 year old self anything, it would be to not be so worried about what other people are doing, saying, whatever. Now that I’m in my mid-thirties (yikes) I feel pretty good about knowing who I am. When I taught the 16 year old girls in church, one of the moms came up to me after I was released and told me that her daughter admired me–“she doesn’t care if she’s sitting with her friends or sitting all by herself. She just does what she does and she’s so confident all the time.” This took me off guard because I wouldn’t consider one of my strongest points to be confidence–but I compare less and less the older I get. I am who I am.
I feel pretty good about taking pictures–I take a lot of pictures on my phone, and every once in a while take some with the nice camera for good quality. I blog and keep up with it. I’m good with baby books. I make sure we get a family picture done once a year. I get newborn photos done. My computer crashed in 2010–luckily I retrieved all the photos I had on it (from 2003 on) but they are all jumbled and unorganized. From 2010 on, my photos are all backed up and organized. I need to hire an expert to come get it all together…
As far as childhood pictures, my parents did ok–holidays, vacations, birthdays, special events. Every now and then there’s a funny picture of me getting my hair done by my older sister at age 3, or me holding a Grover doll by the neck and eating yogurt. Wish there were more “every day” pictures for sure.
Fake it. Seriously. If I’m nervous about teaching relief society, I fake it and act like I’ve got it all together and I know every answer to every question. If I’m scared of putting an offer in on a house FAR away from the home I know, I fake it and pull the “this house is going to be so fun” line. I figure the more I fake it, the more I realize that it wasn’t scary after all.
17. What is your favorite part about being a mom? Your least favorite part (just keepin it real on this question–I know you love your kids)?
Favorite–so many things. After I had my first, I wasn’t getting pregnant and I was so afraid that I’d only have one. After my faith was tried, I got another one. I remember praying so earnestly, with my whole heart, telling the Lord if He’d just send me one more, I’d be happy as a clam and would never ask for anything again. ha ha. I just wanted “KIDS” so bad and I felt so sad thinking that I’d have one child to mother. A friend of mine who adopted two kids told me, “I’m just so happy that I have messes to clean up!” So that’s my favorite thing about being a mom–I’m blessed with FOUR beautiful kids and feel so lucky.
Least favorite–of course there’s lots of things that somewhat suck. Probably my least favorite thing is two-fold: not taking care of myself (because I simply don’t have the time to myself) and that usually, the responsible stuff falls on me. Dad gets to come home at night and be “party dad”–and mom is still nagging them about chores, homework, piano practicing, showering, blah blah blah. Gets old sometimes.
I tried to tell my 16 year old class this, and I’m starting to tell my older girls this. That it really doesn’t matter if you’re considered “popular”. Or if you’re invited to the “cool parties”. Or that you have 2 friends instead of 100. What matters is how you treat people. If you make good decisions. If you’re smart. If you’re obedient. After junior high or high school, no one cares anymore. That stuff falls away. (Yes, adults still have to deal with “not being included” sometimes but it doesn’t matter, really.) It’s like the classic story of the homecoming queen being fat and poor and unhappy, and the ugly geek handsome and rich as can be. I think everybody has to kind of learn this on their own. But I’ll still tell my kids this over. And over. And over 🙂
And for fun:
Favorite family tradition: I’m a Christmas fanatic so everything around that holiday is like a dream.
Something you enjoy doing with your spouse: traveling. For sure. And as much fun as family vacations are, we like adult vacations just as much 🙂
Talent you wish you had: Sports. ANY sport. Never did anything as a kid. And I’m super uncoordinated. I’m jealous of people who are good at a sport.
Favorite meal: Anything I’m eating on a date night. No rush. No spills. No helping someone else. Fabulous.
If you never had to do one specific thing again, what would it be: I could care less if I never skied ever again. Not a fan. Cold. And I fall. A lot.
Favorite show on TV: Hmm. Back in the day it was Friday Night Lights. I think that was the ultimate for me.
Something that scares you: Not a fan of heights. Roller coasters are fine as long as I’m strapped down. Hmm. Maybe that’s part of skiing hate–the ski lift. I feel like I could slip right out to my death. And I can’t stand close to a balcony edge.
Favorite thing about your husband: This is tough. He’s fun. He’s ambitious. He’s talented. He’s sweet. He’s an amazing Dad. I could go on…
Something you can’t live without: I’ll say this just because I’m “dieting”. I refuse to go without cookie dough every now and then. Or movie popcorn. So suck it, diet.
What’s something you think about often: Great question. I find myself thinking about people on the other side of the veil–if they watch me and help me along the way sometimes. Clarke’s mom died when Kaia was a baby and I think about her and the good work she did. Or maybe even future grand kids know me and can see whats going on? Would be interesting to know how it all works
THANK YOU, Kamie!!
To Read previous “Real Life Stories–Women of Inspiration” interviews, CLICK HERE.