Today I am very pleased to interview Jenn Doucette, a very funny lady and the author of the recently published “Mama Said Thereíd Be Days Like This: Refreshing Rest Stops for Moms on the Run.” She talks about herself, her books, and duct tape. Women – even your husbands would enjoy this!
But first, I want to tell you that you’ll enjoy this book. Jenn Doucette’s “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This” is written for moms on the Go – Moms in need of a rest stop to recuperate, refuel, and reconnect.
With humor and insight Jenn Doucette looks at her own life and examines from all sides the frustrations and challenging incidents that every mom shares and provides practical and spiritual advice for slowing down, de-stressing and re-focusing in order to stay refreshed and find contentment in life.
Jenn is also founder of D.A.I.S.Y Ministries, “a vehicle to reach other women in need of a laugh, a hug, and some Spiritual encouragement. ”
Now, here’s Jenn Doucette!
Jenn, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer?
I live in the Northwest with my husband, Ben, and our three kiddos (J.J., Katie, and Emma). Among other things, I love comedy, good food, learning how to play the guitar, and alternative Christian rock bands (Jars of Clay, Mercy Me, Third Day, Casting Crowns, Newsboys). Iím a cat person, a LOST fan, and a follower of Jesus Christ. Iím a proud owner of two cats, one chicken, and a Beta fish named Gary.
And I am a writer.
Looking back, I believe my writing adventure began in first grade – the same year I discovered The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Gertrude Chandler Warner, Jane Eyre (yep, thatís correct), and Alfred Hitchcock. Sure, playing with dolls was still fun; riding bikes continued to be a big part of my kid routine; but words and books plunked themselves down as #1 on “My favorite Things” list and havenít budged since.
It didnít take too long, really, before I became a book junkie. Thankfully, the bookmobile made regular stops on our street, just long enough to give me a “quick fix,” to keep my imagination placated until the next trip to the library.
In 2003, after nearly three decades of fanatical reading and a year of wrestling with God about His calling for my life, I decided to become a writer. It was my hope to create a piece of work that would inspire others with hope and humor. Soon after this decision, an old friend contacted me; he turned out to be a literary agent.
I sent him some very rough stuff.
He liked it.
Sold it to NavPress publishing
And I became a published author.
In your new book, “Mama Said Thereíd Be Days Like This: Refreshing Rest Stops for Moms on the Run” you gave each chapter title with one form or another of the word “Go,” and in the introduction to your book you liken Moms to the Gingerbread Man, just one step ahead and always running as fast as they can so as not to be caught from behind by all the responsibilities of motherhood. Can you tell us what led you to characterize a Moms life this way? What are some of the dangers that this presents to Moms? How will your book help Moms find the break they need?
After giving birth three times in four years, I remember romanticizing the stage following the tumultuous toddler years. No more diapers! No more car seats! No more cutting up grapes or searching through sheets for a lost pacifier!
I believe I was giddy with naivetť.
Because once I finally arrived at the school-age stage, or what I call The Busy Stage, diapers became replaced with gym socks; car seats became replaced with neverending homework projects, grapes were replaced with orthodontic appointments and lost pacifiers with after-school activities.
The giddiness quickly wore off.
And I realized I wasnít alone. And being the avid reader I am, I remember reading The Gingerbread Man out loud to my kids one time and cracking up. “This is me!” I chortled, pointing to the little brown cookie running away from the policeman, the butcher, plumber, the man, the woman, and the dog. It was right then that I knew Iíd found a great theme for a book: Refreshing Rest Stops for Moms on the Run.
I think the dangers in continuing to live an “on the go” existence are the risk of missing our kidsí childhoods, missing out on the relational aspect of parenting; I also believe moms on the go are prime candidates for burnout. If we donít get the rest we need, weíre more prone to just keep on running. Divorce, abandonment, and suicide are the extreme possibilities for moms who have been sucked dry by their care-giving responsibilities.
How will my book help? Well, hopefully it will make Ďem laugh. Pooped out moms need to laugh. My book also gives examples of mistakes Iíve made (oye), suggestions I have for improvement, as well as humorous examples of mom blunders. I believe my book can help, because Iím like all the other moms out there – and every mom needs to know sheís not alone.
In your first chapter you emphasize every Momís essential need for girlfriend time – a point that my wife really agreed with, and when we were discussing this point together she made it reeaally clear to me that it is really, really, reeeeaaaaallllllly important. Ok. So, since it has now been irrefutably established as fact, can you tell us why it is necessary? What about a Mom who doesnít have that girlfriend network to turn to? What can she do to find or create her own sisterhood of the go-go moms so she can get that girlfriend
Girlfriend time is vital because women and men are different. Duh, I know. But the fact is, women understand women in ways the men in our lives will NEVER understand us. Itís not enough to be loved, appreciated, and respected. We need to feel understood by someone. And itís reassuring to hear how others may be struggling with similar issues, or to hear how others have successfully maneuvered through a tricky parenting situation. Our girlfriends cheer us on, they make us smile, they listen to us cry, and they love us through it all.
Unfortunately, not everyone has friends like that. My response to that? Iíll quote Woody from Toy Story: “If you donít have one – get one!” This is definitely easier said than done.
