As a parent there are many tough moments mixed into all the beautiful ones. Many of us have experience those difficult ones; like the first time they cry from getting shots, the first time they get seriously injured, and the first time they get sick. But I believe what makes that last moment even more challenging is going to work when your kids are sick.
I keep waiting for the moment that it’s easier to walk out the door leaving my daughter in the care of someone else who loves her while I go to work. To date, that moment never gets easier, and I even dread the moment when it comes. When my little girl is feeling ill, there’s nothing more that I want than for her to feel better. If I can’t make her feel better, then I can snuggle with her until she does.
Unfortunately for me, today is another one of those days that I have to go to work while my little girl is sick. Fortunately my husband has sick AND vacation time through his employer, whereas I only have PTO (paid time off) to be used for both sick and vacation time. Since my husband has more time off, this means he usually stay home with a sick kiddo, and for that I am thankful.
On a day like today, I am most thankful that my daughter is left in the care of her daddy who loves her enormously, is chef extraordinaire, and is one of the most caring people I’ve ever met. I know that without a doubt that my little girl will get nursed back to health with all the cuddles and care she requires.
I know that on a day like today, that not everyone is so fortunate to leave their child in the hands of their spouse, significant other, or another trusted family member. And for this my heart breaks. I can remember the days of my own mother being a single mom, and our neighbors who were single parents as well. They were were stuck with the choice of between going to work to be able to put food on the table and being there with their sick child.
Leaving your child in the care of someone other than yourself and balancing out the responsibilities of work and parenting is never easy. I’m certain leaving for work when your child is sick is not the hardest thing in parenting, but it most certainly can feel like it in the moment. For each person the struggle is different in varying degrees, but it’s a struggle none the less.
I hope the next time we have to wrestle with this situation, we will remember that we are not alone in the guilt and worry. I encourage you to let those that care about you know that you’re having a tough day being apart from your sick child. Most of all, I hope for a day when we don’t have to be stuck choosing between being with our sick child and going to work.
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.
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.
On separate occasions over the weekend my husband and I picked up our daughter and were shocked by how big she felt in our arms. At one point we asked her, “When did you get so big?”
I don’t think she really knew how to answer that question because VHP’s response was a very contemplative “um, um, um..” while trying to figure out an answer. I’m not so sure that my husband or I knew exactly when either, but by the end of the weekend that we had a better idea.
During church it was time for the children’s moment and we asked VHP, “would you like to go up there by yourself or with mama?” Her response was an emphatic, “MYSELF!” So off she went to the front of the sanctuary. My heart had a little pang of longing to go with her, but I stayed put and watched to see what she would do. She sat for the children’s time and listened to the pastor. She folded her hands, bowed her head, and prayed during the prayer. When all was said and done, she sat for a few minutes after the other children got up, and eventually made her way back to sit with us.
So when did my little girl get so big? Was it Sunday morning? Was it when she no longer wanted to nurse? Will it be when she goes to kindergarten? Was it when she slept through the night as a newborn? Will it be when she goes to high school? For now, it’s when she didn’t need me on Sunday morning.
Even though I may not want to think about my daughter growing up so much, her going off to kindergarten, or eventually being in high school, she’s growing and will continue getting SO big. We might not always recognize these moments of growth when they happen, but these moments pull at our heartstrings nonetheless.
Despite our hopes that our children will remain our babies forever, they grow and progressively need us less. It’s nice to feel needed, but it’s also encouraging to see our babies become their own little person.
I am so excited to introduce another mom to you in this new motherhood series here on HebrewDawn. Please allow me to introduce, Heather Widerholt. She and I became fast friends over tacos, margaritas, laughter, and a fun trip to MommyCon this past summer. Heather is the beautiful voice behind Sleepy Brother, and owner of Turtle and Hare Photography. This woman is full of so much talent, joy, AND she’s a wonderful mom. I hope you enjoy getting to know Heather and hearing about her life as a mom with her beautiful little girl.
How many children do you have and how old are they? I have one daughter who is four months old.
What is your greatest joy in being a mom? It’s hard to pinpoint a single joy for me at this point. Maybe it’s just because my daughter is so young, but right now all of the emotions are so vibrant, that it’s all joy. I’m joyfully amazed at her existence. I’m joyful that I get to love and teach her. I pray that I do a good job at that. I’m joyful to have the privilege to watch her grow and learn.
What has been your greatest struggle as a mom? I think that balancing myself has been, and will continue to be, a struggle. When I say balance I don’t just mean time. Being a mom makes all of the stakes in life feel higher. Decisions are harder because there is another person to consider. Time management is obviously harder. Prioritizing myself, or others, over my child is also part of this delicate balance. Every action is a series of choices in which I must prioritize people and activities. I’m still getting the hang of this.
What’s something you wish you knew before you became a mom? I wish I knew that I would experience emotion to a wider degree. It’s not necessarily a negative, but I just feel things much deeper. I doubt there would have been a way to prepare myself for that though.
