Episode 160 | Overcoming Fear in Motherhood | Jennifer Pepito of The Peaceful Press

Nearly every mother experiences fear throughout her parenting journey.  As Jennifer and I discuss in this episode, there are often new fears that emerge at every stage of parenthood.  We may fear failing our kids or fear for their safety, but the reality is that fear creates a suffocating environment in our homes.  As a long-time homeschooling mother of seven, Jennifer shares her journey of recognizing the impact of fear on her family and how she used the power of story to overcome it.  This is such a rich, grace-filled conversation meant to encourage you as you fight fear and embrace joy in your mothering.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How fears in motherhood change from season to season
  • The most common sources of our fears as mothers
  • Transforming our families by exchanging the power of fear for the power of joy 
  • Using the power of story of overcome fears
  • The gifts we give our children by prioritizing reading aloud as a family
  • Creating an environment in which our kids can pursue their unique interests
  • Reconnecting to our own passions and interests in the midst of mothering
  • How mothers can model a life of joy in our homes
  • What to read and how to create time for reading aloud

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About Jennifer

Jennifer Pepito is the author of Mothering by the Book and the founder of The Peaceful Press. Her homeschool curriculum resources help create joyful memories among families, which lead to deeper connections and lasting relationships. Jennifer’s writing has been featured in several online and print journals, including Wild and Free, Commonplace Quarterly, and Home Educating Family. She’s a Wild and Free podcast host and has made guest appearances on popular podcasts such as 1000 Hours Outside, At Home with Sally, and Charlotte Mason Poetry. Jennifer lives in the mountains with her family, where she enjoys reading aloud, working in her garden, and watching the sun set. Learn more at thepeacefulpress.com.

Resources

Mothering by the Book: The Power of Reading Aloud to Overcome Fear and Recapture Joy by Jennifer Pepito

Audiobook resources: Libby, Librivox, Audible, Storynory

Connect

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Transcript

Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I am interviewing Jennifer from Mothering by the Book or author of Mothering by the Book. If you enjoyed my conversation with Sally Clarkson, you are also going to love this one. Actually, Sally did the foreword of this book. She is a homeschooling mother of seven, so she has a lot of wisdom to share when it comes to fear in motherhood and then using literature to overcome it. She shares the power of reading aloud to overcome fear and recapture joy. So we are going to be talking about that. It’s a really great conversation and I think you’re going to really be encouraged by it. 

Lisa Bass My name is Lisa, mother of seven and creator of the blog and YouTube channel Farmhouse on Boone. Join me as I share with you my love for creating a handmade home, from-scratch cooking, and a little mom and entrepreneur life along the way. 

Lisa Bass Well, thank you so much, Jennifer, for joining me. I really appreciate you coming on and taking the time to impart some of your wisdom from years of mothering and homeschooling to our listeners. I have your new book here. Now, is this book actually out now? 

Jennifer Pepito Yes. It came out this late summer. September 2nd was the release date. I’m so excited to chat with you, Lisa. I’m a big fan of all things homesteading, and especially all the content that you put out has been so encouraging. Thank you.

Lisa Bass Well, thanks. Thank you so much. Okay. Well, let’s start with introductions. For those who don’t know you already, tell us more about your family and your work with The Peaceful Press. You can tell us about your book, some intros. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. So I’m the mom of seven children, and I’ve been married for 32 years. I live in Northern California on 1.8 acres. We were supposed to move up here for an easier life, but now we have chickens and goats and sheep, and we slowly keep expanding the menagerie. There’s a bunny in my son’s room right now. 

Lisa Bass Simple and easy are different. 

Jennifer Pepito Yes, yes. I’ve been homeschooling for 25 years, and six years ago I started The Peaceful Press, which is my company that creates literature-based resources for homeschool families. They’re really geared towards connection. But one of the things that is a neat tie with us is that my resources include practical life skills because I feel like things like knowing how to bake sourdough bread or make elderberry syrup are really great for science, great for motor skills development, but they’re also just great for life. So it’s fun to get to kind of present that side of The Peaceful Press to the world. And then I wrote a book called Mothering by the Book, which is about my journey with fear. I think so many moms do deal with fear, and a lot of the stories in the book are from our almost two years living off grid in Mexico. We were on solar, we were missionaries. It was a really intense life, and so I overcame a lot of fears during that season. 

