Friday, 27 November 2020

I Interviews

Interview: Ann Van De Water

John Lennon is credited with lamenting, “Nobody told me there would be days like these.” If this were to apply to any experience in life, it successfully describes motherhood. First time moms walk around in a perpetual daze, even while armed with seasoned advice. Some adventures in life just need to be lived to be understood, but it helps if you can live vicariously through the experiences and advice of another-especially as it relates to parenthood. Author Ann Van De Water has it covered. “I know that we all have our own burdens to bear, our own adventures to undertake. However, it makes it so much easier when you know there’s someone a few steps ahead that can relate, who has walked the path before you and is willing to share what her life as a mom was all about. Let’s open our hearts to walk beside each other as we do this mothering thing.”


If What to Expect When You Are Expecting is the manual for pregnancy, Mommy Memoirs is the manual for life after birth. Ann takes the reader on her journey from the beginning, (the meeting of her Obstetrician) to the culmination of motherhood, (empty nesting) in her new release. It’s not for the faint hearted, though. She is straight up honest about the good, the bad and the ugly, but presents her experiences in her signature entertaining, humorous, nurturing style. Whether the reader is a first time, soon-to-be mom or one that has battle scars from the journey, they will be able to relate to Ann’s pilgrimage. She assures the reader that although it seems like they are alone, they aren’t.

That is where the disclaimer in reading Mommy Memoirs comes in. You have been warned; Ann proves with no uncertainty that there will (definitely) be days like these.

MN- Every time I see your cover, I think, 'That is me.' I bet you hope women say that after reading Mommy Memoirs, don't you?

AV- It has been very exciting and yes, I wrote my book hoping that mothers of all ages and stages would be able to relate to my stories and see themselves and their own experiences on the pages of my memoir. So many moms have said to me, “When I read your story about…it reminded me of the time when…” It’s been fun! When my publishers said I would be on the cover, I fought it tooth and nail. It was intimidating to allow myself to be on a book cover looking like something the cat dragged in! However, my cover photographer and I worked very hard at depicting the “mayhem of motherhood” so moms could relate to it just by picking up the book. I’ve been told that the book cover sells the book~ any mom will be drawn in by the chaos on the cover that is her life!

MN- I know you must hear this all the time, but you write what women everywhere are thinking. Because you have such a gift of storytelling, it's hard to believe you didn't start writing until 2011. Did you have any long term aspirations to write, or was it a natural evolution from entertaining friends and family?

AV- Mary, I’m so glad you brought that up. I’ve always wanted to write but my first passion was motherhood! I adore my sons and loved being a stay-at-home mom. When our boys were grown and launched , and we were facing the “empty nest”, my husband asked me, “What have you always wanted to do that you’ve put on the back burner until now?” and without hesitating, I answered, “I have always wanted to write.” Believe it or not, that same night/early next morning, I awoke and “downloaded” almost all the chapter titles in one sitting. It took me nine months to “deliver” my fourth baby! Go figure. It has been such an adventure!

MN- "My OB-Gyn Goes To My Church". Brilliant first chapter title. Nobody goes there, so how did you decide to not only go there, but make it the lead off chapter in the book?

AV- That’s the beauty of writing a memoir…everything is in chronological order. That was one of my first memories of pregnancy and childrearing. It was the logical first choice because it happened at the very beginning of my journey through motherhood and being so new with the experiences I would have, I was mortified!

I also titled that chapter right off the bat, wanting to let my readers know that there would be no holds barred in my book. I decided to write with honesty and transparency to let moms know my heart, and be able to relate to our common experiences. One of the things that moms often believe, I think, is that they are alone in their experiences and feelings. The primary goal of my book was to let them know they are not alone, that there is someone just ahead of them on the path of motherhood that has “been there and done that” and is willing to share about her journey and walk beside them.

MN- I have found that a lot of people with a well developed world view and sense of humor have suffered some hurts that could have broken them, but they chose to be an overcomer. Did you have any life events that were difficult or even tragic that helped shape your light hearted approach to life?

AV- My mom and mentor was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 56. She suffered from the disease for 20 years and it tore our family apart. I wrote and dedicated my book to her, as well as my husband and sons. I missed her deeply as a mentor while raising our boys. I also wanted to leave a legacy for our sons because you never know how many days God has written in His book for you and Alzheimer’s runs in families.

