Grit to push through the hard stuff of motherhood

Part 2 of an Interview with
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin
and Gretta Kennedy,
Authors of Grit and Grace:
Devotions for Warrior Moms

From firsthand experience, Suzanne Hadley Gosselin and Gretta Kennedy, authors Grit and Grace: Devotions for Warrior Moms (Harvest House Publishers), share about the rigors and joys of being a mom. Elbow deep in the grind of diapers, laundry and peanut butter sandwiches, moms may find themselves struggling in the day-to-day challenges of parenting. “Having grit is pushing through the hard stuff of motherhood with determination and laser-focus on the end goal of raising children who love and serve Jesus,” Kennedy explains. “Having grace means realizing that God offers you peace, rest and help in this season. Also, as you give yourself grace, you will find you have even more grace to give yourself and your kids from the One who is present in your life right now.”

Grit and Grace is a refreshing collection of 90 daily devotions written by two moms who have found themselves desperately in need of encouragement. They hope to offer reassurance and hope to other moms. Through humor and vulnerability, the authors deliver short messages of truth to help moms embrace God’s calling on their lives to raise children who love and serve him. The authors cover topics such as perfectionism, comparison, joy, gratefulness, fear, rejection, weariness, calling, tenacity and hope.

Q: Before you had children, what did you expect motherhood to be like? What surprised you most when you became a mother?

Gretta Kennedy (GK):
I did a lot of babysitting as a kid and young adult, so I at least knew that kids aren’t perfect, and taking care of them can be pretty tiring. But the thing that surprised me the most was the huge responsibility of motherhood. I was the one who needed to be the expert on my child. No one else would know her like I did. Also, being a mother is totally different from being the babysitter! I was responsible for everything...not just this little person. The house, the food, the everything...oh yeah, and the children.

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (SHG): I have worked with kids since I was a teen. In fact, I met my husband when he struck up a conversation with me about children’s ministry. I always assumed I’d take to motherhood like a fish to water. I was wrong. The stress of being a mom revealed many of my weaknesses, such as being unskilled at managing our home and all the little demands of motherhood. It also revealed my selfishness as I was pushed to put others before myself again and again. 

Q: What was one of the biggest pressures you felt as a new mom? In what ways did you feel insecure?

GK: I wanted to do everything right and have the perfect child. I wanted to be super mom. I wanted to be super wife. And I think that pressure came from within me, not so much from outside influences. I quickly learned that I was human and  couldn’t do it all...especially maintain a clean home, serve a healthy dinner on time, and be everything my husband needed as well. It was impossible. I had to find a different and new rhythm and realistic expectations.

SHG: I struggled with not feeling cut out for motherhood. I was awkward interacting in mom circles, and I didn’t feel as knowledgeable as other moms. I kind of bumbled through the daily mechanics of caring for children. In my 10-year career as an editor at a major Christian organization, I had felt competent every day and received steady praise for my contributions. For the first time in my life, I felt like I wasn’t “good” at my job and though my babies were adorable, they didn’t offer me the kudos for my work I’d received in the workplace. I compared myself to the super-moms around me and saw myself coming up so short. As a perfectionist, it was an adjustment to find that, in some ways, I wasn’t a natural at being a mom. God had to take me on a very specific journey of accepting who He made me to be and realizing that He had teamed me up with my kids, with both my strengths and weaknesses in mind. That was powerful.

Q: Suzanne, you write that your spiritual life took a hit after you became a mom. In what ways?

SHG: Spiritual disciplines have always been an area of weakness for me. Even before kids, I struggled to meet with the Lord at a consistent time each day. However, I did find time to get in the Word daily and received consistent spiritual input through working at a Christian organization, being plugged in at church and attending multiple Bible studies during my single years. I had my first child a year and a half after I got married and decided to stay home. I quickly became isolated and overwhelmed and struggled to find time to even crack open the Bible. I felt too tired to pray. I realized many of the struggles I was experiencing, such as a negative view on life, conflicts with my husband and anger toward my children were the bad fruit of a life that wasn’t connected to the True Vine. But it was more difficult than it ever had been to sit at Jesus’ feet and be refreshed by Him.

Q: Gretta, you write about losing your identity when you became a mom. Was it something you realized all at once or was it gradual? What would you like readers to realize about their true identity?

GK: I had quite the cool job before I became a mom, and I loved what I did. A young newlywed and capable and trusted in an outdoor adventure-based ministry, I found great fulfillment in my marriage and career. When our daughter was born, my life was consumed with her. Being a good mom and knowing my daughter’s every need became my top priority, and I genuinely loved it. But around the 6-month mark, it dawned on me that every conversation I had with others always revolved around mom life. It no longer mattered what I did prior to becoming a mother, and no one really cared anymore about my relationship with my husband. It was all about my daughter. I had become just a mom.

I really struggled with that because I felt there was so much more to me, but none of that mattered anymore. “Mom” was it for me from here on out. Then God reminded me very clearly that titles are not my true identity. My identity needs to be found in him alone because that will never change. So truths like “daughter of the King” and “chosen” and “forgiven” became the identities I tried to focus on. This is so important for moms to remember. The little children years are so demanding that we can forget how God sees us. We are so much more than moms. We are redeemed! We are gifted! We are loved! If we can keep our identity centered as God sees us, then as we go through changes in life, our foundation won’t be shaken and we will be more free to live as God truly intended.

SHG: My favorite devotional is titled “(Gingerbread) Man Down.” I talk about how my daughter accidentally broke two gingerbread men ornaments that had been a gift from a coworker. They had sentimental value, and I yelled at her when she broke them. A few weeks later, she presented me with a new gingerbread man ornament. It was gaudy and glittery and painted with bold colors. She told me, “Mommy, this gingerbread man is even more beautiful than the ones I broke.” In the devotion, I talk about how that is what God does for us. He fixes our broken places and gives us something more beautiful than what we started with.

Q: As your kids have started to grow up, what are some of the things you miss about having kids at the youngest stages?

GK: I miss the simplicity of sitting on the couch and reading stories, the chair in the kitchen while they help mix ingredients, and the funny ways the kids pronounced words and phrases!

SHG: Mine are still pretty young, but with the older ones, I miss their absolute need and dependence on me…just wanting to be with me every second for no apparent reason. Isn’t that a picture of my Heavenly Father and me? I am absolutely dependent on Him and should crave to be with Him every day. And I miss all the kisses and hugs. My 2-year-old is still the best at those!

Fellow Grit and Grace Warrior Moms can connect on Facebook (gritandgracemoms), Twitter (Gritandgracemom) and Instagram (@gritandgracemoms).