Lisa Bass Was that when you had—I think I read—was it when you had five kids? 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, we moved down there with five children, but actually when we moved to the off-grid house, we’d just had our sixth baby. So she was two months old and we moved in there and didn’t even have— I mean, we didn’t really ever have theoretically running water. We had a thousand gallon tank. So every week we’d fill up that thousand gallon tank and I’d bathe my whole family and a thousand gallons of water a week. Can you imagine the laundry? How do you get laundry done with six kids with no electricity? We’d have to start a generator, run solar power. It was lovely. 

Lisa Bass Oh, I can’t imagine. I’m always so thankful for— I think about that because it’s really just not that hard to wash and dry your clothes whenever you think about the alternative. It’s just not hard at all. 

Jennifer Pepito Right. Right. I mean, we think, oh, my gosh, I got to get laundry done for all these children. But when the alternative is doing the laundry without any power or water, it’s really intense. 

Lisa Bass Mm hmm. It’s not actually too big of a deal. Yeah, I think we need to hear that every once in a while. What are some of the primary fears that women face in motherhood? You mentored moms throughout the years and met lots of moms. The primary fears. 

Jennifer Pepito I think a lot of the fears actually center around our own performance. Like we won’t be a good enough mom or we won’t be able to meet their needs or we won’t be able to love all these children or whatever it is. I feel like even though we do get scared about, will my child be well educated? Or will my child get hurt or get sick? I think there are as many fears centered around our own ability or lack thereof to mother well. 

Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah, I definitely think there are seasons too, because some of the fears you mentioned, I had more in the beginning of my motherhood. And then some of the other ones, like the safety ones, I think that’s getting worse for me as I have more kids, but the confidence in mothering is getting better. So I don’t know if that’s common or not. Maybe it’s just because you end up seeing so many things. You’re like, I don’t even know how we’ve made it so far. But yeah, maybe season of life thing too. Did you find that to be the case? 

Jennifer Pepito Oh, 100%. I feel like with us, I mean, there was the new baby. And I thought, how will I ever get through the baby years? And then we think, I don’t know if I’ll survive potty training. And then it’s how will I survive the adolescent years? I mean, every new season brings up new fears. And as we overcome, we develop more confidence. But I think it’s really important to learn how to process in between. Like with the book, Mothering By the Book, I talk a lot about journaling, grieving, and forgiving because I feel like if we don’t—at the end of a hard season—take time to maybe cry about what was hard or journal out, then we go into the next season a little bit hard, a little bit bitter, and even lacking confidence. What happened for me is I went through a hard season with a teenager and it robbed a lot of my confidence in mothering the younger ones, which cost a lot for our family. Whereas if I had right away done those steps of grieving the hardness of the season, forgiving myself and my child for the ways that we both contributed to that issue, then I could have alleviated a lot of the reaction, because I think what happens when we make mistakes as moms, is we’re reacting maybe to our own parents, maybe to a mistake we feel like we made. But parenting without fear also means parenting without reacting to circumstances and being more thoughtful and intentional about each new season. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Where do you think that moms pick up a lot of these fears? You already mentioned some things may be from the past and from childhood potentially, or picking up some just as you encounter certain things, you see, oh, maybe I failed in this one certain area and that’s where we are. But what are some other places? 

Jennifer Pepito I think a lot of it is cultural. You know, you see— like especially for us with social media now, there are so many ways to compare ourselves to others. And so it’s easy to look at somebody on social media and feel like, oh, I’m afraid that I’m a failure because I’m not baking bread every day. Or I’m afraid that I’m a failure because I’m not loving homeschooling or whatever the circumstance is. I think that there can be a lot of fears that come up from just comparison, but I think a lot of it is just in us as moms. I mean, we care so much. These are our own flesh and blood children and we’re so invested. I just love my children with a passion that’s like nothing else. And so it is easy to feel like, oh my gosh, like, what if I do it wrong and then they are in some ways disabled from life because of my mistakes? And don’t we have wonderful imaginations as moms? 

Lisa Bass Oh man. 

Jennifer Pepito Like, they’re jumping on the trampoline and instead of being like, oh, look, they’re having a good time, we start imagining them falling and breaking their neck. I think that it’s a combination of culture, our own imaginations, and just our own love for our kids and motivation to do well. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah, definitely. I wish— I guess I don’t wish, but it seems that moms get all of that imagination and dads don’t really tend to get it. And sometimes I’m like, why couldn’t we just split that? And this is common. I know I’m not the only mom and dad who the dad sees the kids having fun on the trampoline and the mom sees them falling off and breaking their neck. It’s common, but it’s like, why? 

