Sis, Take a Breath: Kirsten & Benjamin Watson
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Kirsten And Benjamin WatsonKirsten Watson is a mom of seven and wife of author and retired NFL player Benjamin Watson. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a marketing and Spanish degree, Kirsten worked for a Fortune 500 company and then in the nonprofit sector, aspiring to one day run her own company. Now she’s CEO of a family of nine and the executive editor of MomLife Today. With Benjamin, she founded the One More foundation and together they cohost Why or Why Not with the Watsons. Learn more at thewa...more
Mom of 7, wife of an NFL athlete, and podcaster Kirsten Watson is asked, “How do you do it?” She believes to take a breath of God’s Word is to exhale peace.
Sis, Take a Breath: Kirsten & Benjamin Watson
Dave: When our kids were little—and you were a mom with toddlers, and snot, and potty training, and even training our puppy [Laughter]—I mean, were you just exhausted all the time?
Ann: I was exhausted.
Dave: You were exhausted, and you usually were mad at me.
Ann: I was also mad. Yes, I was feeling like: “This is all your fault!” “Where's my husband? Why isn't he here?”
Dave: Somehow, I did get blamed a lot.
Ann: Totally got blamed.
Dave: And most of the time, it was my fault; but— [Laughter]
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
It wasn't your fault. I think part of that is—just being a mom—is trying to juggle everything; and we worry/we go through things. I think what's always been helpful for me is: one, God's Word—like that is my rock; it's my foundation—it’s where I find my hope.
Dave: You get to read that in the bathroom when you lock the kids outside. [Laughter]
Ann: No, that's—
Dave: —for three minutes.
Ann: I had Bibles—
Dave: And they’re banging on the door while you’re doing it.
Ann: I had Bibles everywhere—in my car, by the sink, by the table—because it's like I'd have to get those times in.
But I also was always encouraged when there was a good book out that would encourage my heart. We're going to talk about that good book today; because we have Kirsten Watson with us today, who's a great friend; and she's written a great book. Kirsten, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Kirsten: Thank you for having me; I'm excited to talk to you guys.
Dave: I heard you laughing over there as we're talking about young moms. [Laughter]
Kirsten: I love hearing y'all talk and just telling your story. I'm laughing all the time. [Laughter]
Ann: And Kirsten is married to Benjamin Watson, who was in the NFL.
Dave: Ah, we don't care about her husband; Kirsten’s the star!
Ann: I just—I know/we know—she is the star.
Dave: She's got this NFL guy, who's her husband; but she’s—
Ann: Who cares about him? We're talking to her. [Laughter] They have seven children—and the title of your book is so perfect—Sis, Take a Breath: Encouragement for the Woman Who's Trying to Live and Love Well (but Secretly Just Wants to Take a Nap).
Kirsten: It was how I was feeling that day; I was like, “This is what it needs to be, because I just want to lay down somewhere if I could.” [Laughter]
Ann: Let's start here—because we're going to talk about parenting—but let's start here: you have seven kids. Who has time to have a good marriage? You barely have time to do anything yourself; how do you make marriage a priority?—because you talk about that; that's important to you.
Kirsten: We listen to you all—that was the main thing [Laughter]—you had to find someone to listen to. There's/sometimes, you're listening to the wrong people.
It was always repeated to us, early on in our marriage: “God is a God of order, and that's for a reason. You can follow His order, or you can do what's best for you. But don't be complaining, when you're in chaos, because you haven't followed the directions.” It has always been said to us: “Your relationship with the Lord, first and foremost. A far second/far, far second is your relationship with your husband; and then, the relationship with your kids and family.”
We have done our best, not perfectly, but we have been intentional as we can be to make sure that our marriage comes first before our children. Not saying like—you know I don't feed the kids; I feed Benjamin first—not like that; but it's just like making sure we take time with each other, and that has been the secret sauce. When things have/are chaotic, it's generally because we get/we've gotten stuff out of order—either I haven't spent time in the Word, and Benjamin and I are at odds—it's just the reality of things.
