Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Thank you all so much for joining us today for another interview in our ongoing series! For this interview, we were able to speak with Dallas Louis, author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning book, Why Some Animals Eat Their Young: A Survivor’s Guide to Motherhood! In this laugh-out-loud book, Dallas shares highlights of what happened in her world once all her dreams came true. She would like readers to find comfort in knowing they aren’t the only ones suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or buyer’s remorse. With her irreverent humor and brash “tell it like it is” style, she’ll help you laugh at everyday situations, easing the pressure of the toughest job in the world: being a mom. Keep reading to find out more about Dallas and her award-winning book, Why Some Animals Eat Their Young!
MCA: Hi Dallas, thank you so much for sitting down to speak with us about your fabulous book! Why Some Animals Eat Their Young is such a delightful read that is filled with so many laugh-out-loud moments that are so relatable to any parent! As one reviewer of this book said, this book should be required reading for all moms, whether they be rookies or veterans. I have to start the interview by finding out more about the author behind such a fun and insightful book!
Dallas: My name is Dallas Louis. I have no middle name—evidently, my parents couldn’t think of anything other than Fort Worth to match up with a name like Dallas. I grew up in Austin and have lived in Houston for nearly 25 years. Between my childhood, adulthood, and my name, I have the three major metroplexes in the state of Texas covered!
I’ve been married to the man of my dreams (Jeff) for over 22 years. We met outside a country-and-western bar, got married seven months later, and had our first baby 17 months after that, followed by two more babies in very quick succession. Our kiddos are all roughly a year apart. Ethan is 21, Emma is 20, And Elliott is bringing up the rear at 19.
Ethan is getting married next June to his high school sweetheart, and we couldn’t be more excited. Emma is a cosmetologist and has been dating a terrific young man for almost three years. They want to get married when he finishes college. Ethan and Elliott are both in the School of Engineering at Texas A&M University, Ethan in nuclear and Elliott in computer science. My boys will change the world. All three kids live together—pray for them and us! Sometimes it’s like they’re still toddlers.
I blog about mommy issues, and I’m currently working on the sequel to Why Some Animals Eat Their Young. I also speak to women’s groups (think churches and moms’ groups) about parenting and marriage.
MCA: If your blogs are anything like your book, we’re sure they’re a huge hit! We would love to share some on Mom’s Choice. What was your inspiration for Why Some Animals Eat Their Young?
Dallas: Through the grace of God or sheer dumb luck, I wrote down some of my kiddos’ greatest hits about life when they were younger. To be fair, some of those greatest hits were actually epic fails on my part. Children don’t come with an instruction manual. I’ve found through the years that many moms/parents feel really alone when they have little ones underfoot. I know I did. I wanted to give some encouragement to the mom who hasn’t shaved her legs since NSYNC broke up and to the mom who hasn’t eaten a hot meal in five years and is magically sustaining her own life on PB&J crusts and stale cups of water that her toddler thinks are “yucky.”
MCA: Children can definifley provide an abudance of entertainment and writing inspiration. Tell us the importance of family and to never lose sight of the wonder and humor in everyday life!
Dallas: Here’s the deal: When you bring a fresh baby home for the first time, your world goes completely pear-shaped. You are exhausted and overwhelmed. Once you add more babies to the mix, those feelings only intensify. When my children were zero, one, and two, I’ll freely admit that finding joy, humor, and wonder seemed like a near impossibility.
The wonder I did experience was constrained to wondering when everyone was going to sleep through the night—or if they would ever sleep again at any time. Just FYI, that particular event took about eight years from the birth of my first one. Having kids is a tough job, to say the least. But with just a little help from a solid circle of mom friends, your spouse, or even your mother-in-law, light will start to glisten. After a much-needed nap, your eyes can refocus to see that these kids are incredible! The rate of speed that they grow, the new things they learn daily, and the absolute goofiness they display are truly humbling to watch and be a part of.
MCA: Can you share with us your philospohy of why children need a parent and not just a buddy?
Dallas: I am 40-plus-plus years old, and my mother is still not my buddy. I have a child who “forgot” my vehicle was in motion one day after I picked him up from school, and he opened the door and tried to get out! Granted, we were on our street and not going 70 mph down the interstate—but still. My number one job as his parent is to keep him safe. I used child locks on my Suburban doors after that day. This kid! He’s also the one who wanted to do his homework on the roof because “it looks cool up there.”