Lisa Bass Yeah. And you know, honestly, Lisa, the reason I’m so passionate about helping moms overcome fear is because I feel like we rob our whole family of so much joy. Like a big formative part of my life was we were missionaries in Mexico. We were doing a very inspiring work, and we weren’t suffering. I know I talk about the living off grid and there was some suffering involved in that, but really we were doing an amazing thing as a family. We were helping an orphanage. It was very inspiring, and my husband was really happy. And me, because I have all these fears for my children, like, oh, are they not going to be equipped for life because we’re living in another culture? Are they not going to have good social skills because they don’t have very many English speaking friends? You know, I had all these fears for my kids, but really all they needed in that season was a mom who could embrace that life and be happy. And especially you look at so many biographies of people who went through hard times, and it was the attitude of the parents more than the hard time that affected the kids. And so I think, for us as moms, if we can get a hold of the power of joy in our families to bring life and the power of fear to bring destruction and chaos, I think we’d be a lot more serious about living by faith instead of just tolerating this crippling anxiety and worry. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. Oh, you’re so right. There’s so many things in life that it’s more about how you view it and what you make of it than it has to do with the actual circumstances. How can—this is the point of this book, but—how can literature help address those fears that moms have? 

Lisa Bass I think the power of stories, for me, is that I’ve seen people overcome. I’ve seen in— one of my favorite books is Little Britches by Ralph Moody, and it’s a whole series of autobiographical books about a boy living in early 1900s America. And his dad dies and his mom has to manage on her own. And it was, I mean, really an intensely hard time for their family. But the way that she tries to be so cheerful in circumstances, the way that she works towards keeping her family together when maybe a viable option would have been to send the kids away, it was just so encouraging to me to see her navigate that. And even like right now my husband’s away for some ministry training, and I’m reading about the life of Ruth Bell Graham. Same thing. She was on her own a lot and she didn’t sit there whining about it. And so as we read these stories of people who have gone before us and we see the way that they have lived lives of courage and purpose, it empowers us to overcome our own fears and have some perspective about our lives that really helps us bring joy and peace to our families now. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. 

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Lisa Bass Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about reading aloud with kids because that used to be the foundation of our homeschool and we still do it a lot. But I’ve found it a little bit more challenging as we’ve had certain kids be in different grades and need special attention on like math and things like that. Whereas we used to get by when they were a little smaller with just a lot of read-alouds. First, how have you seen reading aloud impact you and your kids? 

