You’ll never catch Eva LaRue pretending that it’s easy to balance work and family. “Any mom who tells you that she does it effortlessly is not telling the truth,” the 42-year-old CSI: Miami star tells Babble. “You feel like you’re never quite doing enough or giving 100 percent to one or the other.”
The key to getting through the day unscathed, says the mom to 7 ½-year-old Kaya McKenna, is learning how to “pick your spots” to shine. “Something is always going to slide,” she notes,
“If it’s a really important episode, you give 100 percent of your attention to the episode and if it’s not, then you’re giving 110 percent to your kid and your life and the rest of your family.”
Learning to forgive yourself when your best efforts fail is an important step, too. “If there’s one piece of valuable information I wish I had in the beginning, it’s this — allow yourself the guilt,” Eva says. “It’s okay, there’s no way around it.” Lastly, don’t compare yourself to others because looks can be deceiving! “There are people that look like they’re doing it brilliantly and maybe they are, but maybe they just look like that from the outside,” Eva points out. “Unfortunately if you measure yourself up against other people that look like they’re doing it well, you’re never going to feel like you’re doing okay.”
The single biggest challenge of motherhood thus far, Eva says, is being a single mom! Her engagement to businessman Joe Cappuccio recently ended, which was particularly tough on Kaya who had grown “very attached” to mom’s former fiancé. “I really didn’t know how to walk her through the break-up,” Eva concedes. “She didn’t get a say in that and yet she was pretty heart-broken.”
“When someone gradually leaves your life, that’s one thing because you get used to the end of it. When somebody disappears, it takes all of your control away. It leaves you frantic and that break-up left her in a frantic space because she had no control over it.”
Click below to read about how, at Eva’s urging, Joe gave Kaya the power back.
Joe, himself, played a big part in helping Kaya move on however. “I really lobbied for him a few months later to make contact with Kaya,” Eva recalls. “He was great about it and the thing is, it really changed her.” Instead of feeling as though she was cut off from Joe without a say-so, Eva says her daughter was once again defining the relationship on her terms.
“It put her back in the power position of saying “I’ll call him when I want to and he’ll talk to me and say he misses me and we’ll have a conversation that doesn’t include Mama at all,'” Eva explains. “As soon as she was able to have those conversations whenever she wanted to, she didn’t want to anymore.”
“She controlled the situation again. A lot of my friends were against that. A lot of them said she’ll just get over it but she really wasn’t and she really needed to get closure herself.”
Throughout the process — and throughout her divorce from Kaya’s dad, actor John Callahan — Eva says she made a point to stay above the fray. “When people do that, they’re not hurting the ex, they’re just hurting the child,” she notes. “I want her to always think well of the people that are in her life and the people that she’s chosen to love.” To do otherwise sends a confusing message to Kaya — that the people she’s chosen to love are “not good.”
The truth hurts sometimes, however, and Eva admits that she withheld it from Kaya in this instance. “Some people said that I should have just told her the truth, but why? To what end? What does that gain except for more confusion on her part?” Eva asks. “I thought that she would feel less hurt and less abandoned to know that he still loved us and was equally heartbroken that he couldn’t be with us.”
“I told her that he couldn’t be in our life anymore because he needed to move away for work and that it was upsetting and heartbreaking but that was the situation. I didn’t know how to explain what was happening. It was too adult.”
While Eva has moved on — she’s been dating a single dad-of-two for about five months — she says she’s trying to keep their lives “more separate” to avoid making the same mistakes. “She knows him and we spend time together with all the kids playing and hanging out and stuff, but it’s a friendlier relationship where there’s no chance of getting super attached to anyone,” she explains.
“I have a rule of thumb now and that’s that somebody has to have been married and they have to have had kids. Everything boils down to perspective. If your potential mate does not have the same perspective that you do then you’re going to be lost.”
Noting that “if somebody has never been married, they don’t know compromise” and that “if they don’t have children, they don’t know the absolute self-sacrifice it takes and what it means to be a parent,” Eva says she’s been looking for a kindred spirit. “Their perspective would not be the same as my perspective and it’s just too vast a difference,” she adds.
She’s also been looking more and more to her Baha’i faith for her own spiritual growth, and for Kaya’s. “I want to make sure she knows what charity is,” Eva explains. “Whatever money she gets, she puts some of it in our family’s donation jar we give away at Christmas time every year.”
Mother and daughter also deliver dinner to a shelter for battered women once each month. “I think that’s good for her, because I want her to learn that we need to take care of other people who are not able to take care of themselves,” Eva says, adding: “Charity should always be a constant.”
“It’s not just ‘Oh, let’s show up to a charitable event.’ Which of course there’s tons of when you’re a celebrity. You show up and you walk a red carpet, but to me that’s not necessarily giving back. I think that if you start teaching about giving back and helping other people young, that will be a given for your child their whole life. That’s what I really want for Kaya.”