Mama Spotlight: Kaley

Welcome back! I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am. There have been so many nuggets of wisdom shared from all the moms I have interviewed so far. You can check out the previous interviews here.

This week, I am sharing my interview with my friend Kaley who I met as a freshman at Indiana University. Kaley may not know this, but she and her husband played a pivotal role in my life. Kaley and her husband (then boyfriend) led IU’s chapter of a campus ministry called The Impact Movement. Through my involvement with Impact, I rededicated my life to Christ, met some of closest friends and also met the man who would eventually become my husband!

Since my freshman year, I have watched Kaley become a wife and mom. I have seen her family grow and thrive. I hope you enjoy her thoughts on motherhood!


Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?

Hey! My name is Kaley Puckett. I am a domestic engineer 😉 aka stay at home mom and a personal trainer. I am a mother of 5 amazing kiddos: Ramiyah (10), Elyana (8), Isabelle (6), Nalah (4), and DJ (2).

How do you define motherhood?

This question really made me really think! I’ve been a mother now for 10 years (still can’t believe that!). My definition of motherhood has definitely evolved over the years. I have come to learn that motherhood is full of seasons with many obstacles, triumphs, and lots of problem solving. It’s exhausting, joyful and a learning process. [There are] continual opportunities to practice what you preach and laboring with only glimpses of fruit. It’s a marathon, finding a good balance between being selfless while remembering yourself. Motherhood is full of sweet, sweet moments. Motherhood is remembering what is important, that we are to nurture, love and teach these babes that we have been entrusted with.

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

I am officially out of child bearing (which was a hard transition) and in full force with child rearing! This stage had definitely been difficult trying to balance the different stages. I have a 10 year old who is full of hormones to a 2 year old who just learned to go potty and all the ages in between.

What do enjoy most about this stage?

I enjoy that I get to embark into this new territory with my older ones, while still encompassing the confidence I have with my littles. I absolutely love the baby stages and have been pretty confident with that stage since I’ve done it a couple times and worked with babies through school. Although I love the stage with the babies, I also have enjoyed having more in-depth convos with my older ones. I get to have great convos with my older ones and also have those sweet and hilarious convos with my littles. It’s like the best of both worlds!

What is most challenging about this stage?

You know what they say, your strength is also your weakness. That is how I feel about this stage. Although there are many enjoyable things about this stage I’m in, those things also can make this stage really challenging. The most challenging thing is trying to find a healthy balance between [my kids]. I find it hard to give the same attention I give to my older ones to my little ones. Which is impossible. If I’m honest, this is my biggest struggle right now, trying to love each one specifically the way they need in their unique stage and personality.

What does self-care look like for you right now?

I like how you asked this question right after what’s the most challenging part of this stage! Self-care is something I have put on the back burner far too often. I think as mothers we are told, or at least we believe, that we don’t need self-care. Self-care is something I have to continually remind myself that is vital and I need to be intentional about it everyday. What I try to do each day is wake up early to read my Bible and pray to prepare myself for the day. I also really enjoy working out to clear my head and have some space alone. I try to move my body some kind of way each day. I don’t get it in everyday, but when I do the day is noticeably better!

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

My husband and I have pulled from different people. We have watched others and learned from what has worked and also learned from their mistakes. We have definitely learned from both our parents, but I think the most influential people are our friends/mentors, Anika and CJ. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I watched them interact with their kids, love them uniquely the way they needed, discipline them, take advantage of many teaching moments, practice humility by admitting wrong, show forgiveness, and how to be goofy with their children and each other among many other things!

Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your children.

The most important thing I hope to pass to my children is the importance of a relationship with Jesus. I want them to know that they were made by an amazing God for a purpose to glorify Him in all we do.

Where do you find support as a mom?

My biggest supporter is my husband. He has been so supportive, encouraging me to step out with getting my personal training certification 8 years ago and pushing me to get out there to get my business going. He has also helped me accept help (and accept the idea that I need it!) and provided concessions to help me, like getting groceries delivered and the house cleaned. I also have found support from different moms in my church who are are in different stages and also the same stage. It’s always encouraging to know you aren’t alone and you’re not the only one experiencing the same feelings as a mom.

Can you tell me a little more about your personal training business? What motivated you to pursue personal training? How has it impacted you and your family?