Jennifer Pepito Well, for one, it’s given us this whole shared stories. Like today, I’m reading aloud from the Magna Charta by James Daugherty, which is about early English history. And my son is also concurrently listening to The Lord of the Rings on audio. And so he’s visualizing the whole— you know, the siege of the castle at Northampton, he’s visualizing that as he thinks about the siege that the orcs were making on Rohan or something. So it’s like there’s all these connections that happen when we’re reading stories and listening to stories, and sometimes even from the movies we watch, that become this shared vocabulary. It also gives our children hope. My son and I listened to the the biography of Louis Zamperini this summer. He was a World War Two survivor. He was interned and just cruelly treated by his prison warden. And so listening to that story together, it built so much courage and hope and faith in us. And then it kind of tied in, like we watched Louis Zamperini speak at a Billy Graham rally. So there are so many connections that are made when we read stories together, and I think that this is the power. An education that is without story is often devoid of those connections that build thinking, build a worldview. If we just rely on worksheets or online learning, we’re really missing out on a lot of context that stories bring. So for my homeschool, I do have older children. Also my last two that I’m homeschooling are 13 and 15. So they take science and math at a co-op because I just I don’t love teaching math and I don’t love teaching upper-level science. So they’re taking those at a c-op, but we still read out loud every day because this is sort of the foundation of our family connection. And that is one of my most important values as a homeschooler, as a person, that we are a connected family, that we have these stories that we’re talking about, these memories that we’re making together. And I don’t think we can do it as effectively over worksheets or computer classes. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, I 100% agree with that. That’s been the desire we’ve had for our homeschool from the very beginning because I feel like I don’t remember stuff from school really, but now I find that I’m really interested in a lot of the things that I think I probably learned when I was in school. But I’m learning them in a way that is really fascinating and interesting. It could just be the development of the brain. Like maybe you just become more interested in things when you’re in your thirties, then when you’re a young kid, but you have to think that you’re going to retain a lot more whenever you’re interested. And I actually see that in my kids. I feel like they’re retaining a lot more. And then we’re also able to talk about it in regular conversation. Like you said, because you’re all reading the same book, maybe it comes up at dinner or just here and there. You’re all learning the same things, so I can see how that would be really effective now. Do you have a lot of the same— I guess my question is how have you learned how to piece together— like it sounds like you’re coming at the same historical event from a lot of different angles. Are you piecing that together yourself? Or the resources that you’re looking into? And then also, obviously, you’ve been a mom for a really long time and a homeschooling mom, so maybe that’s where you’re coming up with that. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. So as my kids have grown and life has gotten more busy, we have incorporated more audiobooks and shorter read-aloud times. And also like we listen to audiobooks in the car, we’ll listen to them at bedtime. So I understand how when our kids get older, we do have to fit in the reading aloud in different ways. And The Peaceful Press resources do include all those book lists. Like even if you didn’t want to use our resources, you can download the book list for free, and it has an American history book list, a world history book list. So that’s a great resource. But then, for me, because I just I do love learning and I love spiritual development, too, so I’m always like this whole Louis Zamperini, Billy Graham thing started with I had learned about the story of Hacksaw Ridge, and so my teen son and I watched that movie. We closed our eyes a few times but watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge, and that was about one angle of, I think, it might have even been World War One, and that’s what led us to reading about Louis Zamperini. So I think that is really where education gets exciting is when we do allow some of these rabbit trials to happen, which I think we can’t do if we overload our kids. I’m a big fan— I don’t talk a lot about high school because I don’t have resources that go to high school. But I feel like high school is the age when kids are actually excited about learning and not just learning about literature, but starting businesses or pursuing some kind of a dream. But we’ve been programed to overload them with all these credits to build a transcript, right? When really we should be building the transcript based on their interests and then free them to learn and pursue and stay alive. Like the point really is to keep that passion and drive alive in our kids. And I think we partly do that through letting some rabbit trails happen and making time for that. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s what we end up doing whenever we’re adults, right? I feel like I went all the way through high school, I did all the things you’re supposed to do— calculus, geometry, all of it. And then when I was in my early twenties, that’s when I discovered my passions for sewing and baking and homemaking in general. I figured out, oh, I love this stuff. And because of that, I was able to just consume everything that had to do with it. But I wonder what happens if you start with that same mindset when you’re 14 as opposed to 20? I’ve been talking about that with my kids. Actually, just today, my oldest daughter was saying she wants to take a Photoshop class because I’ve taught her some other— like I’ve taught her Lightroom and Final Cut Pro, but I haven’t taught her Photoshop cause I don’t know it. And I was telling her, “After you finish with your last math”— or she has a math book that’s like all the upper level math in one book, it’s by Abeka. And so once she gets through all of that, I’m like, “We’ll just start putting you on anything that you’re interested. I’m happy to buy you any classes,” because she’s very creative and she loves anything like that. But I love having the space and the free time for people in my family to explore those interests. So I think it’s really important. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I love that you’re making the— that you’re doing that for your daughter. For one thing, helping motivate her to finish the math book, but also giving her something to look forward to. Because I think that’s really a big key, too, towards— you know, I think with raising teenagers, two important keys are, one, don’t let them get bitter, like work through reconciliation. Don’t let them become disenfranchized from your family. But then, two, give them something better to pursue. If we don’t want them on video games all the time, then we have to give them animals to take care of or mountain bikes to ride or something to keep them doing something— they need something better. They need a replacement. So I love that you’re making that happen. 

Lisa Bass This is sort of off topic, I guess, but it goes along with what we’re talking about now. Have you, with all of your kids, since you have so many that are older, have you found that every one of them has an interest? Because I don’t know if— mine all so far seem to, but what if a kid doesn’t really have something that’s emerging as something they’re really excited to explore where they’re motivated intrinsically to explore something? Have you ever seen that? Or do kids always have something that they’re gravitating towards other than video games? 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I do feel like kids who have had some freedom in their high school years will have interests. And some of my kids have changed.  One was into drone photography for a little while, he was into parkour for a little while, and now he really loves working on cars. And so we did our best to facilitate the interests that he had and be excited about them. But also it was okay with us when he moved on to a new interest. I think raising teens just takes a ton of prayer, honestly, because there’s this fine balance that we’re walking between coaching them and also letting them make mistakes and also guiding them. It’s just really intense and every child is so different. So yeah, I think that definitely if a child has no interest, they maybe haven’t had the freedom or encouragement to pursue something and maybe they just need a little bit more free time, which is scary because I definitely do not want my teens— my teen boys have all played some video games, but I hate them with a passion. So I do my best to make it uncomfortable to play them in my home.