In order for us to be best prepared to parent, we have to be most prepared in our marriage. I think that it was told to us so much before we had kids; then, as we had kids, we had to keep hearing it, and then we just did our best to keep doing. We still, right now, we're like, we need to find a babysitter so we can go out to dinner without these people. [Laughter] Like, I don't want to cut up anyone else's food. I love you, Benjamin; but I'm not cutting your food up. And go somewhere, where we can just be adults.
And so even when we—there's been times, where we don't have someone physically to watch our children—it's still our talk, and our desire, and our prayer is that someone would come so that we can go spend some time together. I think that has been how our parenting has been made a little bit easier—not easy—easier, because we do try to focus on our marriage.
Ann: So even, do you guys try to catch up during the week? Even as you are home, do you kind of catch up a little bit when all these people are screaming your name constantly?
Kirsten: Yes, it's awful; it is so awful—like I just try to finish a sentence; and then, I forget—I'm like, “I'll talk to you tonight,” which is why we do an early bedtime. People think we're crazy—that we have middle schoolers, who have to be in bed—they just have to be in their room. “I don't care what you're doing, but do not come out. If you're bleeding, or like a part of your body has fallen off, is the only reason to knock on my door.”
We do that so that we can adult—I can actually get a full thought out of my brain to my mouth and have a conversation before I fall asleep, because I'm exhausted—you have a good 30 minutes to get everything out in your green; I think that's what we do.
We try to dedicate time throughout the day—and then, whether it's us reading the Bible together; meaning that we are reading the same passage and not literally holding hands, reading together—that would be awesome—but like we can have conversations about: “Hey, did you read what happened in Luke?” “Yes, I thought that was all—did you read that before?”; and then, that's the conversation—it's in passing, but we're doing something together—but not literally, like reading it, word for word, together. We try to find these ways to still connect, even though it's really challenging.
Ann: And then you just said, like, “You know, I'm in the Word.” I think our listeners are like: “You have seven kids; how do you do that?” Because even for me, Kirsten, before I had kids, I'd get this nice little chunk of time with God: I'm in the Word; I'm praying. Then, I'm like, “I can't sit down unless I'm up at 4:30.” How do you do that?
Kirsten: [Laughter] Well, it's a little—I will say that I/this is what I always say: “There are seasons.” I'm in a season now, where five of my kids go to school; and two of them—we've just found a babysitter—so two of them are being watched for a couple hours in the morning. My time looks very different from when I had four: four and a half and under. And literally, I can remember vividly saying, “Lord, you're going to have to speak to me through VeggieTales.[Laughter] Bob and Larry are going to have to give me a word, because I just/I can't stay awake long enough to read. I can't; I don't have time to read.” I remember it was an older mom who told me that—they're like—"Kirsten, it's not going to be forever. It's just for a little bit.”
I'll tell another story. I'm listening to VeggieTales, getting my word, and Benjamin would call me, like, “Yes, do you know what I was reading in Mark in the hot tub today?” [Laughter] I'm like, “Oh, in the hot tub, you're reading through Mark. That's great. I'm so happy. Do you know what I'm doing?” I—you know, whatever—and I was just so bitter.
Kirsten: He was getting the Word in the hot tub, and I was listening to a cucumber; it just didn't seem fair. [Laughter]
Dave: Let me ask: “How you moms deal with that?”—because that is a common—
Ann: Oh, bitterness.
Dave: —frustration. [Laughter] Yes; I mean, you did it with me.
Ann: Oh, yes.
Dave: I'm at work; and she thinks my day is just, you know, I'm sitting by the beach with an iced tea, you know. I'm working hard—it's not easy—but I come home, and it would be the comparison game, like, “I guarantee you my day is harder than your day.”
Ann: I never said that, but I thought it all the time. “Wait,”—I would say things like this—“Wait; you had lunch?”
Kirsten: Exactly! “…with people?”
Ann: Yes; “And you actually talked without any interruption, and you didn't eat the crust off somebody’s sandwich? Well, what is that like?”