How has your relationship with your significant other changed since having kids? It’s been so comforting to have someone to go through this transition with who is experiencing, questioning, and learning from all of the same things. We are learning how to be parents side by side, and it’s brought us closer together. I’m sure it won’t all be sunshine and flowers, but the thought of this very special shared life event is very exciting right now.
My hope for motherhood… I’ve only been a mom for about five minutes, but they’ve been a very full five minutes. I hope I can be a wise mother who humbly shows her daughter the grace, mercy, and love of God.
Thank You Heather for being a part of the real moms series! I hope you have enjoyed hearing from this beautiful and kindhearted woman who is full of so much love and grace. I hope that no matter where you are on this motherhood journey, that you have so much to offer the world around you and other women you encounter.
If you are interested in checking out Heather’s music with Sleepy Brother, I highly recommend giving their latest album Let in the Light a listen and a buy. Lastly, if you’re in the Richmond, Virginia area and need a photographer or videographer for the special moments in your life run and check out Turtle & Hare Photography as you will not be disappointed.
Would you like to be featured in the Real Moms Series or have someone you’d like to see? We are always looking for moms with kids of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds to share their story. Make sure to send me a message to be featured or nominate someone!
There are so many moments as a parent when we wonder if it will always be this hard. On the flip side, there are many times that we wish would last forever. It’s this strange, yet lovely, dichotomy that represents motherhood and being a parent. As I’ve navigated life as mom, I’ve had moments that took my breath away from being so sweet or challenging. I wondered if it would always be like this, and then I’d remind myself that it won’t be like this for long…
Many thanks to Darius Rucker for providing the music to convey these feeling so well, but also serving as an important reminder that the sweet moments are quickly fleeting.
While pregnant we wonder if we’ll ever find out the gender of our baby, or if we will ever be done waiting for our child to arrive. What we forget about is the safety and security of the little love in the womb, while we grow and prepare for life with this little love in the world.
After the weeks of waiting for the arrival of our sweet baby, we wonder with blurry eyes if we will do anything besides nurse, change diapers, and rock a crying baby back to sleep. What we forget is how this little baby is completely dependent on the milk that only we can provide, finds the most comfort in our heartbeat, and will someday want no part of these sweet snuggles.
Once we finally make it through early months of a newborn, we suddenly have a baby that has forgotten how to sleep. We are now in the throws of the five month sleep regression and wonder if we’ll ever sleep again. Later we’ll realize that these late night snuggles are precious when our baby will one day squirm too much to sleep cuddled next to us.
We anxiously await the day for our sweet little love to crawl and explore the world, until we realize they can’t find every little thing closest to the ground. We long for the day that they won’t be into everything, but what we will someday realize that there are so many things that they cannot yet reach.
We long for the day that our sweet child will walk, and run and play until they do. Suddenly they are toddling everywhere and finding everything to grab and crash into. We wonder if we’ll have to scoop them up forever and kiss their bruises, but some day we’ll remember how much faster they can move and how tough they were.
After weeks and months of practice, our sweet toddler no longer moves slowly from place to place, but is getting into everything. We wonder if anything will be sacred or safe from their little hands, but later we’ll know that it was easier having them get into these things down low and not hidden out of sight.
Before long we reach the long awaited days of potty training when diapers are no more. We feel like we’ve finally crossed the last bridge of babydom, and long for the days of dry underpants. Someday we’ll remember how much this little person still needed our love and guidance with even the basic of human needs.
Each moment of life with our babies is challenging but is quickly passing. When the moments get to be too hard, I pause and remind myself that it won’t be like this for long. That times that feel so hard will one day be sweet moments of the past that we may (not always) long to go back to and savor.
I am so excited to begin the new motherhood series here on HebrewDawn, and interview our first mom. Please allow me to introduce, one of my dearest friends, Loren Mitchell. She is a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a writer, and a dear friend. She’s and I met while in seminary together, and though miles may separate us, our friendship has remained strong. It has been a joy to be on this motherhood journey together, as our kids are 7 months apart. I hope you enjoy getting to know Loren and hearing about her life as a mom with her sweet boy K.
How many children do you have and how old are they? I have one child, a son, who will be 2 years old in May.
What is your greatest joy in being a mom? Seeing how much fun K has when he is doing the most basic things! He loves moving and sorting things from one box to another. He gets really excited now to go outside and play. While he is more of a picky eater now than he once was, he really enjoys eating applesauce and cookies. He is very adamant in asking for both. He also has this little monkey backpack and lunchbox that he loves to wear to school. My favorite part of the day is bedtime. Not the part where we keep trying to delay putting on pajamas or fighting brushing our teeth. But the part where we snuggle in the rocking chair and read stories before bed.
What has been your greatest struggle as a mom? Having my child be sick so frequently in the past year. For the first ten months of his life he went to work with me (I was serving as a solo pastor in a small congregation). When we moved to a bigger city and I began to serve a larger church a year ago, K who was becoming mobile, had to start daycare. He has had every virus under the sun, twice! To make matters worse, he has febrile seizures. This means that when his fever spikes from a virus or ear infection for example, he has seizures. These do not cause damage and don’t last very long but they are so scary! So, as parents we have struggled a lot on whether or not to keep him in school or take him out. It is always hard to see your baby sick, but the fear of seizures has made us extra protective when he isn’t feeling well. We’ve chosen to keep him in the Montessori school where he attends because he loves it so much and he is learning so many great skills. And finally, after a year, I believe his immune system is finally getting stronger!