Lisa Bass Right, right. 

Jennifer Pepito Okay. You get a half hour. And, you know, I do what I can to make it just not very fun because I feel like we have to learn how to be producers of culture instead of just consumers. But I think sometimes a teen, maybe they’ve had too much schoolwork overloaded on them. Maybe it’s just been a stressful season. If they don’t have any interests, it might be that we just need to schedule some field trips or buy some classes or even doing like a camping trip or a backpacking trip where you just get that unplugged time where you could start to think a little bit, I think, is helpful. And I know this is especially hard for us who are online creators, it’s hard to give ourselves and our children that offline time to be creative when our businesses are online. But I think it is important for stirring up ideas in them and ourselves, really. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. One thing that I found is after I had freedom in my home because I was— pretty much my waking hours were scheduled from the time I started going to school all the way through college, I had either full curriculum course load or I had that plus a job. And so whenever I all of a sudden had all of this free time in my home, whenever I first got married and started having babies, I was very uncomfortable with that free time and I was like desperately searching for ways to fill it. So I think maybe for some moms, if maybe you’re a new homeschooler you don’t homeschool at all, but you want them to pursue some interests, it might take a little encouragement because they don’t know what to do when they’re given just open time because they’re not used to having it. And so my kids are used to it. That’s been my goal forever is tons and tons and tons of free time because they find creative things to do and interests to pursue whenever they have it, but if you haven’t done it yet, maybe there’s some tips that you have for—and I think you already gave quite a few of them—but for easing them into finding what to do with it. Because my first couple years of just being home all day, I was like, what do I do? And then I started finding stuff, and I was finding new things to learn. And soon there was a million things that I could do in my home to make me fulfilled and spend my time. But before I figured that out, I needed someone else to tell me what to do, and I had to break out of that. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I think Charlotte Mason has a motto. I think it is, “Everyone needs something to love, something to think about, and something to do.” And so I think having animals to take care of is one thing, something that really needs you that you have to maintain. Buying craft kits. If you have a child who you’ve just pulled out of school and they’re not used to having any free time, providing different kinds of craft materials like clay or painting or whittling or knitting just so they can kind of have some guided practice into using their hands to do things or exploring new things. I think scheduling classes or horseback lessons or just anything that would help get them off of a computer because it’s so easy. I mean, I am an adult. I’ve been homeschooling for 25 years, married for 32. I have a hard time having control over social media and phone use. So I think for children, if that’s an option, they’ll just veg out and not really develop any interests or skills. And sometimes being online can lead to skills. I’ve learned so much through blogs such as yours or the Country Life Vlog. Have you seen that one? The Azerbaijani people who are always making something amazing. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. Yeah, I have. 

Jennifer Pepito So, there’s so much that we can learn online. I think giving your children some tools to practice with. And also getting excited about learning yourself. Like if they’re not wanting to do anything, sit down and paint yourself. Sit down and knit yourself. You start doing something, you go out and work in the garden and hopefully them seeing you will start to spark some of that. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, those are great tips. 

Lisa Bass Taking a break from this awesome conversation to tell you about today’s episode sponsor, Azure Standard. You may have heard of Azure Standard if you’re hanging around the natural food or homesteading community. I have been ordering from Azure Standard for probably 12 years now. Azure Standard is essentially a co-op model, so you get together with a bunch of people in your area and get a big order on a truck so that you can get that combined price. They have drops all over the country. So I have the closest drop to me— there’s actually a few options for around 30 minutes or less away from where I live. If there’s no Azure Standard drop in your area, you can also set up a drop so that you can pool together and get natural and organic groceries for a really awesome price. Some of the things that I like to pick up for my Azure Standard— well, one thing is feed for my animals. We get our dairy ration that we put together for our dairy cows from Azure Standard. We get chicken feed, we get dried fruit like dates and figs. I do bulk flour and sugar, so a lot of bulk items for baking. We get raw honey. They offer meat. One of my favorite things to get from Azure Standard is cheese. I can only find organic raw cheese for a really, really expensive price around here, but I can get a big old block of it on Azure Standard. On my last order, I picked up a lot of frozen fruits. I picked up some trace minerals for my animals, some bee pollen, 40 pounds of organic cabbage that I made into sauerkraut, einkorn products, pasta, their fresh produce, whatever is seasonal I like to get from there. I like to get organic cream cheese and sour cream. There are so many things on there that I find for really great deal, and I also love that I can go at one time, pick up all of this stuff. So that way once a month I’m restocking everything. If you’ve been on the fence about checking out Azure Standard, make sure to head over to Azure Standard.com. Peek around on their website, check out the pricing. You might be really surprised at some of the items that you can find there that you can’t find locally and for a really great price. Azure Standard is offering a coupon code for Simple Farmhouse Life listeners. You can use code FARMHOUSE10 over at AzureStandard.com. Again, that’s FARMHOUSE10. If you’ve been on the fence about checking out Azure Standard, it’s going to be a really great deal for you to make that jump. 