Kirsten: I remember being in Baltimore, and we had five kids. I was washing dishes because it was—I was also home schooling—and I just remember hearing or feeling, like, “This is not going to be wasted.” That was a surrender moment, where I had to say, “Am I going to believe this? Am I going to believe that everything that I thought I was made for”—and this was years into our marriage; I mean, we're talking our fifth kid—"God was still saying, ‘You are holding onto this bitterness of what you think you should be doing, and you don't believe that I'm going to use everything you're doing right now for something that may blow your mind.’”
I had to surrender all of that—like all of those ideas of: “He gets to do that,”—I had to see that what he was experiencing every day, the comparison and the all the things, that I wouldn't want that in a million years. “Thank goodness he got a time in the hot tub that he could go and meet with You, God, because I don't even know how he deals with that—definitely, not physically—but how he's dealing with that mentally and spiritually,” and “Lord…” My praise became, like, “Thank goodness he can meet with You.” It just switched how I was looking at it, and that made all the difference.
Ann: Isn't that sweet how God will speak to us or nudge us through the power of His Word and this power of His Spirit living in us? I can remember that same thing of this conviction—I was in this stage of just grumbling and complaining in my head—and I remember God saying, “Ann, why don't you spend this time praying rather than grumbling and complaining about your husband?” And it really—
Dave: Amen. [Laughter] I like that.
Ann: —but it grabbed my attention, because I/we use our thoughts and our minds; and we just go places, and that becomes a habit. I'm glad that the power of God's Word can speak to us in any way. I love that He was speaking to you through VeggieTales; that's the best.
Kirsten: —all the time.
Dave: He always spoke to me: [singing] “God is bigger than the boogie man.” There are so many great truths.
I’ve got to ask you this; because one of the things you wrote about, Kirsten, I've heard Ann with the same frustration—and that was being a mom, feeling like: “I've lost my identity of who I am,”—you write in your book: “It felt like motherhood: this job is so beneath me.”
Dave: I've heard Ann say the same things when our boys were little. How do you wrestle with that feeling, as a mom?
Kirsten: How do I wrestle? Yes, there was definitely moments, where I was like, “I have a degree. [Laughter] What am I doing?” It's like the Bible tells you not to be in/like of the world, you have to live in the world. It’s like I had just totally drunk the lemonade of like: “I deserve better, because of this…” It was totally opposite of what God tells me who I am. You have to realize, even as I was working in corporate America, they clearly got over the fact that I left. [Laughter] They clearly got another person, who was able to do my job. It's like I had to realize I was replaceable.
There are areas in my/that God has given to me, where I am not replaceable. I am clearly a mom, and I am not replaceable in this role; and so, “Lord, You've got to give me what I need; because right now, I'm feeling super inadequate.” And that's the thing—that with the motherhood versus working in a job—I was getting reviews; I was getting bonuses. I was always getting feedback on how I was performing.
When you're a mom, all the feedback is negative—they don't like what you make [Laughter]—nothing is positive. No one's patting you on the back, like, “Hey Mom, that was great”; you know? “I love doing that lesson in math today. I'm so sorry I had an attitude.” Like nothing/none of that is happening, and so you just feel like you're failing and that you're not doing it right. And then, everyone has an opinion. It was like I'd just rather do what felt easier and getting approval from somewhere else than trying to get the approval of the people I live with.
And so the wrestling just happens; I think it continues to happen now, where I'm like, “Am I doing this right?” Like you're just praying that, like, “Lord, give me the wisdom I need to make the best decisions that I can.” That's the honest conversation I have with my kids, like: “Guys, I've never done this. I've never parented a 13-year-old. I could be doing this all wrong, but just you have to trust I'm giving you my best. I am like going to the Lord, and I'm trying to use the wisdom that He's giving me; and if I'm wrong, 15 years from now, I will apologize, and apologize, and apologize; but just trust me that I'm not trying to make your life miserable.” [Laughter]
Ann: We live in a harder day/you are living in a harder time—because there's this constant comparison on social media—we're wondering if we're doing it right. I can remember thinking/going to one of my friend's house—a pastor's wife—and I remember watching her. She had these Legos® on the [floor], and her house was all clean and neat. She had three little girls, and they were building these towers with the Legos. Our boys come in; they knock everything down—you know that—they crash the Lego tower; and then, they get something else out. And I think, “Oh, you know what? She's such a better mom than I am.”