MN- I read that you come from a strong missions-oriented family. Did any part of your missions experience shape your desire to have a family of your own?

AV- I have always wanted children and a family of my own. It was wonderful to have the opportunity both in Honduras and in Zambia, Africa to spend time with children on missions trips. In Honduras we spent 2 months in a small village that was 70% children under the age of 12! We had our work cut out for us…

MN- As a leadership coach, I would love if you could affirm to moms everywhere that yes, motherhood is an official leadership position. What is your take on the importance of influence we have in our children's lives?

AV- Being a mom and raising children in God’s image is the most important and exciting career any woman can choose. It is an honor and privilege to partner with God in this journey we call motherhood. What we moms don’t realize is that we must reclaim our authority and leadership in the home in order to have a positive, long lasting influence in our children’s lives. It is in doing so that we instill security in our children because they know who’s in charge! That’s not a bad thing. We can’t be their friends ~ we must lead in our homes and model character, honesty, compassion, integrity, and all the values that we hope to instill in our kids. They will not come by those qualities by accident. It is our job to give our children roots that go deep into the soil of a rich family heritage.

MN- You have three boys that are now adult children and two are married with families of their own. I believe a lot of women dread their adult children getting married because they perceive that marriage as a threat to their relationship with their children. How has your relationship with your sons evolved since their marriage?

AV- It has been an interesting evolution and quite honestly, I was a little nervous myself to release my sons into the arms of their brides, and enter into relationships with my daughters-in-law. It is a difficult but necessary step to let go of our children and bless their marriages. I think the key is laying the foundation for treasured relationships right from the beginning. Invest in your children when they are little and pour into their lives with love and support as they are growing, and then even after they are married, that love will be the foundation of your new relationships with their spouses. It will take some adjustment because the family dynamics will inevitably change. They always do…However, if you are considerate and careful about how you navigate those new horizons and nurture those relationships, you will reap a harvest of wonderful friendships with your adult children, their spouses and their children right on down through the generations. At least, that has been my experience. I love my daughters-in-law…they are treasures for my older years and the daughters I never had, and I am truly loving being a grandmother now!

MN- You seem to be in a great place right now as an empty nester. Any advice for readers entering this season of their life?

AV- So often you hear about the ”dreaded empty nest” ~ because I think couples don’t prepare for this season in their lives. We sometimes find too late that we have invested too much time and energy as mommy and daddy, and not enough time or energy as husband and wife. Consequently, when we reach the empty nest stage, we look at each other and think “Who are you?” Conversely, if we keep our marriages vital and healthy, and continue to nurture the marital relationship by keeping the marriage and God in the center of the family, having “date nights” and keeping romance alive, then the empty nest can be a welcome phase of freedom. You finally have time to enjoy your marital relationship again without the stress of children in the home needing your time and attention. If you maintain other interests and stay active, it can be an amazing phase in your marriage and wonderful stage in your life.

MN- Your go-to inspirational quote?

AV- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths!” Prov. 3:5,6 In parenting, in life, in marriage~ God will guide us if we seek His face and look to Him for purpose and trust His plan for us.

Author Bio- Ann was born in the Dominican Republic in a station wagon to missionary parents and has been going 95 mph ever since! She has lived in Costa Rica, has done missions work as an adult in Honduras and Zambia, Africa and has traveled through much of the Caribbean and Latin America. After graduating from William Smith College in Geneva, New York, she married Wes, her college sweetheart ~ and together, they have raised their three sons: Scott, Mark and Ben.

In addition, she and her husband have become Certified Leadership Parenting Coaches and have their own business coaching parents through difficult challenges of childrearing. You can find her on an online website for timely and effective parenting advice!

This author enjoys singing, playing the piano, painting and of course, writing...but mostly, she loves being a wife and mother! She considers it a tremendous blessing to have been a stay-at-home mom. Now she is an "empty nester", planning her bucket list and enjoying a new and exciting season in her life as a grandma!

Ann has made her home in Western New York near Buffalo, for the last thirty years with her husband and three sons.

Visit author Ann Van de Water at her website, on Facebook, and Twitter @AnnVanDeWater.

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