- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All moms, no matter how rich and famous, have the same issues, says supermodel-turned-mogul Kathy Ireland.

She should know. Miss Ireland is a mother of three and chief executive officer of a $1.4 billion company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide. The Kathy Ireland brand is on all kinds of home furnishings, from candles to carpet.

In addition to designing most of the wares, Miss Ireland, like moms everywhere, is scheduling and driving, trying to keep her children safe online, concerned for their health and future and trying to ensure that they grow up in a happy home.

“The mission of our company is ‘finding solutions for busy moms,’ ” Miss Ireland says from her California office. “Absolutely all moms are the same.”

OK, so maybe Miss Ireland isn’t quite as worried about paying the mortgage as some parents. She is talking about fundamentals in her new book, “Real Solutions for Busy Moms: Your Guide to Success & Sanity.” Hundreds of women have e-mailed Miss Ireland seeking advice, and she has collected and published her answers.

“I communicate with moms every day, and they aren’t coming to me for a beauty tip,” says Miss Ireland, who was featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue 13 times — including three covers — in the 1980s and ‘90s. “They tell me they are balancing the responsibilities of marriage, raising children, managing a household or a career or both, and finding time to take care of themselves.

“I still work on these answers every day,” Miss Ireland says. “Life and motherhood are challenging and sometimes scary. As moms, our responsibility to our families is to feel our fear, walk through it and do our best.”

Miss Ireland says faith plays a big part in guiding her.

“I would be a complete disaster without it,” she says. “For me, it is everything.”

She writes in the book about how she became a Christian when she was 18 and on a modeling assignment in France. Miss Ireland recalls how she picked up a Bible “out of boredom, jet lag and loneliness.”

“It really transformed my life,” she says. “I knew I was holding the truth in my hands. A living faith in God is more than believing in Him and going to church. It is an ongoing relationship that takes time.”

Miss Ireland says faith guides her actions when it comes to her children, ages 15, 10 and 6.

“It is exciting to see God in their lives,” she says.

One of the concerns Miss Ireland and her husband, a physician, have for their children is the avalanche of media messages, from cyberbullying to suggestive advertising to violent movies and music.

“On TV, in magazines, on the Internet, even on highway signs, the average child is bombarded with hundreds of messages each day that encourage him to move in a direction that most parents would not approve,” Miss Ireland writes in her book. “It might be a TV ad that implies they’ll fit [in] only if they wear the right jeans, or a movie that portrays violence as the solution to every problem. I regret that a few times in my modeling career, I may have contributed to those messages. Today, as an older and wiser mom, there are a few photo shoots I wish I’d passed on. When you know better, you do better.”

Miss Ireland helps promote a Web site and an organization aimed at Internet safety. Tangle.com is a faith-based social networking site where children and teens can post blogs, view videos and otherwise communicate in an environment that contains appropriate material. She also supports the Virginia-based Safe Surfin’ Foundation, which provides awareness and education about Internet predators.

“We live in an age of technology,” Miss Ireland says. “You can do every safety precaution in your home, but kids are going to be in other homes. We’ve got to educate and do everything in our power to keep them safe.”

Miss Ireland credits education for another recent change in her life. She says she has always been a passionate supporter of women’s rights, but she recently changed her views on abortion.

“I was pro-choice,” she says. “It wasn’t something I would ever choose for myself, but I felt, ‘Who am I to tell a woman what to do with her body?’ ”

Miss Ireland says her approach is now based on science, not faith.

“You can be an atheist and know it is not OK to take a life,” she says. “I dove into the medical books. I said, ‘Please show me some evidence that an unborn baby is not a human being.’ But there wasn’t any. I read everything I could get my hands on. I called Planned Parenthood. I talked to my pro-choice friends. Nothing.

“The moment life begins, there is a blueprint for DNA,” she says. “It is so sad this has become a political issue. I don’t talk about this that much in the book, but throughout the book I say we have got to pull our heads out of the sand and face the tough stuff. Does it mean I will stop fighting for the rights of women? No! Some people assume because I am pro-life I am anti-woman, but that could not be farther from the truth.”

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