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Meet Kali Parsons   

by Jennifer Marine

Don’t let the chipper, wholesome count- enance of Kali Parsons fool you.  This stay- at-home mom has a few surprises with a bite in store. Mother to seven-year-old Benjamin and three-year-old Nicholas, Kali once had aspirations for a career in Criminal Law -- it was her main course of study in college, and she did an internship with the Travis County probation program. Ultimately, she decided a career in criminal law wasn’t for her and instead, channeled her knowledge of the field into writing a thriller. But with a then six- month-old Benjamin in tow, she found the violence inherent in the novel disturbing and uncomfortable. “Ever since I had kids, I can’t handle the violence. I can’t stand seeing kids hurt in stories anymore,” she explains.

Kali was born Monique Parsons in Palo Alto, California, while both of her parents were attending Stanford studying for doctorates. At three, her mother introduced her to some- one, and Kali said, “No, that’s not my name. My name is Kali!”  From that point on, she refused to respond to the name Monique, and Kali it was. Her family moved to Austin in 1969 so her father could teach physics at UT, and she’s lived here ever since.

Kali admits that important aspects of life changed dramatically for her once she'd had kids. Being pregnant caused an automatic switch -- she saw how her life affected others, as opposed to being concerned with mainly herself. Now her life revolves in many ways around taking care of her children, even if it seems like what’s she’s doing has nothing to do with them. “Even if I’m just taking a break, it ultimately helps me be a better mom....” When Nicholas starts school, she plans to  return to writing, and already has several outlines started for different stories.

Her commitment to her children is unwaver- ing, but being a mom didn’t completely come naturally -- she was never a kid person, and still isn’t, although love for her friends’ children is easy. “I feels like parenthood is a total crash course. My biggest challenge is seeing myself in my son who seems most like me, as far as the most difficult aspects of myself and personality traits. I want to help him head off problems I faced, and say don’t do that, but then I don’t necessarily follow the advice I give him either!”

Female friendships also have come to the fore recently. Some years back, she realized she had a lack of support and camaraderie in her life, and something shifted in her. She made the effort to create more friendships and is in a “really good space right now.” This support system has helped her weather the storms that accompany any life, and internal com- parisons to fantasies about sparkling finances and an absolutely perfect partner- ship. “Sometimes I’m totally aware of how blessed I am, and at other times, ha, depend- ing on my cycle, I fall into a funk that has everything to do with shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Kali remarks that she doesn’t “necessarily feel powerful on a global level”, but is doing her part to live a good life and raise happy kids (both born at home with midwives) without putting a lot of pressure on them to be perfect, and the stress that goes along with that. She deliberately tries not to cultivate the mindset that permeated her upbringing: that accomplishments make the person, not the other way around.

People that first meet her might be surprised to know she used to regularly shave her head, raised pet rats and pierced her own nose at 17. Her friends might be surprised to know that she automatically feels that the cup is half empty, but as she doesn’t want to burden anyone, frequently strives to act like things are better, then finds that they actually start to feel that way. She’s passionate about keeping fit and believes that regular exercise and activity help her remain sane.

Kali has big dreams of performing in some way, related to acting, dancing, or writing. She believes the best way to go about it is to slowly inch her way into it -- to work behind the scenes -- actively resisting the part of her that wants to step into a performance with total perfection. She keeps pushing herself, putting herself out there, like with her belly dancing, which she’s been doing for two years. She leaves belly dancing class feeling “charged up, at one with my body, fully present, really happy!”

She’d also like to try her hand at a short documentary, and is planning to put together an instructional video to learn more about video editing. Kali's husband David is sup- portive of her efforts to learn something new and to produce her own work, and he's offered to help teach her. “He’s my number one reader and my most important critic -- my meter, as I think I am with him and new songs he writes and sings.” They own and run Media Systems, a successful audio-visual production and rental company, where Kali manages the financial aspects of the business.

She’s always been grateful that they are so consistent when it comes to parental values; conflicts are rare about how to raise the kids -- they are a unified force, a team. “There is no discrepancy -- we are so close in approach that it’s easy to bend towards one another. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary, and seem to get closer and more comfortable with each other. We’re learning again how to have more fun with each other, how to just go out and have a good time.”

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The Countess Galleria / Sarah Higdon

Here's more from Kali:

Who inspired you when you were growing up and why?

My maternal grandmother, Nana, was my greatest inspiration. I can remember her coming home from an event all dressed up to the nines and then trading in her duds for comfortable pants, a shirt, and sneakers so she could go out with me in her back yard and make mud pies behind the bushes. She was my own personal Mr. Rogers, always eager to play with me on my level. For the last few years of her life she vigorously battled cancer. She came up with the most creative ways of playing with my brother and me while she lay in the hospital bed in her bedroom. We'd make little creatures called "Wump Wumps" out of paper, and do ela- borate plays. My brother and I never felt slighted in any way and always knew we were her top priority. She was amazing and has inspired me to be a better person.

You are face to face with your ten-year-old self. You have one thing to say to her about her future, what do you say?

Don't take life so seriously. Try new things and don't worry about what other people will think. Sometimes things worth doing are worth doing even if you don't do them well. Give yourself permission to not be perfect.

What is the biggest contradiction you see mothers being faced with today?

The difference between what mother's expect themselves to be able to do and what they are realistically capable of accomplishing while retaining their sanity. I think so many of us run around frazzled and feeling guilty for not living up to some imaginary standard. We should just have a mass confession and see that we're all pretty much in the same state and just let all that guilt go.
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What do you see as your biggest challenge in being the kind of person you want to be?

I am most definitely my own greatest obstacle to being who I really want to be. I'd love to be a performer of some sort but I get wrapped up in feeling like I'd have to do it really well for it to be worth doing. I have plenty of patience and appreciation for others in their creative endeavors and value effort rather than end result. I owe myself the same. I need to take to heart the advice I'd give my ten-year-old self.

What makes you most happy about what you give back to the world?

I get so much pleasure when I see my children being kind. I feel like I'm playing a major role in the character development of two really wonderful boys. They are definitely my greatest gift to this world. I love knowing that I'm adding to the nice people population.

What two notable people would you like to see handcuffed together for a day?

Tipper Gore and Jello Biafra

What do you wish you could automatically grant, like a fairy godmother, to mothers during trying times?

The ability to look at our children with the same unconditional and unlimited love and appreciation with which we did when they were newborns. Oh, yeah, and extra sleep and an unlimited stash of dark chocolate.

Thanks, Kali!
The Parsons' company, Media Systems, creates corporate videos, commercials and wedding videos, and offers a complete line of A/V rental equipment for seminars and conventions.

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