Nichole Nordeman on Marriage and Motherhood
By Belinda Elliott
Daily Life Producer
CBN.com Nichole Nordeman has known the excitement of having a best-selling album, winning numerous awards (including Songwriter of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year), and singing live at packed arenas across the country. But when she became a mom for the first time, she found herself in uncharted waters.
The acclaimed songwriter found her normally well-ordered world turned upside down, and she took some time off to return home and begin a new adventure, motherhood. The lessons she learned inspired her next album, Brave, released last year. Now the proud mother has returned to life on the road, this time bringing her son Charlie along for the ride.
I was able to catch up with Nichole by phone during one of her daytime breaks on the Casting Crowns’ LifeSong Tour. She shared with me the lessons motherhood has taught her and how she balances her career with her family.
What has it been like having your son Charlie on tour with you?
It has been really fun. He will be 3 years old in July, but he is at that age where everything in his world is new and exciting. Every new person he gets to meet or new experience he gets to have is just like Disneyland. He is like a sponge, just soaking it all in. On the road there is no shortage of new people to meet and new places to go and new experiences, so he loves it. He has really adapted to it well because he is such an outgoing, friendly little guy. I also think it’s been fun for a lot of folks out here to have him around, but of course I could be slightly biased. He is a great little guy.
Describe your typical day.
I would have to choose a couple days. One is a day when I am off the road, and one is a day when I am on the road. When I’m on the road it’s a little strange because we drive all night on the bus, and everybody sleeps on the bus. There are bunks for us. When we get to the next city that next morning, I do interviews and do some work from my phone and my laptop. Then we head over to the hotel, and everybody grabs a quick shower. Then I just try to keep Charlie entertained for the rest of the day and find exciting things to do. Later, we have show time that night, and then we are on the bus and on to the next concert. It’s kind of a cool little routine. Once you get in the groove of it, it’s pretty easy.
And then off the road, a typical day for me is probably like any mom. I’m doing lots of laundry and trying to figure out what to make my family for dinner and maybe finding time to read a book after everybody has gone to bed. Or in my case, maybe I will do some songwriting -- it’s finding those tiny moments just to myself or just with myself and God. That’s my life in a nutshell. It’s not nearly as exciting as people think it is.
What are some of your favorite things to do with Charlie while you are on tour?
We just like looking for adventure in unlikely places. Kids are so funny. In my experience, they don’t need all the gadgets, toys, and blinking, blaring things that we give them from the toy store. He is much more interested in trying to chase that leaf as far as he can up the hill. He just loves going on walks and finding sticks and rocks and imagining that he is creating his own little fantasy land. That’s the kind of stuff that we do on the road. At first I felt all this pressure, like we’ve got to go to the aquarium or in every city we visit we have to find something interesting for a 2-year-old to do, but he just wants to be with me and spend time learning about the world around him. It’s a lot of fun.
What have you learned from becoming a mother?
I don’t even know if we have enough time. If we had a couple hours, I might be able to tell you. I’ve learned a lot. I can’t even remember my old self prior to being a mom. I would say if there is a lesson that has stood out it is just about letting go of control. That has always been a real thorn in my side, just in general, in my spiritual life. I’m want so much to be in the driver’s seat and want to call the shots, and it is like God is continually wrenching my fingers off the steering wheel and saying, “This is not for you to drive.”
I think that’s the biggest lesson in being a mom is that there are so many things that you can’t control. God has entrusted me with this little life. I can certainly make sure he eats fruits and vegetables, but there is a whole lot that I cannot direct and guide as he grows, matures, and becomes an independent little thinker and has his own walk with the Lord, hopefully. It is really hard to know that I don’t get to be in charge of that. That’s where I have to hand over the control to the Lord. That’s probably the biggest challenge for me.
Do you have any advice for moms who are busy? You have a demanding schedule, how do you keep everything balanced?
