Don't Lose Your Sexual Self to Motherhood, Says 'Naked Mom' Brooke Burke

VIDEO: "Dancing With the Stars" co-host Brooke Burke shares insights from her new book.
Share
Copy

"Dancing With the Stars" champ and successful businesswoman Brooke Burke wrote "Naked Mom" to spotlight what she believes is her most important job: mother.

In an interview on GMA, Burke told Robin Roberts, "I almost named the book 'Dancing through Chaos' because it's really about maneuvering through life and finding my own rhythm and trying to gracefully manage the chaos. I think most mothers are going to relate to it."

Burke said that mothers will relate to her honesty throughout the book.

"'The Naked Mom' really is about motherhood revealed and parts of me that no one has seen before. Either I'm going to do it truthfully, and I'm going to tell all, or not at all. I'm one of those mothers where I'm not ashamed to share my challenges and my difficult moments and also the things that I did right and the things that I'm learning…raising a blended family, not easy," said Burke.

Burke is frank about the things she's done wrong. "I learn every day from my children," she said. "I never do it perfectly."

Read an excerpt from the book below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library.

Lover, fighter, giver, taker, hero, villain, soul mate, bitch, spouse, daughter, sister, coach, seductress, ice queen, protector, chauffeur, chef, hostess, boss, trophy, caregiver, confidante, choreographer, director, playmate, maid, diva, martyr, negotiator, diplomat, nurse, gardener, cheerleader, hunter, gatherer, survivor, decision maker, counselor, vixen, fixer, dreamer, faker, mind reader, partner, accomplice, volunteer, drill sergeant, entrepreneur, juggler, clown, domestic engineer, goddess, witch, teacher, warior, banker, concubine, geek, spy, dairy bar, mistress, referee, fashionista, dancer, femme fatale, peacemaker, nurturer, judge, jury, comedienne, shrew, lioness, actress, champion, bodyguard, CEO, role model, best friend, competitor, advocate, manager, rescuer, sprinter, courier, princess, saint, sinner, networker, homemaker, employee, slave, dictator, rebel, servant, healer, politician, magician, muse.

How many different words describe you? A handful? A hundred? That's why I wanted to write this book, because I believe passionately that motherhood is so much more than the sum of its countless roles and dog-eared labels: This is about us. For us. Smart, sexy, soulful moms. Consider this an exposé of who we really are, when you shed the stereotypes and popular myths and the polished façades we all hide behind at times.

The Naked Mom is motherhood, revealed. It's not about being right or wrong. It's about being authentic. When you're raising four children, running a household, tending a relationship, building a multimillion-dollar business, and pursuing a television career, there's no room for pretense or posturing. I always knew I would be a mother, but I never imagined I would have this many children this fast, or that our lives would be full of changes and new challenges every day. But I was raised to take chances, to be strong, and to find my own way. When I think about myself as a mother, I suppose that's just what I've done. I don't believe in A-to-Z guides that spell out the "right" way to raise your children, or be a wife, or realize your personal goals. There's always going to be someone out there wanting to tell you exactly how to do it—that opinionated friend who thinks her way is the only way, another mother who's doing something better than you are.

Naked Mom

Modeling yourself after someone else will never work. I wanted to write this book to hopefully inspire women to share their experiences, to learn and live and laugh together. Motherhood is a community, and we should all reap its collective wisdom and joy. But at the same time, I hope you'll find your private dancer deep within, and let her guide you through the music that is yours alone. I hope that sharing my own missteps and triumphs will help you realize your own possibilities and discover potential you didn't know you had, or put aside long ago. The truth is, I've achieved more as a mother than I've ever done in my life.

This book won't tell you how to live your life, but I'll show you what really goes on behind the scenes in mine, and how I manage—on good days—to make it work.

