As parents, we wish we could have all the answers for our kids. We hope to be a safe space for them to come to when they’re feeling down or having problems at school. However, sometimes, it’s our kids who end up giving us some of those answers and teaching us about what it means to be a vulnerable human. Fixer Upper star Joanna Gaines knows this too.
Gaines, 44, opened up to PEOPLE about the importance of being “vulnerable” with her kids and how her mindset as a mother and what motherhood “should” look like has changed since becoming a mom 17 years ago.
The reality TV star, who shares sons Crew, 4, Drake, 17, and Duke, 14, and daughters Emmie, 12, and Ella, 16, with husband Chip Gaines, said, “I always thought, ‘I’m the mom, I should have the answers.’”
Now, Joanna thinks that maybe it’s okay to not have it all nailed down and be all-knowing for her children, so that they can see she is human too, which will allow them to also be human and make mistakes. They know that mom will “get” it because she’s been there too.
“The older I’ve gotten, I’ve realized the more humanity these kids can see in me, the more we’re going to connect,” she revealed. “I want them to see the highs and lows, so when they’re feeling anxieties about school or relationships, they know it’s a safe place for them to come to me.”
After feeling that burnout that all moms get from time to time, Gaines began journaling and writing stories about her life, her past, and how she was feeling about the world she had created around her and the would she did not.
Earlier this year, Joanna began to feel burned out after years of running at high capacity, and the pressure of her own expectations.
She’s putting all those stories in her new memoir The Stories We Tell, available Nov. 8.
The author wrote that The Stories We Tell was “the only way to break free.”
“It was like my soul was coming back to my body. Like the deepest parts of me that got knocked around and drowned out by all the crap I let the world convince me about who I was came back to the surface. And what was left was only what was real and true. I was, finally, standing in the fullness of my story. I felt hopeful. I felt full. Our story may crack us open, but it also pieces us back together,” she wrote on her website.
She told PEOPLE that the experience of writing this kind of book was cathartic for the mother of five.
“I feel thankful for the process,” she says. “In the beginning, I never thought I would share this with anyone. But then when I realized in that vulnerability, when you do share your story, if it inspires one other person to write their story down so that they can see that clarity and purpose in their own life, it’s worth it.”
She continues, “It brings connection. I just started realizing, this isn’t just a process for me. I truly believe that we all have these amazing stories that we have to hold. And when you hold them well, I mean that’s where life is, that’s where beauty is.”