Well, sometimes I do and sometimes I probably don’t. It’s like anything, just about the time you have it all figured out -- and you think you’ve got everything prioritized correctly because all of the balls that you are juggling are somehow in the air and not falling down -- then life sort of throws a curveball with something unexpected. You have to be flexible. That’s probably one of the other lessons that God has taught me about parenting is that you have to stay flexible and you have to stay teachable. The moment you get sort of rigid in your approach to anything, it can get pretty painful. I just try to go with the flow and make sure that at least the basics are covered and that I’m making some time for my relationship with the Lord. My family comes right underneath that in terms of importance. Making sure they are cared for as a wife and a mom is a priority for me. Before I focus on my music, I make sure that my family is cared for. Some days I keep it in balance and other days I could probably do a better job.
For many couples, when kids come into the picture the marriage gets placed on the back burner. How do you deal with that?
That’s a very real challenge for everybody, and my marriage is no exception. It is maybe even a bit more of a challenge because I’m on the road and my husband is at home in Dallas. He has a “real job” I guess you would say, and he has to be there to hold down the fort for his job and for our house. So yes, it makes it more of a challenge to make time for each other and to make it a priority because there are always 200 other things that need your time and attention. We’re both pretty driven, kind of high energy people, so it is very easy for us to go for a couple weeks and then kind of look at each other like, “Wait, what was your name again?” Then we have to put the brakes on, slow down, and say, no this has to come first before the other stuff. If we don’t have a foundation, we are in big trouble.
It sounds like your husband is a strong source of support for you. How can couples develop a support system with each other as they try to balance their families with their careers?
I think that, in any relationship, we are so easy and so quick to only think about life from our own perspective and through our eyes. I know that if I’m thinking about how hard my schedule is, and how tired I am, and how over-committed I feel, and my husband is having the same thoughts – if he is feeling resentful that I haven’t been home for a while -- all those little tiny seeds of dissatisfaction and frustration can grow over time. It’s always helpful for me, and for him as well, when we can just look through the other person’s eyes for a second and sit down and try to think, “How does this feel to him? What is he going through? How can I try to meet his needs?” I try to look at his needs through his eyes. I think that is the first step in trying to be supportive of each other. And at the same time he does that for me. He asks what is it like for Nichole to be trying to juggle all this stuff and be on the road, and how can I look for ways to be supportive and not irritated or resentful? That’s been the key for us. It’s hard. It’s hard to do because we all want to meet our own needs without thinking about somebody else’s.
Do you plan to take Charlie on other tours as he gets older?
I don’t know. I just don’t know how that’s going to work because I don’t know if God will still be calling me to do this when it’s time for Charlie to go to school. I’d love it if that was part of His plan, but I’m open to the fact that in a couple years God might call me out of the spotlight, or public side of ministry, and maybe into something a little more stay-at-home like songwriting for other people or something like that. I’m trying to just take it one day at a time, one record at a time, one tour at a time, and not project too far into the “How on earth is this going to work when Charlie is older or when we want to have more kids?”. Again, that’s just the controlling part of me. I want to map it out. I want a blueprint. And sometimes God says, “Trust me for tomorrow. That’s all I’ve got to give you for right now.”
How has motherhood influenced your songwriting? Do you write differently, or do you find yourself writing about different subjects now?
Not with any kind of an agenda. I don’t think I feel like there are different things I want to write about, but I think having a child broadens your perspective on the world. It makes you see people differently. It makes you see situations differently. It gives you more compassion for what other people are experiencing and walking through. It is such a lesson in taking the focus off of yourself. I think automatically that has changed my writing. Without even thinking about it I’m writing about things in a much broader way.
What’s next on the horizon for you musically? Are you working on anything new, or are you just concentrating on the tour right now?
Concentrating on the tour for now, but also my little wheels are starting to turn about a new record, probably next fall or maybe early winter. I’m starting to do the songwriting thing and figure out what I want to say on this next project. And more importantly, I’m seeking what God wants me to say and what lessons He has been teaching me that will find their way into songs at some point. So, that’s always on the horizon, looking ahead to the next project. It’s a little bit of a challenge to keep one foot in the here and now and one foot in the things to come category for me creatively.
If her past albums are any indication, there will be many good things to come from this talented artist. The Lifesong tour runs through Mid-may. Visit Nichole’s Web site to read her updates from the road and check the remaining tour dates to see if Nichole will be visiting your city this summer.
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