Amy Grant: “I Don’t Know If I Do Balance It All”

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Amy Grant has sure had a busy spring season! She recently partnered with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and did a PSA for them focusing on the need to be prepared when making tough family decisions.  The mom-of-five also has a new album coming out soon!

Amy opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about the life lessons she’s learned while taking care of her dementia-stricken father. She also shares what her five children are up to, what to expect on her new album, and why her hubby, Vince Gill, is a great father!

CBS: Tell us about your partnership with the NAIC. What is the organization all about and what inspired you to join forces?

AG: “Every state has an insurance commissioner, and the NAIC is about helping us understand how we can best protect ourselves with insurance. The NAIC doesn’t sell insurance; it’s an organization that helps consumers figure out what’s available, what policies they currently have, and what those policies apply to. I wanted to partner with the NAIC because at the end of my parents’ lives, they were so much financial responsibility. My mom died at the end of April, but my dad is still alive and needs around-the-clock care.

My parents did such a great job with their financial planning, that my sisters and I did not have the pressure of having to figure out how to come up with the resources to take care of them. However, my parents made me think, ‘Oh my gosh, I have five children! What am I doing to prepare?’ The NAIC approached me to see if I would help bring awareness to the fact that there is an organization that helps people understand what they have or what they need. It’s a great thing. A lot of my friends are starting to confront the same kinds of issues with their parents, or they haven’t really planned for their own lives and are like, ‘Oh my gosh!'” [laughs]

CBS: You recently filmed a PSA for the NAIC as well.  Please share the main message you hope viewers will take away from it. 

AG: “I’ve only seen the PSA once, but it focuses on what’s the best way of loving and caring for your family. The two great things my parents did for me were pay for my education and make sure they were covered in their old age. With all the baby stores like Babies “R” Us, I feel like my generation is so into micro-managing our children’s younger years, but I think that the bigger gift we can give them is taking care of ourselves.”

CBS: Your father is currently battling dementia. What life lessons have you learned from taking care of him?

AG: “Oh my goodness, I have learned so many things. My dad is still alive and he was a brilliant radiation oncologist. He spent his whole career treating people with cancer. He practiced medicine in a really exciting time, because during that time, the cancer cure rate went from about 5% to almost 95% with early detection. My dad’s dementia and inability to have conversation made me realize that there are different ways to show love and respect to someone.

My dad is such an incredible man. He’s so changed now, but taking care of him now makes me want to go up to other older people and have a conversation with them. I don’t care if they speak nonsense back. When little kids say ‘Mama’ or ‘Daddy,’ we get so excited when they connect. An older person with dementia still wants to connect. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that no matter how compromised people are because of the way they are aging, they still don’t want to be alone.”

CBS: Tell us about your children. What are their names and ages, and what are they into? 

AG: “I have a blended family. My husband’s first wife is the mother of my 31-year-old daughter Jenny, who is a great singer and songwriter. She has been married for three years now, and she’s currently working on her first recording. She’s been touring with me for the last two years. My 25-year-old son Matt is in college; he took his time getting there. He is in an engineering program, double majoring in engineering and applied mathematics. I think he wants to be a rocket scientist or something like that. Good reason to clear your legal records. [laughs]

My daughter Millie is 23 years old and graduated from college. She now works for Pearson Publishing in New York. My twenty-year-old daughter Sarah is a sophomore at a new school in Manhattan. I also have a twelve-year-old daughter named Corinna, who is in sixth grade and loves to sing. We all just enjoy life, hanging out, and music. My son loves anything outdoors, such as kayaking, slacklining, and target practice.”  

CBS: You have a new album coming out soon.  Please give us the scoop! 

AG: “It’s the first record I’ve done in ten years that contains all new songs. I wrote or co-wrote all fo the songs but one. Every song comes from a real life experience or conversation. There is so much that has happened, so I’ve had a crazy amount of stuff to write about. I also have a lot of special guests on the record, such as James Taylor, Carole King, Sheryl Crow, Will Hoge, and an up-and-coming country artist named Eric Paslay, whose first record is about to come out. My husband Vince Gill is also on the record. I think it’s maybe the best record I’ve ever made.” 

