After writing for teenage girls and for parents, in her fourth book author Kari Kampakis focuses her attention on mothers. More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family )Thrive (Thomas Nelson, 2022) is written for overextended moms who realize that all their busyness hurts their families (and themselves), but they aren’t quite sure how to go about making changes. Offering ten healthy practices for moms to consider, Kampakis is a gentle and practical guide to moms who want to rearrange their priorities and enjoy their families more.
As a mom of four teenage girls, Kampakis has been a mother for nearly twenty years, and her experience shows. She’s a natural encourager, and she understands both what moms need to hear and where they can find help for their weary souls. That’s why she starts with the premise: “A Mother Needs to Feel Valued.” Tired moms of littles often lament the unglamourous work of changing diapers and scrubbing crayon off the walls, but they still enjoy the hugs and snuggles that come with this season; moms of teenagers can go weeks without much in the way of real affection or even positive feedback from their hormonal kids. Moms of every age find their deepest value in God’s love: “You are a gift, and though some people won’t treat you as a gift, they can’t change God’s mind. He knows the truth—that your value is rooted in Him…” (15).
From this starting point, Kampakis moves into other helpful insights. In her chapter about stress and anxiety, she urges us to move away from “mall mentality,” that place where listening other people’s angst can cause us to question what we know to be true about God, ourselves, and the way we parent our families. Given the cultural battles we face as Christians in a post-Christian society, Kampakis remind us we persevere in the truth, which is “not a thing, but a person: Jesus. In a world that has lost its way. Where we often feel stressed and anxious because we don’t know who to trust or what to believe, we have wisdom that has stood the test of time, truth that elevates what is real” (73).
One of my favorite chapters concerns the role of good friends in a mother’s life. Like Kampakis, I have found my mom friends to be essential encouragement and support, but it’s easy to put these friendships on the shelf when I am overly busy. Examining the forces that frustrate friendships, she makes the thoughtful observation that “technology makes us efficient and lazy… Rather than catch up over coffee, we scroll through social media. We have gained the ability to function remotely yet lost the art of face-to-face interaction,” which has certainly worsened in the aftershocks of the pandemic (52). She urges us to fight for our friendships by making them a priority, and assures us that our children will benefit from happier, healthier, wiser moms when we do.
Each of the ten chapters concludes with reflection questions (good for group study) and a personal story from a mother testifying to God’s truth at work in her family. Kampakis ends with encouragement to “live in hope“ because Good Friday was followed by Easter; that is the pattern of the Christian life, even when we cannot see the Easter sunrise yet. Acknowledging that being hopeful can feel scary, foolish, or even impossible when our circumstances are dire, she urges us to keep our eyes on Jesus and live confidently in the hope of heaven.
No matter the ages and stages of your children, you will find the practical encouragement and biblical wisdom in More Than a Mom to be a balm for your weary maternal soul.