Perfection isn't an ideal, it's an illusion. I just don't see life as an escalator, where ten easy steps will land you a perfect body, or perfect marriage, or perfect career. And this whole concept of defining success as the ability to balance everything? Makes sense if you're a circus seal, but not if you're a woman. Repeat after me: There is No. Such. Thing. As. Balance. I'm always asked in interviews how I balance everything going on in my life. The short answer is: I don't! If I strived for balance, I'd be disappointed every day. As a young mom, I was constantly chasing that goal, and when it (of course) eluded me, I would end up feeling inadequate. Clearly, I just wasn't doing "it" right, as if "it" could even be defined, much less contained and controlled. A decade of motherhood and too many missteps and mistakes to count have since given me the wisdom to let go of the stupid balance myth once and for all. Life serves up enough stress without lining up for second helpings. That's why I couldn't fathom writing your typical handbook for modern moms. We're more complicated than that. It'll suck the soul right out of you if you buy into the popular how-to propaganda that portrays life as some giant jigsaw puzzle that you can solve if you're just clever enough or patient enough to fit together all the precut pieces. What I envision is more of a mosaic, forever shifting and changing design, color, and mood. You can take the same tiny stones and create a placid lake or turbulent sea. Once you start sorting those countless little fragments, a pattern will emerge. You have to take that much on faith, then let skill and imagination fill in the rest of the masterpiece.

Naked Mom

Our lives are continually rearranged and take new shape. My own life is radically different today from what it was a year ago, when I sat in my office with a legal pad and a latte and first began thinking about what I wanted to tell you. My career is in a different place, my relationship has dipped and soared, and my four kids keep growing and learning and constantly changing. They educate and reeducate me every single day, and just when I think I've got them figured out, they change on me again! This whole process of soul searching has given me a chance to discover new things about myself, and to learn so much about myself as a woman, a mother, a lover. Having to examine my life and my choices under my own microscope was sometimes scary, but also exhilarating. I came to realize that what I wanted all along wasn't really balance after all.

It's fulfillment.

And that's something that's actually attainable, no matter who you are or what your circumstances. So, no, this isn't going to be some step-by-step how-to celebrity guide that will spell out what you need to do to be like me. To paraphrase the late, great Judy Garland, why settle for being a second-rate version of someone else rather than a first-rate version of yourself? I hope, though, by sharing my journey and my experiences, you'll start reflecting on your own woman behind the scenes, and discover—or rediscover—who she is and what makes her uniquely wonderful.

What excites me most about these frenetic times we live in are all the opportunities we now have at our fingertips to connect with one another through social media. I know from my ModernMom.com community that women from all walks of life are eager to share their stories, to learn from each other, and sometimes just to see things from someone else's perspective. There's an undeniable sense of solidarity that enriches and entertains us, a wealth of wisdom, information, observation, and, above all, compassion that's instantly ours for the asking. Most empowering of all is the knowledge that there isn't one "right" way, that it's okay to find your own way, to define your own boundaries and discover your own philosophy.

Naked Mom

As for me, I have to admit that I've always been a risk taker, whether I was staring down an eight-foot crocodile in a reptile pit while taping Wild On or setting out to stitch together a blended family from the tatters of my failed marriage. (Truth be told, the hissing croc has nothing on an enraged ten-year-old.) I sincerely believe that there's a purpose to everything that happens in our lives, good or bad. Mayhem is unavoidable. Still, it's a little intimidating to publicly admit some of those truths that we, as mothers, keep safely hidden away in our secret selves, never revealing that private dancer. Truths like "I love my children but I don't always like them," or "I'm too uptight to be the lover my partner wants."

One of the scariest parts of being a mother is also one of the most wondrous: Not knowing what to expect next. That part rings even truer for me these days as my two older girls hurtle through those vexing and perplexing tween years. Add two toddlers and my soul mate, David Charvet, into the mix, and you have a house full of wildly different personalities, each person going through his or her own phases, at their own decibel level. Everyone has their own needs, desires, disappointments, and dreams. Their only common denominator? Me.

Been there, done that? Come inside, it's a big clubhouse.

So here's where we stand: We can either deal with the chaos or be consumed by it.