As a mother, I can’t allow this. As a buddy, sure, why not? Our job as parents is to raise healthy, happy, adjusted, and productive members of society, and then release them into the wild. If we don’t establish clear boundaries and teach them how to function collectively in their world, we are fueling the thought process that all children have—namely, that they are the center of the universe. Perpetuating this mindset with our kids will lead to selfish, thoughtless, and ultimately unemployable adults who think they are above everyone around them.
The truth of the matter is sometimes you actually are at the bottom of the food chain, and that’s okay. It is not a toxic trait to have respect for your elders, open doors for strangers, eat what is put in front of you, and pick up trash on the sidewalk. As parents, why wouldn’t you teach your children that there is a natural hierarchy to society?
If you want respect, you must be willing to give respect. Friends can’t effectively teach that lesson, but parents can. At the same time, I must provide a label warning: Maintaining boundaries, rules, and respect is tiresome and requires an almost superhuman will to stay the course. Consistency is the only tool that will see you through to the finish line.
MCA: What is the best thing a parent can model for their child?
Dallas: Respect. That is the best model we can give. Respect for our spouse. Jeff and I both come from divorced homes. In fact, between the two of us, we had nine parental influences growing up. On my side, respect between my parents was laughable. They have been divorced for over 40 years, and to this very day, my mother has nothing but terrible things to say about her ex-husband. When Jeff and I got married, we didn’t want to be like our parents—in more ways than a few.
We modeled our marriage after our grandparents. All of our grandparents and great-grandparents were married for at least 50 years, with my grandparents coming in first place at 72 years! That was what Jeff and I wanted to accomplish. The biggest way to achieve that goal was through mutual respect for each other. We made promises to each other when we got married, and we believed wholeheartedly in those vows. In 22 years of marriage, I can count the times on one hand (with fingers left over) that Jeff has slightly raised his voice to me. Our children have never heard that from him. They have never heard either one of us call the other bad or foul names. They have never heard either one of us “cuss out” the other—that is something we simply have never done.
Does that mean we never fight? Of course, we do, and some arguments have been intense enough for us to seek a third-party mediator in the form of a marriage counselor. But we always come back to each other with respect. I don’t want someone yelling at me. That makes me feel terrible, and it hurts my heart. So if that’s how I feel when I’m being yelled at, why would I willingly and knowingly make my husband feel like that? I promised to love and cherish him, not break his spirit. The same goes for him.
That is what we have given to our children. Our oldest will be almost 22 when he gets married. He has told us repeatedly that he and his fiancé want to duplicate what Jeff and I have. Unfortunately, his fiancé didn’t grow up in the most stable of homes, but she’s been a part of our family for almost seven years. She has seen what a strong couple looks like and what they can do for and with each other.
Jeff and I are better together than we could ever be apart. My hope and prayer for my children are that they marry people who bring out the absolute best in them, and they in them.
MCA: Tell us the importance of helping kids understand boundaries in relationships, social media, and other areas so they can become well-adjusted adults!
Dallas: Expanding on what I said above, I’ll touch on social media. My kids like it, but I don’t. The one thing that kids can’t understand about social media is that the internet never forgets. The things they post at age 16 can and most likely will come back to bite them in the bum.
Teaching moderation is key. Safety is paramount. If our children feel safe and secure in their homes, then they have no point of reference for true fear. And in most instances, that is a very good thing. But social media is nothing more than a buffet of the innocent and vulnerable for predators of all kinds. As parents, we must keep our children safe, and that most definitely includes boundaries around social media.
MCA: I’ve seen some of the reviews for your book online and one thing is for certain, people absolutely love your book! It really is a great (and realistic) guide to motherhood. What has that response been like for you?
Dallas: The response to this book has been surreal. The reviews have been truly humbling. I am honored that folks are taking the time to read about my crazy, hectic life. And don’t even get me started on the awards. I never really thought people would read the book, let alone that it would win multiple awards. I honestly feel like this is a dream.
MCA: Thank you for an amazing interview, Dallas. We cannot wait until your next book comes out, please keep us posted!
You can learn more about Dallas Louis and her award-winning book, Why Some Animals Eat Their Young by visiting her MCA Shop pages.