April Clark is a stay-at-home mom, wife, and full-time college student. She and her husband, Chris, have four children: Lily-Marie (15), Autumn (11), Deacan (6), and Raelin (4).
WP: You recently quit your job and started going back to school full-time to be a bookkeeper. How has that changed your parenting?
AC: Going back to school full time has made me available for my husband and our four kids. I was a stay-at-home mom before, and I loved it. However when I went back to work, I found confidence within myself that was tucked away. So coming back to stay-at-home mom and pursuing my education, I am scared to death. I struggle with believing in myself, that April LaDonna Clark can go to college and get a degree in Office Administration, help her husband with the business side of Upholstery Plus, be available to her four kids, and be a stay at home mom.
The fear of not making good grades, having to drop a class because I am overwhelmed with so much on my plate, and losing sight of myself. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.” That is my life verse. So when the devil comes at me with doubt and fear, I look at him and say “Nope, not today, Satan!” I quote this verse, and I remind myself that I can and will do this, no matter what comes my way. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine. I will walk across the Wallace stage, and those four beautiful kids and my husband will cheer me on because they know just how hard their Mommy/wife worked to get to where she is now. This new change is good and scary, however I know my God can and will help me through it all. I just have to let go of fear and doubt, and he will meet me in the middle of it all.
WP: Watching my own mom go back to school while I was young was pretty empowering for me, especially as a girl. Do you think it’s important that your children see you pursuing higher education, even now that you’re an adult?
AC: My mom was a single mother raising three kids, had a full time job, and was going to Nursing school. We talked a few days ago, and she reminded me that I am around the age she was when she was going to school and that you are never too old to go back. I am 38 1/2 years old, a mother to four kids. They make me a better mom every day. They encourage me in ways that bring tears to my eyes, and I cry at a drop of a hat! I look at our Lily-Marie who is a sophomore in high school and remind myself I only have two more years and this beautiful butterfly will leave the nest and go off to college to become a juvenile lawyer. (I’m crying as I type this.) Have I taught her all she needs to know to help her get through this world? When life knocks her down, and her friends leave her? That’s where God reminds me: “I will take care of her. Trust in me.”
Our kids are watching their mommy go back to further her education. They are empowering me and I am them. They are seeing their mommy through the good, the bad, heartache, joy, happiness, and all the blood sweat and tears. And praising God for all of it. All I know is God is guiding me through it all, and I may not know the outcome or have all the answers. I just know He will give me words to say and help me show our kids. When you pray for something, God will answer you in his appointed time. You just have to trust him in all you do. Because after all, he knows you better than anyone else.
WP: We’ve got one semester of school behind us. Whew! How have things been with your kids?
AC: With this semester over, our kids are excited. Our sweet Raelin says, “It’s my birthday, I want a Frozen party, I am going to be 5!” Lily-Maire is excited because she will get her permit to drive and is turning 16 in June, excited because she is about to be an 11th grader and reminding us, “It won’t be long, and I will be a senior and leave this place after I graduate. Mommy are you going to cry? What are you going to do without me? I can’t wait to have my own car, money, job and hang out with friends.” Autumn is excited because she will be in travel soccer again and on a new team, no longer an elementary kid but a middle schooler! And Deacan can’t wait for kindergarten to be over so he can play football, basketball, and have fun being a 6 year old. They are all excited about the coming year and can’t wait to see what God has planned out for them. Even in the midst of a pandemic, they all have a smiling face and joy in their heart for what a new year will bring.
WP: Do you have any concerns heading into this second semester?
AC: My concern for the next semester is 5 CLASSES. BRING IT ON! I GOT THIS! WHAT’S THAT SMELL? All four kids are laughing..Did you pass gas? Nope, that’s Mommy passing this semester! My kids always tell me and Chris that they farted. I have no idea why this is so funny to them but it is and we just laugh. I know, total TMI, but hey we all need a good laugh.