I have always loved to move my body and challenge myself physically. After having my first baby I gained 50 lbs even with working out and I wanted to learn how to properly take care of my body while also caring for a little one. I got a personal trainer after my first [baby] and learned so much and started to read all I could on kinesiology. After my second baby, my husband challenged me to get certified in personal training. My husband is all about making moves and doing what you need to do to get things done. So, without asking me he just purchased the material and over the next few months I studied for the test. I am so glad he pushed me to do something for me! Personal training gives me so much life, helping others learn how to move their body and to live healthier lives.

(Check our Kaley’s Instagram page to learn more about her as a personal trainer)

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

That’s a great question! Honestly, I get lost in this sometimes thinking, “man if only I would have done this or that.” The main thing that I would tell my pre-kid self is to enjoy every moment and don’t get caught up in the momentary stresses of day to day things. I can relate my way of thinking to Martha in the Bible. She was always doing what was expected of her, completing the list of things to do for the day. But her sister, Mary, chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. Martha was perturbed that her sister wasn’t helping her and Jesus told her, “Martha you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has CHOSEN the good portion which will not be taken from her.” When I read that story it reminds me that I have the choice to CHOOSE the good portion everyday. Yes, there are times when food needs to be purchased and cooked, but there are always opportunities throughout the day to choose to be present with my kids. Being present and enjoying them is the one thing that is always necessary!

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

My advice would be to learn from what I would tell my pre-kids self! When opportunities [arise] to sit and be present with your kids choose that over dishes any day! Our kids will remember and cherish those moments above all else.

Mama Spotlight: Alyssia

Welcome back! Today, I am sharing my interview with one of my best friends. I met Alyssia when I was a sophomore in college. We’ve shared high moments and low moments. We’ve watched each other grow into wives and moms. I’ve always admired Alyssia’s wisdom and her ability to help me see the positive in almost any situation. In this interview, Alyssia shares how life is changing while raising her school aged son.


Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?

My name is Alyssia and I’m from Fort Wayne, IN. I am a registered nurse in surgical oncology. I am married with one not-so-little boy.

How do you define motherhood?

Wonderful, challenging, exhausting (physically and emotionally), but worth it, so worth every sacrifice, for which there are/will be many.

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

The school age mom. I am learning to develop a new balance, one that involves working around school and extracurricular activities. No longer can I spontaneously decide to take a day off work to enjoy a day trip or minimally packed museum day. There are no more vacations during the off-season. That loss of freedom as we incorporate school into our schedule has been a major adjustment this year.

What do enjoy most about this stage?

Getting to peak inside his brain and see glimpses of his adult self. He never ceases to amaze me with the thoughts he possesses and observations he makes. He’s so eager to be helpful and earnestly seeks reassurance and praise. We’ve quickly learned that his love language is words of affirmation. He’s also quick to pass them along, often telling us how wonderful we are or how much he loves us.

What is most challenging about this stage?

The logic battles. He is at an age where he is curious about the world and its operations. He seeks logical explanations for every decision we make. He is also learning so much outside the home that he often challenges the way we do things because he is understanding that there are different ways of living. “Why do I have to go to bed when you get to stay up?” “So and so has this or gets to do that.” “That’s not fair, you NEVER let me do what I want.” “You ALWAYS tell me no.” “But I am a big kid, why cannot I play that game?!”

How do you handle all his questions?

I typically try to answer him with an answer I would expect if I asked the question. So if he’s asking about bedtime and sleeping I tell him that he needs to get rest so he can grow. If he’s complaining about something I won’t let him do, like a game he saw a friend with that he wants, I’ll explain how it’s for a certain age. His new favorite thing is asking why he has to brush his teeth all the time. I remind him (almost daily) that it’s because we don’t want the sugar bugs (that’s what the dentist called them 2 years ago and it stuck) to eat his teeth. Sometimes when I’ve already explained it several times and he’s still unsatisfied, I tell him to go play. If I’m having a rough day, I’ll tell him Mommy is tired and ask if we can talk about it later or I tell him to go to his dad if I’m really worn thin. Usually he’s okay after the first or second explanation, but sometimes he continues to ask why and I have to resort to “that’s just the way it is.” I always hated the “because I said so” response when I was little, so I use that answer when I can’t think of any other way to answer his question in the moment, which usually results in an exasperated sigh from him.

What does self-care look like for you right now?