Lisa Bass Back to talking about your book and fear. I have a few questions here about fear. Why should we work to overcome fear instead of just cope with it? And what’s the cost to our families if we stay afraid, stay in that fearful place? 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, I mentioned this earlier. You know, like in Mexico, my fears for my children were fears for them. I loved them. I wanted them to have a good life. I want them to have everything they needed. But my fears actually stole from them. I wanted better for them. But what my fears did is cause conflict. It caused me not to be present. I could have just been there and been enjoying the life we had. But instead I was off in my head worried about the future. And so I think the problem with just coping with fear and not really doing what it takes to overcome is that we steal so much joy from our homes, and we only have this little window to really present to our children the idea that God is good, that there is hope in life. They’re taking their cues about life from us. And if we act like life is this big, scary thing and it’s so hard and— you know, sometimes what happens, too, is we get this look on her face like we’re so scared, we’re so worried about our kids. And they take it to mean that they’re doing something wrong. They can’t interpret our feelings and realize, oh, my mom loves me so much. She cares so much about me, and that’s why she looks unhappy. They think that we are unhappy with them. And I don’t want my kids— I want my kids to feel— I want their memories of me— and some of them don’t have that memory. I’m having to repair some of that, but I want them to remember that their mom was delighted to care for them, that I was happy in my life, that I knew that God loved me. And I think that is really the core of our fears is, like it’s just so hard for us to imagine that there is a God who loves us and is watching out for us and who has good plans for us. And so then we try to control everything because we’re not sure that it’s safe. But I think the more we can just internalize that for ourselves that we’re safe because God is good, then we can start to really be in the present and laugh with our kids and sing with our kids and dance with our kids and bake with our kids. Just be happy in the present. And it gives our children such a beautiful worldview that, I mean, life is beautiful. Life is happy. You look at that movie, Life is Beautiful, you know, he made a horrific circumstance into something joyful by just, I mean, partly a little bit of self-control, because I’m sure he wanted to curl up in a fetal position, too. But I think we can do that for our kids. No matter what we’re going through, we can look at what is good in our lives and start to just put a smile on our face and talk to our children about how good God is and how safe they are in his presence. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. I’m sure sometimes even knowing this, there’s been times where you still start to go down the rabbit hole of fear, and your book is a lot about using literature to pull you back out of that. So how do you fit reading aloud into a busy schedule? And what do you recommend for other busy moms? Because for me it was a lot simpler, I feel like, to spend a lot of time reading aloud several years ago when I just had a few children and I was able to keep them all very contained. How would you recommend fitting that in? 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. I think that, for sure, including audiobooks is so helpful. And I think sometimes people don’t even know what to read. On my web page, MotheringbytheBook.com, there’s a book list there and it kind of actually is addressed to certain mothering fears. But basically, a lot of the books that we do are audiobooks now or— you know, I only read probably a half hour in the morning and a half hour at night or something like that. So it’s not hours and hours every day now. But my children also are in the habit of reading, and so I think cumulatively— like maybe you only have this short season where you read aloud as a family, but there’s enough of these inspiring stories that get into your kids’ hearts that they can hang on to those stories. We hang on to the story of Corrie ten Boom, and how she overcame. So we have read aloud every day for 25 years and it’s not always hours and hours, but cumulatively, that’s a lot of stories that have gone in to shape a worldview that says people go through hard times, so we’re not alone in our hard time, but we can overcome because other people have overcome. And one of the things I have to work on now is just—I talked about it early—is my imagination. Like it is just so easy for me. I have adult children now who don’t all live at home and they’re driving their cars on the road. And there’s a lot of things that that we could start to worry about when our kids are out of our presence. But I have to just use my imagination for good instead of evil. Like if something happens and my immediate first thought is negative, I have to just say, “God help me to imagine the best about this situation instead of envisioning the worst,” and that has been really helpful, too. It’s an ongoing process because as moms, there’s always a new season. But I think as we develop that skill of turning our attention towards what is true and good and beautiful and continuing to put those stories in, whether it’s an audiobook, whether it’s even a great, inspiring movie, that we just continue to focus on those hopeful narratives. And that’s what The Peaceful Press book lists are all about. We don’t highlight victim stories where there’s no happy ending because we believe that builds a worldview that’s very hopeless and nihilistic. Instead, we focus on the stories that build a worldview that says people have gone through hard times, but people have overcome, and we can overcome too. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, I love that. I’m so excited to look at all of your book lists. Do you have any recommendations for audiobooks? Do you use Audible or do you use the library? 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. LibriVox and there’s Libby, too. But I do mostly use Audible because sometimes the readings are so much better. But I’ve found some great ones on YouTube because some of the books that we read— we’re Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, and some of the books we read are— 