Here are some ideas for getting connected with fellow girlfriends:
MOPS groups – (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) These groups can be found all across the United States. They primarily meet in churches, and provide childcare. MOPS groups tend to meet every other week and offer guest speakers, crafts, parenting suggestions, and a wonderful opportunity to network and socialize.
Online chat groups or blogging loops – be careful, this can be risky and you have to be smart. Here are a couple online groups to check out: http://www.frugalmom.net/
http://www.shoutlife.com/ (this is a Christian alternative to myspace.com)
Get involved with a local church
Join a local scrapbook group, a health club, or book club
Get to know your neighbors or your kidsí friendsí parents
Where did you get the idea to include the little activities in the “Getting Directions” section at the end of each chapter? I really liked how you structured these sections. The first question is something simple and funny – like bait drawing them into the next questions. Then, its like you sneak up on your reader and suddenly they realize youíve dropped something very practical, meaningful and easily done right into their lap that can make that rest stop happen for them. And the best part is, its something that the reader wants, because really your questions act as sparks to generate plans of their own.
Book clubs are kind of the rage right now and I wanted to format my book so that if groups wanted to use it in their book club, theyíd have ready-made questions from the get-go.
Iíve spoken to a number of MOPS womenís groups and they always ask me to bring in a short set of discussion questions to get women sharing with one another. The idea is to bring them to the table in a non-threatening way, to let them laugh with one another before they get to some of the deeper issues. I donít want them to feel tricked though ! If they opt out of the more soul searching questions, then theyíve at least contributed to the lighter ones. I want to be sensitive to those women who find it difficult to share in a group (I can SO NOT relate, but I know those sweeties are out there), and to let them know theyíre still valuable, that their input is important.
Bottom line? I love my audiences and I love my readers and I want them to feel safe with me.
You put your Christian faith right out there in the open and each chapter of your book emphasizes an appropriate passage from the Bible to meditate on. Can you talk about the role your faith has played in your life?
A big part, baby. Jesus has been in my life for as long as I can remember. Heís been a very real, integral part of every major decision in my life. Iíve seen him work miracles of the heart, miracles of the body, and miracles of the soul. Heís humbled me, changed me, forgiven me, and molded me.
Without him I would cease to exist.
Although I never went through a typical “rebellious stage” as a teen, I did go through a very dogmatic, judgmental stage; I thought I knew all the answers and condemned those who didnít share them with me.
But God intervened and showed me that He alone has all the answers. My job as His child is not to coerce, convince, or correct others. Rather, He wants me to believe Him, trust Him, love Him, listen to Him, and gently introduce others to Him. He asks me to pray for others and to let Him be their Savior, not me.
You share a lot of your personal life in this book. I think that your humorous perspective on your own life makes your message in this book so effective. Is it hard for you to be this frank and personal in your writing?
Strangely enough, no. My biggest strength is my biggest weakness: candid, blunt, openness. Thankfully, that openness has been softened by God over the years. I want to be a woman of integrity, of truth, and of humility. Iíve goofed up too many times to be otherwise.
Can you tell us a little about your previous book, “The Velveteen Mommy?”
In The “Velveteen Mommy” I address the wear and tear we face as mothers: emotionally, physically, socially, etc. I share funny stories and then liken my mommy experiences to characters in the Bible, other individuals who are perfection-challenged. Heh heh. Seriously, every man, woman, and child who God called to do great things for Him had their share of faults and foibles, of wear and tear.
And motherhood is no different. God can and does reach, teach, and transform us through the holy calling of parenting. I love Him for that.
What are you currently up to? Is there anything else for your readers to look forward to?
Glad you asked! Iím working on my first work of fiction . . . Iím not really a nonfiction kind of girl, Iím more inclined to get wrapped up in a good novel. So hereís my first attempt. Iím about half-way through and will be bringing a portion of it to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in a few weeks to get critiqued, edited, and essentially torn apart. Itíll be great.
Hereís a sneak peek:
Mission-bound Mia Tredway becomes the unwelcome beneficiary of a deceased clientís millions. And her kids. While she navigates through instant motherhood, Mia must decide whether to sacrifice the wilds of Africa for the wilds of the upper class. The thing is, why would God give her such a love for the African people and a willingness to sacrifice the material comforts of America, if His plan involved sending her to live among the spoiled, rich, and famous?
One last question. You have lots of great quotes to lead off each chapter, but my favorite is from Chapter 6. Since itís about duct tape and Iím a guy, itís really easy for me to get wrapped up in that topic. In that chapter you point out several of itís surprisingly many mom-friendly uses. What I want to know is, do you use the huge gray rolls or do you buy the smaller multi-packs with the designer colors that the better home improvement centers carry? Do you think that this would be a good gift for my wife on Motherís Day or would it be better for our anniversary?
LOL – hilarious! I know better than to buy my own roll of duct tape. It would disappear within moments of moving into my office. So I steal snippets of it from my hubby when Iím in need.
Go with the colored rolls on Mothersí Day. Anniversary is sacrosanct for romancy stuff like jewelry, flowers, and cruises.