Reading a good book. I am an introvert working in an extremely people-oriented field. I require almost daily opportunities to decompress to avoid mental and emotional overload and burnout. Nothing helps me unwind better than a great story. A close second is a quiet shower, followed by a sunny walk.

Can you share some of the books you’ve read recently?

  • Silver Bay by JoJo Moyes
  • Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  • The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Where do you find support as a mom?

Mom friends. I believe it is so crucial to our well-being as mothers/parents to have people we can do life with. People we can vent to without judgment and condemnation. [People] who understand that we have moments of weakness and self-doubt and love us despite those moments. [Friends] who aren’t afraid to give us constructive feedback when needed, but with a gentleness that doesn’t shut us down.

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. My first undergrad degree was in elementary education, for which I had to take a class on child development. Learning how, from birth on, every experience shapes our view of ourselves and our world really resonated with me. That concept forces me to be cognizant of my responses to [my son] and how we are shaping his inner dialogue. It’s a constant reminder that children are fragile and impressionable, they are not these resilient beings society tries to convince us they are. Our actions toward them now impact their future selves in ways we cannot fully understand. I want him to grow into an emotionally intelligent man, who knows how to identify and process his emotions and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.

Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your son?

Faith and confidence. I want Quinn to know without a shadow of a doubt that his life has purpose and that he is loved. I want him to experience the faithfulness of God in ways unimaginable and to know the peace of resting in God’s promises. I want him to have confidence in his ability to do whatever he desires as long as he’s willing to work for it.

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

It’s so cliché, but it’s true…the days are long, but the years are short, so enjoy every moment. Don’t allow yourself to become so busy and preoccupied that you miss out on moments with your children. We are building memories that will last a lifetime; don’t shortchange yourself or them. There isn’t a day where I made the decision to enjoy the moment, over completing some mundane task, which I regret.

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

Be kind to yourself. There will always be times that you feel inadequate. Don’t be afraid of challenging moments. We are only human. We have faults, flaws and past traumas that we are overcoming. If you aren’t being challenged, you likely aren’t growing. Just as we extend grace and unwavering love to our children, we need to give it to ourselves.

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It’s Heavy…

Today I’m sharing part of a post I wrote in the fall of 2019 after an officer in Ft. Worth, TX shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her own home. I wrote this, but didn’t share it at the time. The scary thing is that I actually thought, “if I don’t share it now, I will probably have another opportunity later.”

That thought sickens me, but unfortunately it’s true. Just yesterday, I watched two videos of black men being murdered. Two in one day.

Sadly, the words I wrote in the early morning hours of that October day are still true, but really only scratch the surface. I still find it hard to put into words all the thoughts I’m thinking and emotions I’m feeling a result of what I continue to see.


I had a dream a few weeks ago. It scared me. It shook me. It made me realize that I’m more affected by what’s going on in our country than I thought.

The dream.

I was one of two black people at a gathering of friends. Something happened, I don’t recall what, but a police officer shows up and singles me out. He accused me of something I didn’t do and tries to get me to confess. I politely tell him I didn’t do it. He continues to pressure me. I get upset because I know am innocent. I maintain my composure, but continue trying to convince the officer he has the wrong person. The officer pulls his gun out and points it at me. My hands go up. I’m defenseless.

During this entire ordeal, others gathered at this place look on without any action. Finally, the only other black person in the room comes to my rescue. He steps between me and the gun. The officer doesn’t shoot. Somehow the situation is diffused. I wake up.

A mix of emotions rushed over me.

Fear. Anger. Anxiety. Frustration. Confusion.

What triggered a dream like that?

I can’t help but think it’s a response to the violence against black people we continue to see in this country. The images I have seen and the stories I have heard remind me that as a black person in America I’m not immune to the impact of the systemic racism that pervades this country. The stories we hear and see everyday remind me that black and brown people are not safe, even in our own homes [or while jogging]. The weight of having brown skin in America is heavy. It’s heavy.

Mama Spotlight: Jacquie

I’m so excited about this new interview series! I started A Labor For Love as a way to share my motherhood experience, but I also longed to create a space for other moms to share their stories too. The first person I am interviewing is my sister-in-law, Jacquie.

A few weeks ago, Jacquie shared 10 lessons learned from COVID-19 on her Facebook page that was truly inspiring. I had been sitting on the idea of Mama Spotlight since the end of 2019. When I read her post, something in me “clicked.” I knew it was time for me give birth to this series and that Jacquie should be the first mama I interviewed.