Now, women have like every single second of the day they can be scrolling through, thinking like, “Oh, I'm not enough. I don't have what it takes.” How have you dealt with that, Kirsten?—of just like: “No, I am the one who is responsible; and God's given me what I need for my kids,”—how do you do that?
Kirsten: I watch what I look at, for one; I have to know my personality; and I have to know when to cut it off and when not/what not to follow and know what to follow. I always say: “When you see someone's highlight reel all the time, it's very hard to think about your life reel in a realistic way.” I just have to be mindful of what I let my eyes in, and I have to just run my race.
I've also learned that—especially, being through the/in the NFL, and being around people whose lives are in the spotlight—but then, actually, really being able to do life with them, you just never know someone's complete story. You don't know what's happening in the walls of people's homes, and in their hearts, and their struggles; because that's not what we show.
Because of our time in the NFL, I'm able to look at someone, and say, “Lord, is this really what's going on?”—like: “Is this really…”—you know, like there might be a reason why I should be praying for someone if they're only putting something out. There may be something underneath that, maybe not; but I just try my best to understand that what we see is not necessarily always what's going on. That helps with what I post and don't post.
If anyone follows me, you realize I really don't post a lot; because I think, too many times, people are looking for something to either validate what they're doing or to make/it makes them feel bad about what they're doing. I never want to be anyone's comparison; because I'm just trying to figure this out, just like everybody else.
Dave: How about: you write about dark-alley friends?
Ann: Yes, I love that chapter: Sisters, Who Are Your Dark-Alley Friends.”
Dave: I know for guys—and husbands and dads—we need guys in our life; but how about moms, and wives, and women?
Ann: Talk about your move to New Orleans and meeting people, who became your lifelong friends.
Kirsten: Well, first of all, I was always the new girl because Benjamin—we would move to a new city, and so he kind of had like a built-in friendship—not friendship—but like, at least, acquaintances/people that he would see. Then we would be moving to a new house, new neighborhood, new doctor; like I would just not know anyone. I was the new person a lot more than I would have liked.
But then, looking back on it, I see that God sent people—one/two girls in many of the places that we went—He sent me friends for that season; and then, friends who have been/will be, hopefully, lifelong friends.
The idea around dark-alley friends are for mom—it's like the girls, who see you without your makeup; the girls who you don't clean up before they walk through the door; the girls, who it's like there's no pretense/there's no mask—"This is just how I feel today,” “Here's what's going on: you know, I don't like my husband”; but there's no judgment. But they know you're going to—you love him—it's all those people that you can do life with.
I think, for many of us, we don't have those friends—because we’re either secretly comparing ourselves to them; we're jealous of their kids acting so nice and ours being little not nice [Laughter]—I think it's really hard, sometimes, for us to make friends and to really be able to do life.
A move to New Orleans; and it's just like/I just realized that God had brought friends in my life that are now my dark-alley friends in New Orleans. He gave me more dark-alley friends—it's not a lot—but it's just women that I know God sent. These are the women who I do life with. When something good happens, like we are all genuinely happy—like for real deal, no jealousy—"I am so happy for you,”—celebrating like we-gave-birth-to-you happy. [Laughter]
And then—when things are bad, or things are tough, or like things are going on in the marriage—we're like: “Okay, we want to hate him with you; but we're going to remind you that you chose him,”—and that—“We're not going to go burn your house down; but we are going to be there, and be angry with you; but we still love.” It's just that this different kind of community that I think that the body of Christ is supposed to have—we're called to mourn and rejoice—that only happens when we are able to put ourselves in the position to be vulnerable and real. I think that draws people into letting their masks down. I think that's when the true community starts.