Lisa Bass Yeah. So they’re like past copyright. 

Jennifer Pepito Exactly. Some of them are past copyright or maybe a little bit tedious. And also, YouTube has been amazing for children’s picture books, like with The Peaceful Press, we include a lot of great picture books as part of the science and history education in the earlier years, and a lot of those are available on YouTube as well. So you get these really beautiful narratives as opposed to like a dry textbook snippet and it’s paired with lovely illustrations. So that makes a really wonderful way to teach our children. And if you don’t want to have a ginormous library or be reserving books all the time, YouTube is a great resource for wonderful picture book stories. 

Lisa Bass That’s a really good idea. I don’t think I’ve thought of that. We also have— have you heard of Adventures in Odyssey? I don’t think that probably goes with your great literature maybe, but it’s audio drama. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. Oh they’re fun though. 

Lisa Bass They are. We have the Adventures in Odyssey app and my kids just— they’re obsessed. They listen to it nonstop. So that’s one of the places that we use. But I’m wondering if there’s any other apps that are— I guess Audible. Audible seems sort of pricey, but I’ve definitely had a subscription off and on over the years because you can get pretty much anything on there. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, and so many of the books that we want to listen to are available on the library apps. But I’ve heard of Storynory too. I don’t know what those are.

Lisa Bass Yeah, I’ve heard of that too. Another great thing about Audible is you get to keep the book. So if you have a lot of kids and you’re homeschooling for a lot of years, you’ll end up revisiting it. So it’s not like you’re just going to buy it and listen to it one time, too. 

Jennifer Pepito Right. And that is true for us. Like we’ve read The Chronicles of Narnia stories out loud several times, but we also love listening to them. They’re so well done on Audible. So I have like 125 stories in my Audible library. 

Lisa Bass Oh, wow. 

Jennifer Pepito Through years of being a subscriber. But there are quite a few that are free on there too, I think maybe if you’re a Prime member or something. 

Lisa Bass Mhm. Yeah. 

Jennifer Pepito It has been a great resource for us because some of those books that might be a little bit harder to read out loud or that are longer, that has been one way that we’ve gotten some of those extra books in to our family reading plans. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, I really like that. I need to be more intentional with that because we have a few things that we get really into. Like they were into Boxcar Children for years. I think they listened to every last one, and then Adventures in Odyssey is now the thing. But if I get a little bit more intentional, they like to listen to things whenever they’re in here making potholders, or they have all kinds of little crafts they do, and they just listen to something. And so, I’m like, I could just be a little bit more intentional and get some good stuff in front of them pretty regularly pretty easily. Which book would you say have you connected with the most in your parenting journey? 

Jennifer Pepito You know, honestly, probably the Little House on the Prairie series, because I probably see myself a little bit in Ma. She is kind of fearful and these transitions are hard for her. Like she probably would have liked to have stayed in one place and not moved around and it was uncomfortable for her what they were doing. But she’s still—in times of crises—tried to make a game out of it with her kids. She still tried to be cheerful and kind to her husband, even when she was scared in a new situation. So I really appreciate the humanity there that she’s not perfect. A lot of people hate her for her attitude towards Native Americans, and I understand how odious that is now. But also, she was a normal mom in a scary situation. And I appreciate that you can look at somebody who’s maybe not perfect, maybe has some values that we— like we would never act like that now. We would never talk like that now. We’ve learned better.