Women with even the slightest hint of a survival instinct obviously choose the former. But then what? It's not like there's some Emotional Merry Maids service we can call to dust, vacuum, and hand-polish the chaos away, preferably with a discount coupon for repeat customers. If only we could shovel it all into plastic bags, tie them up neatly, and leave them curbside. Accepting that you can't—no, really, you can't—may feel like a form of surrender, but I promise it's not. It's actually an important victory. Because the chaos is always going to be there, to some degree or another. Blithely ignoring it may be a tempting option, but that's ultimately as effective as the rhythm method in a rabbit hutch. I propose a more calculated approach: Dance through it. It's all about hearing the music, finding your footing, and moving gracefully. You're amazing; the world is a mess. Don't get confused.

Naked Mom

Through my ModernMom.com Web site, blogging, tweeting, and good old-fashioned networking in the carpool lane, I've been able to build and tap into an amazing community of regular moms and celebrated experts. We vent, we comfort, we advise, we soul search, we coach, we share, we celebrate, and, when needed, we kick each other in the ass. It's a dynamic, 24/7 dangling conversation, and what I've learned—and continue to learn, every day—both sustains and inspires me. Technology didn't just give me tools, it gave me something of an epiphany: True fulfillment doesn't come from control; it comes from connection.

The Naked Mom explores the three personas that dwell inside us: the Woman, the Mother, the Lover.

The first section focuses on looking good and taking care of yourself. Moms are always too willing to put everyone else first and (falsely) claim that we're perfectly happy to forever be the last one on the totem pole. If you don't take the time to look good and feel good, though, it's all going to backfire on you sooner or later, and you'll become one more resentful statistic in the sad annals of Roadkill Mommies: Steamrollered by Life. We've all seen them, pitied them, and, yes, been them. But a little discipline, a bit of creativity, a lot of common sense, and a designer tote full of Hollywood's best glam tricks can fix that. (Hint: What do my hair and my favorite salad have in common?) So peel yourself off the pavement, already! You don't just deserve better—you deserve your best.

No doubt the toughest and best job of all is being a parent. "Mother" is easily the most revered word in the human language. It's an identity that is universally understood, yet interpreted uniquely by every woman who inhabits it. And regardless of whatever other responsibilities or aspirations we have in life, most of us would agree that nothing matters as much. But that passion, and the overwhelming love that drives it, can be dangerous if you don't know how to handle the hairpin curves and switchbacks that mark this road. Like any adventure, motherhood can be thrilling, and it can also be harrowing. No wonder we all occasionally lose sight of where we're going. It's time to pull over, cut the engine, and reconsider the road map you've been using. We've allowed social pressure, popular media, and our own insecurities to manipulate us into believing that "selfless" is the ultimate seal of approval for any mother. Check out that word again, and consider what it really means: the absence of self. That cannot possibly be a good thing, unless you plan to trade your sweats for sackcloth and go live alone on a very tall mountain for a very long time. Spare yourself the angst and altitude sickness, and strive for something more attainable and empowering: self-awareness.

Naked Mom

I found that on live TV, of all places. I never expected that being a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars would prove to be a turning point in my life, but it absolutely was. For the first time ever, I didn't believe in myself. I wanted more than anything to give up and limp away, but the love and support of my family pushed me forward, and I learned how to check in with myself, truly count on a partner, and to commit wholeheartedly to the challenge at hand.

We all know that good communication is at the core of any successful relationship, whether it's a business partnership, a romance, or the bond between mother and child. Knowing this and actually putting it into practice are two different things, of course. I remember too well the evening that I overheard my ten-year-old screaming something nasty at her younger sister. I was about to march in and ground her on the spot, when I suddenly realized something that made me literally stop in my tracks: She was imitating what she had learned from me. Like plenty of moms out there, I've been known to verbally lash out sometimes in moments of frustration and stress. Ashamed as I was to recognize my own bad behavior in my daughter, it did serve as a good reminder: Our kids hear everything, and they remember it, and it sticks. That night, I thought about my daughter's behavior for a while, then decided to talk to her about it. Our chat—and the effort I made to genuinely connect with her, instead of merely reacting to her—produced better results than knee-jerk punishment would have (which isn't to downplay the value of a well-earned time-out or grounding!). That day when I heard my own words from my daughter's mouth, I understood how ugly I sometimes sound. But I also realized that just stepping back and "checking in" with each other is vital when you're determined to give your heart without losing your mind. It's a technique I've been practicing in the "real world" as well as Mommyville, and it really does work.