WP: Let’s be real, 2020 was a tough year with a lot of ups and downs, but I believe in finding the positive. So, what would you say was your greatest accomplishment from the past year?
AC: I have two actually. 1) I got accepted into college. Never in my wildest dreams did l ever think I would be going back to school, much less at my age, a mother of 4 kids who all have busy schedules, a husband who opened his own business, and me helping him run it.
2) God has done some mighty things in the Clark home. My husband broke his ankle in October. I was not the happiest wife when I found out. Our anniversary and Deacan’s birthday were in that same week. It took me awhile to see what God was doing and how he was cleaning out our lives and home. God meets us when we least expect it, and he will stop us in our tracks to get our attention, and boy did he get ours. God has made a major change in my husband’s life. Chris’s whole outlook is all God and God alone. When I look at my husband, I see the man that God had always wanted him to be but was so afraid to step out and let go of what the world had ahold of him. We celebrated 17 years of being together in September. October 8th was our 16 year anniversary. Sixteen years of marriage. No one in our family has ever been married that long. We both come from divorced parents, drugs, alcohol and abuse. When the world told Chris and me that we should give up, we told the world, “What God has joined together, Let No man Separate.” Marriage is not easy; you have to work at it every day. I would always say, “Don’t call me Mrs. Clark because that’s my mother-in-law.” However, God changed my words and how I say them. Now it’s, “Call me Mrs. Clark,” because that’s who I am, and I love being Mrs. Clark.
WP: Now that we’re in a new year, what goals or resolutions do you have for 2021?
My goal for 2021 is to be better than I was yesterday, live as if it was my last day on Earth. Being the best Wife I can be to my Ezer (Helpmate, best friend, Husband), show our four kids what a Godly mother looks like and help point them to Christ. Love with all I have and hope that others see Jesus in me. Be kind to myself and love me for me. Phipp 4:13
WP: Do you encourage your kids to set goals? If so, what’s something you do to help them achieve their goals?
AC: Chris and I both encourage our kids to set goals for themselves. We have Lily-Marie and Autumn write out their goals. No more than 10. When they achieve a goal, we cross it off and go to the next one. It’s always good to set goals for yourself so you can go back and refer to them, maybe change one or add to the list. Also write the date that you achieved the goal that way you can mark it on the calendar as a reminder of when you achieved it.
WP: What’s something you and your family are looking forward to this year?
AC: As a family we look forward to new and exciting adventures we can get into. Like going see my Dad who Lives in Texas, letting my family see where I grew up and went to school, and seeing friends and family that I have not seen in years. With Lily-Marie turning Sweet 16, I will finally have someone who can drive me around, LOL. That’s exciting for her and emotional for me. Our baby is not a baby; however she will always be my little girl in my eyes. Autumn will have tryouts for travel soccer, and that’s so exciting because she is an amazing goalie. She has grown over the years and has gotten really good at it. We are so proud of her and all of her hard work. As far as Deacan and Raelin go, they are just happy that school is out and they can play, watch movies, camp out in the living room, aggravate their sisters, and see what else they can jump off of and scare Mommy to death. And that my friends is what I call priceless.
WP: With four kids all in school, a husband, and your own schoolwork, life is no doubt busy for you. How do you stay organized? Do you have any homework hacks?
AC: I have to write everything down. From doctor appointments to school stuff with the kids, anything, it must be written out and on every calendar I have in the house, on my phone, tablet, and I still may forget. I mean, hello, four kids… and let’s add the husband. He is my big kid, LOL. He still thinks he is young at 41. I help myself by writing it out, plan out my week, and pray it gets done. However, if it doesn’t then there is always tomorrow.
WP: What’s the best thing about having a large family?
AC: The best thing about having a large family is there is a lot of love to share. The sound of those sweet adorable feet running to wake you up because they are ready to start the day at the lovely 6:00 am. They are your morning wake up call. It’s the sound of joy, peace, and a pure heart to remind you of what is so important. And that is LOVE. I never imagined God would bless me like this. A husband after God’s own Heart, and being a mother to four kids. It’s a beautiful gift, and I am ever so richly blessed. We are the Clark Family, Party of 6, and I would not have it any other way.