I’ve known Jacquie for almost 10 years now. It’s been cool to share so many life experiences during that time and I look forward to growing with her now through motherhood. I hope you enjoy my interview with Jacquie!

Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?

My name is Jacquie and I’m 30 years old (probably 31 by the time you’ve written this blog post!). I’m originally from the northwest side of Indianapolis, but I currently live in Westfield with my husband, Jared, and our son, Eli. In addition to being a wife and a mother, I am also a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Health and Wellness Coach working in the Population Health field.

How do you define motherhood?

Wow, that’s actually a tough question! I believe that mothers come in many different forms and that there are several levels of “motherhood,” so it’s hard for me to define the word in an all-encompassing way. Obviously there is motherhood in the traditional sense, where you are raising a child as a member of your household, ensuring their basic human needs are met, and loving them unconditionally. I also think there is non-familial motherhood. I’ve had several “school moms” and “work moms” who have looked out for me and helped me grow throughout my education and my career.   

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

Eli is our first child and he was born a little over 10 weeks ago. The infant stage is equal parts exhausting and rewarding!

What do enjoy most about this stage?

I love the fact that we can see Eli growing physically and mentally with each new day. Clothes that were baggy on him just a few weeks ago are starting to get tight. He’s become very curious about the world around him and he’s starting to interact a lot more with us. There have been lots of smiles, coos, and even a few giggles over the last couple of weeks. One time we could have sworn he said the word “hello!”

What is most challenging about this stage?

I think the hardest part of this stage is that Eli can’t tell us exactly how he is feeling. We’ve gotten better at distinguishing between hunger cries, tired cries, and dirty diaper cries, but there are still moments where we are left guessing! I hate to see him uncomfortable and to not know how to “fix it” right away. I’ve also had a very rough time with breastfeeding, but I’m hoping to stick with it until he is 6 months old. I think society puts a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed and sometimes it just doesn’t work out! At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you and your baby.

What does self-care look like for you right now?

I’m an introvert at heart, so my idea of self-care is anything that allows me to unplug from the rest of the world and clear my mind. It’s tough with an infant, but I love nothing more than a nice long shower! I also like to throw on some music and cook a good meal or go for a walk.

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

Since I’m pretty new to motherhood, I’m not quite sure what my parenting style will look like. I think Jared and I aspire to be like our parents. They’ve shown us the perfect example of what it means to love unconditionally, and they’ve always put the needs of their children ahead of their own. We hope to do the same for Eli.

Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).

I actually wrote down a list of hopes for my son when I was pregnant and posted them on Instagram. One of them was that he would have a loving heart that would allow him to see the dignity in every person he meets. I think Jared and I are both very open-minded and accepting of people from all walks of life. I hope Eli will see the world through the same lens.

Where do you find support as a mom?

My husband has been my greatest source of support during this transition into motherhood. During the first few weeks of Eli’s life, there were nights when I was in tears from exhaustion and self-doubt. Jared would stay up with me to help and to reassure me that things will get better. I’ve also found a lot of comfort in talking with other moms. I call my mom at least once a day, sometimes more. I’ve also reconnected with friends who have had kids recently to talk about postpartum life. Many of them reached out after Eli was born to check-in on me. I was so appreciative of this.  It’s hard when everyone is so excited about your new baby that they forget to ask how you’re doing. 

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

To value your sleep and quiet nights! I have never been more tired in my life. Haha. I also would tell my pre-kid self to be more appreciative of my mother and all the work she put into raising me.  

Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

My biggest piece of advice is not to compare yourself to other moms. I’m guilty of doing this from time to time and nothing good can come from it! I saw a post from Taking Cara Babies a few weeks ago that said, “There’s no better mama on the planet for that baby than you!” That’s the motto I’m trying to live by from here on out!

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New Series: Mama Spotlight

Next month, I’m starting a new series called Mama Spotlight that will feature interviews with women in every stage of motherhood.

I started this blog as a way to share my motherhood experience, but I also long to create a space for other moms to share their stories too.

Whether staying at home, working a corporate job, building a business, or still figuring life out, every mom has a unique story and her own perspective on one of her most important roles, being a mom.

I have some great interviews lined up with women that inspire me. I know you will be inspired too!