Today I have the great privilege of introducing you to the next mom in our Real Moms Series. She is the mother to THREE beautiful girls, and is truly a beautiful person on the inside and out. I do not have want to take up much of your time with an introduction, so that you can savor all that she has to share. Please meet Linda Gardner, and I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I’m honored to know her.
How many children do you have and how old are they? Tess – my beautiful, kind, already married, 25 year old … and did I say kind? Mary Jean – my beautiful, goofy, not happy about being the middle child, 20 year old … and did I say goofy? And Ava – my beautiful, blonde, last chance for a boy, 19 year old … and did I say blonde?
What’s something you wish you knew before you became a mom that would’ve made your motherhood easier or better? How important it is to form relationships with other moms so that you have a support system of girlfriends. Join a play group of moms of similar aged children. If there isn’t one in your neighborhood – start one! It’s one of the best things that I ended up doing as it provided support for me and playmates for my girls. Girlfriends made me a better mother. Playmates made them better friends.
What is your greatest joy in being a mom? Beyond a doubt … Watching my children develop into the people that they aspire to be.
What has been your greatest struggle as a mom? If they hurt … knowing when to step in so that they know that I have their back and knowing when to step away so that they develop skills on how to fix things for themselves. Learning how to be their biggest advocate while not trying to fix everything for them. You can’t. It’s hard. I want to chew out every friend that has said an unkind word to them and every organization that didn’t accept them, but all of that just makes them stronger people and prepares them for what life brings. Still hard though.
How has your relationship with your significant other changed since having kids? Better, better and better. Obviously working as a team strengthens any relationship. Making the decision before having kids as to parenting style is huge. So basically agreeing to be the same type of parent before you are thrown into the situation. It’s not something you can “wing” because there are 2 of you involved. For us this came natural. We discussed how we would handle things and as it turned out – we were on the same page for most things already. So we were ahead of the game. But if there are things you disagree on then you have to decide ahead which way you are going to parent together.
Having a child changes you. What do you hold onto and let go of as mother? Hold on to who you are on the inside … your heart, your soul, your spirit and let go of the fact that it’s about you. It’s always about someone else now – in the best of ways.
How do you make time for date night? Or how do you keep it saucy when life gets messy? I love date night so it’s easy. You just do it! I have never felt “torn” between wanting to spend time with my husband and wanting to spend time with my children. I have always craved both and done both. And felt good about it. Children have to experience you leaving and coming back. Even if a date means a weekend away. I was always fine with sending my kids away for weekends with the grandparents. It’s a win win for everyone and now they have those wonderful memories. Believe me – they will be fine without you. And if someone else doesn’t do things the exact way that you do … it’s OK.
What’s the one thing you would tell yourself looking back on your journey thus far? Just when you think you’ve been through the best part … lookout … the best is yet to come. The infant stage, the toddler stage, the teenage years, and now young adult. So many laughs, so many tears, so much of everything and yet so much to look forward to!
Anything else you’d like to share? One of my main goals as a parent was always to have my children and family unit be able to exist without me. Obviously I cannot control when I leave this earth, and if it ended up happening earlier rather than later, then I wanted my girls to be well adjusted and confident enough (even as children or teenagers) so that after the initial grieving, they would be able to think of me and enjoy the time we had together and not feel bitter and that they had somehow been cheated. So as important as I am in their life – I always want them to know and remember that their relationship with God is the single most important relationship in their life. That is everlasting.
Respect your children and in return you have every right to demand respect from them. If you are upset with your children – feel free to tell them and explain why. But be open to hearing the same from them. If they are upset with you and decisions that you’ve made – be accepting of their thoughts. It’s a 2 way street. And if they respect you and your rules, then disciplining is so much easier. Feeling guilty over breaking the rules is a much more effective form a discipline than being sent to their room.
Make sure your children are raised to be well rounded. Miss a rehearsal or even school to go on a vacation. Miss a game or a tournament to attend church. Make sure they are exposed to a variety of activities … sports, music, community service, church … it’s all important so they can develop into healthy well rounded people. And remember – our children are not put on this earth to fill the areas that we failed in – they need to find their own thing.
Don’t expect your children to do anything you won’t do also. They learn by example not by preaching. Don’t expect them to do community service if you aren’t willing to do it also. If they want to be a girl scout – you should be willing to be a leader (if they want you to). Don’t expect them to be involved in church if you aren’t also. And as far as being involved … be a room parent. Not every year, but at least one year in elementary school for each child. If you absolutely can’t work it out, then at least volunteer in the lunch room occasionally or to read to their class. You will never regret it!
Worship together as a family. It’s an hour a week and it’s the one time of the week that everyone puts everything else aside and makes God, family, and a sense of community and purpose a priority.
Did you enjoy getting know Linda? I hope you’ve been inspired by Linda and her journey through motherhood. She has shared so much wisdom and guidance for us as mothers and mothers-to-be. There are days that I’m terrified at my daughter becoming a teenager and growing up, but hearing from Linda, I feel like it’s nothing to fear.
Do you know a great mom that should be featured in our series? If so, please send me a message.