Lisa Bass Right. Culturally, you wouldn’t do that. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah, yeah. But seeing her be afraid and still do her best to be kind to her family and loving and keep putting one foot in front of the other, especially when you contrast— if you’ve read the whole series, I think it’s the book These Happy Golden Years, maybe. 

Lisa Bass Yes, yes. 

Jennifer Pepito In one of the books, Laura is a school teacher, and she stays with this woman who’s going mad. 

Lisa Bass Mm hmm. 

Jennifer Pepito And so you can see that that could have just as easily been Ma’s story like living out there with no services around, no neighbors, no friends, no family. She could just as easily have been threatening her husband with a knife in the middle of the night, but instead, she’s putting up her little china shepherdess and hanging the curtains and baking the bread. Doing her best.

Lisa Bass Yeah, she always made stuff pretty. She, like, dyed her butter and she swept her dirt floor. She was always doing something to make it just a little bit prettier with the meager amount that she had to work with. 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. And I think it’s really encouraging because we, as modern moms, we’re scared of different things than she was, but we still have a lot of unknowns and a lot of fears that we’re dealing with. And so, looking at how she kept sort of putting one foot in front of the other, even during scary times is so encouraging to me today. 

Lisa Bass That is a really fun series. I read that to my daughters whenever they were probably way too young now that I think about it. But you know, with your first kid, you think they’re so old. So I’m pretty sure the first time I read through all the way aloud was when my oldest was three. Now I’m like, I would never just sit there and read it to— but, you know, with your oldest kid, when they’re three, you think they’re ten. When they’re 12, you think they’re 20. That’s just always kind of how it is with your oldest.

Jennifer Pepito Oh yeah, for sure. And then I’m sure the first time I read them, they were like six and seven or something.

Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes more sense.

Jennifer Pepito And I think young children really can get it. A lot of families use— our Playful Pioneers resource is based on the Little House on the Prairie series that’s American history centered around Little House on the Prairie. And a lot of families do that with like their oldest is six or something, so it is pretty adaptable, I think.

Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Jennifer Pepito But three, hey, she was probably really mature.

Lisa Bass I think she is. But there again, she is my oldest. But now my three-year-old son, he’s a baby. You know, whenever you’ve had so many— or whether you’ve had a lot or not, but whenever your older ones are older and you have a younger one, they’re a baby even if they’re five. So I think it’s funny how different you treat them. 

Jennifer Pepito Especially if it’s your last one. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. 

Jennifer Pepito Especially if it’s your last baby. It’s like you are my baby. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, Daniel, my three-year-old is not my last one, but still, he’s still a baby to me. He’s my sixth child. So we do have a seventh as well. But he’s  a baby. When my oldest was three, I thought she was a teenager, I guess because we want them to grow up when they’re older. 

Jennifer Pepito I understand. 

Lisa Bass Okay. Where can people connect with you and pick up their own copy of Mothering by the Book? 

Jennifer Pepito Yeah. So if you go to the page MotheringbytheBook.com, there are links to all of the main places for ordering, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBooks, and Amazon. And if you put your order number in on that page, you can download the book list I was talking about, a study guide that I did with my oldest daughter, talking through some of the ways that we overcome fear. And there’s also a few other goodies that are linked there. 

Lisa Bass Awesome. Those are some those are some really neat bonuses. I’m super excited to check out the book lists because that’s something I struggle with is knowing— especially if you’re going to be putting on audiobooks for the kids, if you’re not going to be there reading it to them, you want to make sure that this is something that somebody else has already approved of. That’s another place that I struggle. And so I love having that book list from a seasoned mom of seven. So again, thank you so much, Jennifer, for joining me. I feel like this has been a very impactful conversation. You’ve shared so much wisdom, and I really appreciate you coming on. 

Jennifer Pepito Well, thanks, Lisa. It was a joy to get to chat with you today. 

Lisa Bass Well, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Make sure to head over and check out the book lists by The Peaceful Press. We’ll be leaving links down in the show notes or the description box if you’re watching this on YouTube for that, for the book. Otherwise go to MotheringbytheBook.com and check that out. There’s books mentioned throughout this as well. So if you want some practical advice on how to apply what we talked about, which is something that I am very excited to dove further into as well, make sure to get the book. There is so much wisdom in there and follow along with Jennifer. As always, thank you so much for listening and I will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. 

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