CBS: You have a lot going on.  How do you balance it all?  Can women really have it all?

AG: “I don’t know if I do balance it all. In my line of work, everything happens in waves. Promotion is the hardest, because it is so crazy and hectic. There is a certain rhythm to touring, songwriting, and everything else. It’s all about simplifying your schedule so you have enough time to sit around and think. When I am stressed out, I enjoy cooking and gardening. Each day this spring, I am trying to have a short amount of time I call my “retreat.” I love riding bikes and I also swim every day that I can. When you’re in water, you move around differently and you feel like a kid again. I try not to speed through life. Instead, I try to take time for myself every day. The only way that is possible is by giving some things up. Over the last five years, I’ve made a concerted effort to simplify everything.

I don’t think anyone can have it all in life, but we do have the freedom to choose. You might not be able to choose your exact life circumstances, but you have the freedom to choose your response to them. I am the most stressed out when I have too many commitments on my plate or when I feel like I don’t get to exercise any of my own choices. That is the most important time to say to yourself, ‘Just breathe. You have the freedom to choose how you react to what’s in front of you.’ This could apply to how you respond to the relationship you’re in or something you’re looking forward to. Even in the worst situation, the freedom to respond however you want is a choice for everybody.

In WWII, the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was brought to a prison camp to talk to the people, because the suicide rate was so high, He said, ‘A lot of you are in a meaningful relationship and there is value to what you’re looking forward to. You have a reason to live.’ It’s all about meaningful relationships and always having something you’re looking forward to.”

CBS: What did you do for Mother’s Day? What does Mother’s Day mean to you? What have been some of your favorite Mother’s Day gifts?

AG: “The day before Mother’s Day, I flew back into town and sang in Houston. I took an early flight and it was a pretty day, so I sat outside and didn’t do much of anything. That felt nice. Then I took another flight that night to New York so I could go to work on Monday. In the downtime, I had a nice beverage and just allowed myself to be. I thought about my kids and soaked in a lot of great memories.

To me, Mother’s Day is a time to contemplate the experience of being a mom and appreciate the fact that you have a mom or survive a wonderful mother. I had a lot of really amazing women who helped me get a great toolkit for life. For those women who are still round, I make an effort to say, ‘Thank you.’

I’ve had some great Mother’s Day gifts. When my kids were really little, they painted a birdhouse for me. Another year, they set up a picnic in our tree house with the help of a friend of mine. I loved that. We have a really charming tree house that everyone has outgrown. Sometimes the kids do nothing for Mother’s Day, and that’s fine too. I just like to hear everyone’s voice on Mother’s Day. That’s all I really want. One day for Mother’s Day, my husband went out in the yard, cut some flowers, and put them in a vase next to my bed and they were there when I woke up. It was a really sweet gift.”

CBS: We can’t leave out a question about dad.  What makes your hubby, Vince Gill, a great dad?

AG: “He is good at lightening the mood. He enjoys teasing, and I think that’s a good thing. He’s not my dad, so I have to look at him. I can do ‘What makes him a good husband?’ [laughs] I’ll tell you what makes him a good stepfather. He has three stepchildren and he gave them all their space and didn’t pretend like he was their choice. He was their mommy’s choice, and slowly over the years they grew to love him.”

CBS: Summer is around the corner, what are some of your favorite family activities when your youngest is out of school?

AG: “We love sleeping in late and cooking. We have some pretty monstrous wrecks in the kitchen, because it is the hub of the house. When you start cooking something or baking, everybody comes in and one thing leads to the next and you plan something fun. We also love playing cards and ping pong. We always have a ping pong table set up, as it’s a great way to get your heart racing for ten minutes. We also go camping every summer and I really enjoy that. Even though a lot of the kids are grown, we still try doing things that are fun and we say, ‘Join us if you can!’”

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