Naked Mom

Being a mother means having to learn the different, unique language of each member of your family, and to communicate with compassion. What motivates one child may crush another. We also have to learn how to receive messages as clearly as we send them. Having a blended family and shared custody with my ex-husband makes that even more challenging, and I have to remember to step back and just breathe sometimes, or the domino effect of an ill-considered remark or action can be devastating. My oldest daughter and I have started keeping a shared journal, and the insights for both of us have been amazing.

Most women give up a lot to become mothers, and the lover always seems to be the first part of a mom's identity to go AWOL. Does the libido always have to take one for the team? My answer is a definitive "No!" Sexuality and motherhood are not mutually exclusive. Many of the same traits that make you amazing as a mom make you amazing as a lover, as well: generosity, playfulness, devotion, patience, imagination, and intuition are just a few that come to mind. I think feeling sexy and sexual is a state of mind. Letting our erotic fantasies play out gives us a needed break from the give, give, give nature of motherhood. Behind many a sweet, wholesome mom, me included, there is a feral woman. A carnal self, a sort of secret slut. She is you, unfiltered, unedited, unapologetic.

Learning how to set a mood, play out a fantasy, and reconnect with your mate are ways to reclaim yourself as a lover. I'm happy to reveal some of my secrets in steamy detail, from the most outrageous place I've ever done it to my favorites list of erotic literature, hottest movie scenes, sexiest songs, and trustiest aphrodisiacs.

Chaos is such a mainstay in my life, I'm surprised it doesn't appear on my driver's license as my permanent state of residence.

Naked Mom

We've all had these mornings: You wake up to discover that the ants have reclaimed the kitchen counter, your laptop and cell phone have carried out a suicide pact overnight, your mate has just remembered that he invited six vegans over for an important business lunch on Saturday, the baby kept you up all night but you need to be perky and on for a big meeting at the office, and your seven-year-old wants to know the facts of life right this minute. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking we can be Supermom if we just had more time or energy. How often do we lie in bed at night taking mental stock of everything we didn't get accomplished that day, and adding it onto the next day's to-do list? The pace of our lives is already fast and furious; increasing the tempo is just going to make you more exhausted, not more efficient. We know from experience that the demands of raising a family change continually and sometimes dramatically. Needs are never synchronized, and trying to be everything to everyone all the time leaves no one—including you—satisfied. That's especially true if, like me, you're one of the millions of American moms trying to rebuild a family from the ruins of divorce. The painful knowledge that I'm the one who wreaked this havoc doesn't make it easier to contain. But facing the toughest challenge of my life has taught me an elemental truth: You may not be able to choreograph chaos, but you can dance through it with something resembling grace. Finding your own rhythm means living inside each moment of your life, and learning how to tune out the noise so you can hear the music.

My purpose here isn't to suggest that I have all the answers—far from it. But I have had plenty of trial and error, under circumstances both ordinary and extraordinary. I hope that this book makes people laugh, because I certainly laugh at myself even in my most stressful situations. You have to keep dancing even when life seems to be getting the best of you.

And when I'm really lost, or frustrated, when I'm sick, or deflated, or feeling small and lonely, my own mom is still the one I run to. Her love fortifies me, and I strive to build that kind of bond now with my four children, so they might someday feel as blessed as I do. Mom is my ultimate superhero, the woman who made me want to be a mother, whose gift of unconditional love gave me the faith and courage to raise a family of my own.

Naked Mom

If there is one gift I could wrap up prettily and hand to every woman on the planet, it would have to be confidence. Much as I would like to, I know I can't simply give you that. But maybe, by giving you my truth, you'll be able to find your own.

Check out other books from the "GMA" Library

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...