WP: What about when you need to recharge? What does self-care look like for you these days?
AC: A nice hot bath, my Sunday playlist of my top favorite Christian music, and hopefully staying in there for at least 30 minutes. If that’s not going to happen, I love to read my Bible. I read a chapter a night. That refreshes my mind, and I can let the word of God speak to me. I also play merge the dragons on my phone.
My self-care looks like a hot mess walking into Target. Ask my hairstylist, he sees me within 3-5 years. Yes, I said 3-5 years. It’s not that I don’t long to have my hair cut because I really do, but when money is tight hair is not on my list of needs. It’s on the “Oh how I wish list.” You know the list that says a FULL DAY AT THE SPA! Now that’s a list I would sign up in a heartbeat. I mean what mother does not want that. If I do want to look pretty, our Lily-Marie will straighten my hair, do my make up, pick out my outfit, Autumn will pick my jewelry, and Raelin will try and wear my shoes. We take photos, Deacan will photobomb us with his cute self and superhero toys. And then there’s those beautiful moments where my husband will surprise me and say “Babe, go get your hair done, or your nails done.” I then cry and say, “Yes, I am calling my hairstylist for a much needed hair do over.” There’s something about getting your hair done. When you walk out it’s as if you lost 20 pounds and you come out all SMOKIN HOT MAMA! I guess it’s time for my hair cut/color change.
WP: Are there things you do with each of your kids one-on-one to recognize and encourage their individuality?
AC: One of my favorite things to do as a mother is spend one-on-one time with each of our kids. Lily-Marie comes with me when I need to run to the store or do a little shopping. It’s our Lily-Maire and Mama time. We talk about everything, sing and jam in the car, get smoothies or cafe mocha. Autumn and I love to do puzzles together. She also loves it when she comes with me to the store. She will play music, and we sing and jam. We also like to lay in my bed and watch a movie, eat ice cream and popcorn. We even hang in her room and talk. Our time together is something I cherish and want more of. Deacan loves to go with me everywhere I go. He loves to be outside playing, climbing trees, jumping off anything that will scare me out of my mind. We both love watching Toy Story and the Lion King. We sing along to all the songs and we know the whole movie by heart. Raelin loves anything Frozen, so we watch Frozen and Frozen 2, and we know the whole movie and songs. We even dance to it, too. I love my time with our kids. Each one is different in their own way. You learn a lot from watching them, and you help them grow by encouraging them to keep trying and find what they are good at.
WP: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
AC: You are smarter than you give yourself credit for. Even though you were sexually abused from 4 1/2-13, you are NOT worthless. You are smart, kind, beautiful, and there is nothing you can’t do. Don’t listen to those who said you will never amount to anything. You’re not a piece of trash, and you will do great things. Because you are a child of God. He created a beautiful lady who is strong in her faith, is kind hearted, and who loves her husband and her kids. So what if someone doesn’t like you or they say something that hurts you? Let them speak because those are just lies from the devil, and one day they will miss not knowing who you really are. So don’t beat yourself down, April. Girl you got this!!! Remember Philppians 4:13.I
WP: Any advice for new moms?
AC: Don’t beat yourself down if you don’t get it right or if your house is a mess because you forgot to wash and dry clothes, wash dishes from the night before, you have not showered in 3 days, and you are still in your pjs. Sister, I see you! We are all a hot mess on a good and bad day. However, God is taking our hot mess and molding us into a beautiful mess. He sees us and knows the struggle is real. Stop looking for the world to lift you up because, honey, the world looks at us as something to be used. Pray. On my goodness pray. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. Find somewhere in your house and just pray. We set the tone in our homes. If you are having a bad day and have not let go of that, when your family comes home it won’t go well. I speak from experience and to myself as I am writing this. Get some sisters that will tell you what you need to hear, call you out in a loving way, that will walk with you in the good and bad times.