Mom to Know: Amy Houck


Our “mom to know” this month is Amy Houck.

Tell us a little about you and your family.
AH: I moved to Naperville in 1997 just as southwest Naperville was turning from farmland into suburban neighborhoods.  I have two wonderful daughters: Claire (23) and Elise (18).  It’s been an amazing parenting journey watching them grow up to become the unique, amazing, strong young women they are today.  

What part of parenting do you find the most challenging and the part that is most rewarding?
AH: I’d say the most challenging part of parenting is letting your kids learn by making their own mistakes. An example that comes to mind is tying shoelaces. When your kids are just learning to tie their shoes, you will do the job faster and better than them 100% of the time.  But kids need that time and space to learn, and I vividly remember holding my hands behind my back to stop myself from just tying their shoes for them.  It’s hard!  I share this example because it’s an apt allusion to watching kids grow and learn by making mistakes – it’s easy to step in and fix their problems, but sometimes we are standing in the way of them learning important life lessons.  The most rewarding part of parenting, for me, is watching my kids grow up to be the people they are meant to be.  It’s my joy and privilege to be their mom!   

Photo Credit: Lindsay Chan Photography

What has surprised you most about being a mom?
AH: I look back at my own mom and think about how I felt she always knew exactly what she was doing.  Once I became the mom, I felt like there was some sort of secret “mom” manual that existed, and no one gave me a copy!  I felt like I was building the plane while I was flying it.  The good news is that your confidence builds over time and with experience, like most things in life. 

How do you rate your level of “mom guilt” on a scale from 1-10? Explain.
AH: Now that my kids are older, I’d say a 2 – but when my kids were younger, my “mom guilt” was definitely higher!  I used to compare myself to other moms who always seemed to be more organized, more sporty, more creative, and had all the activities and permission slips and volunteering totally under control.  Now, as a mom with older kids, I’m doing a better job of realizing I have always done my very best, and while the closets were never 100% clean, my girls never doubted that I love them with every ounce of my being.  In our book, that is what matters most

Who inspires you and why?
AH: My mom inspires me every day.  She was the most positive, uplifting, and loving person I’ve ever known.  If my daughters end up loving me half as much as I will always love my mom, I’ll call my parenting job a smashing success.

Do you have a favorite hobby or activity that you intentionally make time for each week?
AH: If you had asked me this question a few years back, I would have said reading, but I made the decision to go back and get a graduate degree….so can you call writing papers as a grown adult a favorite activity? That’s a stretch, but I do love to learn and most certainly make time for learning each week.  It’s a gift you can give yourself.

If someone would describe you in one word, what would it be?
AH: Optimistic

Fill in the Blank: If I had one week to myself, I would _____ and _______.
AH: If I had one week to myself, I would go to a spa and eat food I didn’t cook and get massages every day.  Dang, that sounds like a great plan right now!

Any life lessons you would like to share?
AH: Take time to center yourself – whether in meditation, prayer, or whatever works for you.  You can be your own center of calm in the storms that happen in day-to-day life.  This has carried me through my own ups and downs. One of my favorite quotes is from Shakespeare: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Words of wisdom for new moms.
AH: Be gentle with yourself, and try to give yourself grace and kindness – as you would give a dear friend. 

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