For me, it makes me smile every time someone says “dark-alley friends,” referring to the book—or if I think about my girls—like I can do nothing but smile—these are not girls that I was with in elementary school; these are girls that I've known for years.
Ann: And they don't necessarily live close to you.
Kirsten: They don't live close to me at all; like none of them live in the same state that I live in. We can pick up like it never/like we never left.
And you know, I'm praying for friends that are here, like close to me. I think there's something about doing life with someone; we just never had that opportunity, because of the NFL. But you know, I know the Lord is putting/has always put people in a place for me to meet and, sometimes, me having the eyes to see and hear. But I think that makes all the difference when we do the thing called life, because it's not easy; it's not easy, and you just need someone to do it with.
Shelby: You're listening to FamilyLife Today with Dave and Ann Wilson and their guest, Kirsten Watson. Kirsten's written a book called Sis, Take a Breath: Encouragement for the Woman Who's Trying to Live and Love Well (but Secretly Just Wants to Take a Nap). You can get a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 800-358-6329; that's 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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Ann: I remember: every year, I would start a Bible study with these new Lions wives. I can't tell you how depressed some of them were to come to Detroit, especially those from the South, like, “Where am I right now?” [Laughter] You know, they knew no one; their family is not there; their husband is at practice and work every day. I remember saying every year, like, “Can you believe that God brought you here?” They're like, “No, we cannot believe it.” [Laughter] And I said, “But He's not a God that makes mistakes; there's something for you here. There's someone for you here. And we all, in this group, we need the full you,”—like—“We need you; we want you.”
Ann: And I think, Kirsten—what I've seen is—after a while, when you start moving a lot, it's hard to do that. You know, you just like/sometimes, you think, “I don't want to go through the work of trying to do that again.” It's hard—whatever we do—it's hard to be vulnerable/to expose our pain. But I think those friends—I love “the dark-alley friends”—for me, I don't think I could do it without those friends. I need Jesus, and I need my friends; I need the Word, and that makes me a better wife, and it makes me a better mom.
Kirsten: —100 percent; I agree.
Ann: As we close. I'm wondering, “Could you just pray for moms/for women, who are like: “Oh, I need somebody to pray for me today.” Will you do that for us to close us?
Kirsten: I'd be honored.
Kirsten: I'll try to keep it short; because you tell me to pray, and I'm just like so much stuff will come to me.
Dave: Come on, sis; just take a breath; just take a breath. I've heard that somewhere. [Laughter]
Oh, Lord, I am so grateful for the opportunity just to come before You; what an incredible opportunity. And Lord, today, we just pray for those moms/those women, who are listening, who just need a breath. Lord, I just pray that they would realize that there's no magic pill—there's nothing that we can do to make our life easy—but Lord, You give us the power to walk in purpose, and You can help change our perspective on what we have ahead. Lord, I pray that, in the breath, Lord, we can breathe You in through Your Word—however that comes to us, Lord—and we would breathe out and exhale peace, knowing that You are with us and that we are not alone.
So Lord, I encourage that woman today—that no matter how hard the situation/the trial, or maybe how awesome the victory is right now—that You are in all of it; and we are not alone, Lord. So let us feel You like we've never felt, and see You, and hear You so that we do know what to do next, Lord. Because a lot of times, we are just/we're just moving the best that we know how, Lord. I pray that You would come in and that You would help guide us in our everyday things, that we would see You and hear You in those as well, Lord.
I thank You for Your Son. I thank You for the Spirit that gives us power to remember who He is and who You are, Lord. And I just pray for all of these women, under the sound of my voice, that they would walk encouraged, knowing that they're not alone: that You are with them and that they are loved because You created them. And we ask these things in Your name; amen.
Shelby: Tomorrow on FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson are joined by Bob Lepine to talk about how examining small issues in marriage could actually be the key to uncovering deeper problems; that's tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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