Real Moms: Linda Gardner

HebrewDawn: Real Moms Series - Linda Gardner
from left to right: Mary Jean, Linda, Tess, and Ava

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?

 

HebrewDawn: Real Moms Series - Linda Gardner
clockwise from the top: Linda, Ava, Mary Jean, and Tess


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.

 

HebrewDawn: Real Moms Series - Linda Gardner
from left to right: Mary Jean, Ava, and Tess

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.

 

HebrewDawn: Real Moms - Linda Gardner
from left to right: Linda, Tess, Mary Jean, and Ava

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.

If you’d like to read about some other moms in our series, go read about Loren and Heather, here and here.

Do you know a great mom that should be featured in our series? If so, please send me a message.

My Independent Daughter 

Lately my daughter has been REALLY into helping us do things around the house. Her current favorites are dishes and cooking. There seems to be no limit to what she wants to help us do. In the moment it may not feel like VHP is being all that helpful, but I remind myself she is learning how to do things on her own. She’s becoming independent.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen the above picture of VHP helping put away dishes. At first glance you see spoons, forks, and knives not where they belong. What I learned a few nights ago at dinner, is that my little girl was learning exactly where everything belonged. She got down from her chair at dinner and told us, “be right back okay.” She then went to the drawer above, opened it and started reaching for what she needed. She couldn’t quite see what she wanted, so she turned to get a chair. She frequently uses a chair to stand on and watch us cook or put away dishes. Once she got the chair next to my husband, she climbed up and got herself a spoon. I guess a fork wasn’t what she wanted to eat with that evening.

In the moment I thought to myself, God help me, this girl will be so independent. I quickly realized I needed to change my thoughts on this. It’s not God help me, but God bless me, this girl will be so independent. Yes, she is going to test my patience in waiting for her to do things herself, but she will be able to do things herself. Like my husband and I always say, we’re not raising a child, but raising a person. This independent little girl will one day be an independent woman, and there’s no other way I’d rather her be.

Potty Training Why Must You Do This to Me?

many thanks to gratisography for the photo

For many parents, the time to start potty training is filled with joy for the day that diapers will be no more. For myself, it’s a period I dread. I’ve been a part of the team supporting child and their parents through the potty training process more times than I can name. I’ve cleaned up countless children, wiped up MANY floors, and done innumerable loads of laundry  from “accidents” that may or may not have been an accident.  No matter how you go about this process with a child I know that much of this is inevitable. Over time my thoughts on potty training has ebbed and flowed.  

After watching many children succeed in learning to use the toilet and many have to go about it in their own way, I know that this process is not one size fits all. I’m also a firm believer that a child will not make the switch from diapers to the potty until they are good and ready. At times we can wonder if we’re crazy in what we’re thinking about on this parenting journey, but I really appreciated this post from Janet Lansbury affirming my inclination on why we shouldn’t potty train. I realize we can’t force a child to make the switch, but sometimes it’s hard to know when a child is good and ready. 

My husband doesn’t get my potty training/toilet learning dread, as he thinks this is a great next step for our daughter. I’ve tried to explain what’s in our future and why I’m not wanting to rush this next stage, but I think seeing is believing. For the last several months, VHP has been showing more and more signs of potty training readiness. I’m really trying to follow her lead so that things can go as quickly, smoothly, and painless many loads of laundry free as possible. 

Since thanksgiving, things have been even more potty focused in the Parker house.  Around 12:00 on Thanksgiving day, I took VHP upstairs for a diaper change and she demanded no diaper.  I asked if she needed to go potty, to which she responded yes.  Took her and she did in fact pee a fair amount (not the first time this has happened mind you). After that she REFUSED to put a diaper on, so big girl panties it was. She did great through thanksgiving lunch (an early meal due to my brother having to work), and went potty again before nap. I did put a diaper on for nap time (much to her dismay), but it was right back to being in panties after that. Difference this time was that she would NOT use the potty. Well, during snack she decided she HAD to come sit with me. As anyone can guess,  half way through snack she and I both had wet pants. We changed our clothes, finished snack and played for a bit. After snack we tried to potty again with no luck. Shortly thereafter my mom noticed VHP’s pants were wet AGAIN. Changed her clothes AGAIN which I know is normal for this process, but tiring nonetheless. Before long it was potty time again, VHP wouldn’t go, and not too long after that it was accident #3! I decided enough was enough, and back to the diapers she went (with much protestation)!

Over the next couple weeks VHP would use the potty some, but this past week it’s been different. She has started requesting to go potty, and really going more than usual. Saturday she used the potty more than soiling her diapers, and for that I was really excited. But then there was the after dinner diaper change incident in a public restroom. She was being cooperative through the diaper change, and all was well in our world. Then I asked if she needs to go potty, which is the normal diaper change question lately, and her response was yes. I’m getting ready to grab her and take her potty when I notice the changing pad is getting wet. She smiles. I tell her we don’t pee on the change on the changing table, to which she responds, “yeah, pee potty.” I affirm this and clean up the new mess on our hands. VHP keeps giggling and declares, “its’s funny!” 

Sigh, have I mentioned I dread potty training?!

I’m hoping this whole process goes well, but I’m feeling quite skeptical. Tips for what has worked for you? Guidance on what hasn’t worked? Stories to share on the challenges JOY of switching from diapers to using the potty?