What’s something you wish you knew before you became a mom? I was so terrified to bring him home when he was born. How would I ever sleep? I knew it would be so tiring. I knew that we would become pros at feeding, changing, etc., but I don’t think I was ever absolutely certain that I was ready to be a mother. I guess I wish I had been more confident in the fact that I didn’t have to breastfeed my child. I had wanted to do that and was prepared for it. But, I was sick when he was born. Not only did we have latching issues, my milk never came in. After about 6 weeks of stressing over that every hour of every day I quit trying. And you know what? It is okay! My son is healthy. My son was thriving and I was not. I had to not only accept that fact but trust that we bonded just fine as mother and son without breastfeeding. It is great for some moms, but it didn’t work for me and that doesn’t make me any less of a mother.
Having a child changes you, so what do you hold onto and let go of as mother? Being in control of everything (P.S. this is ridiculously hard). I like to plan things out but I find that with a child things change in an instant so it is harder for me to commit to doing things professionally or socially. I actually had to give up serving on our Presbytery Youth Council because I just couldn’t do everything. This was very sad for me to say that I couldn’t participate in that ministry anymore. I’ve gotten very lax about keeping the house straight or even keeping my desk/bill pile organized. I hate this and It drives me crazy. If I have to choose between sitting on the floor with the kiddo or straightening up, I have learned to try to sit still in the moment (my husband will tell you he has to constantly remind me that it is ok to be this way)! I am also trying really hard to hold on to my friendships. Time is such a precious gift these days but I am often too tired to pick up the phone or plan a day with friends. I value those relationships and that support so much, as I have wonderful friends. I hope they know they are appreciated, even if we don’t spend a lot of time together like we did before we all got married and had children.
How has your relationship with your significant other changed since having kids? My relationship with my husband is certainly different. In some ways we are stronger than ever, we are a team when it comes to parenting our son and I feel that we are intentional in quality time spent as a family. But there are days when we really struggle. There are days when all of my energy is spent being pastor and mother and I am just deflated at the end of the day with little energy to be a wife. Not that these roles should ever be divided up in this way as I am supposed to wear all these hats at once, but I think that my husband often gets the short end of the stick. Other life stresses can also contribute to that but I think that we strive to spend quality time together, but it is tough. This flows over into the next question
How do you make time for date night? Or how do you keep it saucy when life gets messy? Short answer: I am not very good at it! I let the stresses of life kill my mood more often than I should. We have tried, and will continue to strive to take date nights or spend time together on days I do not have to work. We are lucky we have family close by so we do try to take advantage and let K spend time with them!
What’s the one thing you would tell yourself looking back on your journey thus far? They grow so fast. And Saturdays can be so hard! Just try to relax and enjoy the moments you have with your son and your spouse. Children change every day and I want to be able to remember what he was like at each stage of his childhood. Two things I have done to record those memories are to make Shutterfly Photo books every few months and write him a monthly blog on his birthday date with memories, milestones, and photos so that we can always look back. He’ll either appreciate that when he is older or want to kill me.
Thank You Loren for agreeing to be a part of the real moms series! I hope you have enjoyed hearing from this beautiful woman, and hearing that there are many similar struggles that we are all facing. If you enjoyed her writing style as much as I do, feel free to read more on her blog Preaching Thumbelina.
Would you like to be featured in the Real Moms Series or have someone you’d like to see? We are looking for moms with kids of all ages AND mothers of children all grown up to share their story. Make sure to send me a message to be featured or nominate someone!
Happy Monday! I shared on Friday that there are some things in the works for HebrewDawn, and I couldn’t wait to tell you! Some may have noticed that there has been a routine developing as to the type of material and topics posted (Mondays – motherhood, Wednesdays – faith, and Fridays – fun). There will still be a routine to what is posted and when, but there will be a little bit of a shift. Are you ready to hear what it is?
Drum roll please….
Mondays will remain motherhood and motivation focused, but that is not all. There is a new series coming your way and YOU are invited to be a part of it!
Throughout this series we’ll hear stories from other moms, answering some of our questions, sharing their stories, and helping us know that we’re not alone on this motherhood journey. We will hear from moms with children of all ages, AND veteran moms who have survived living with kids and then had them leave the nest. So how do you get to be a part of this? If you have questions for these moms or if you would be interested in being featured, leave a comment or send me a message.
Wednesdays will be taking on a new focus from what they’ve been. Now the focus will be on wellness, and it will be from a 360 perspective. We will take a look at wellness through the lens of fitness, diet, heart, and mind. To enrich our conversations on this topic, be on the lookout for a new voice coming to HebrewDawn as a regular contributor!
Fridays will continue be a mix of faith and fun. This should be a positive way to finish out our week, refresh our souls, and get us ready for the coming week.
Thank you for being a faithful reader, and I hope you’ll be a part of the excitement however you may contribute to the conversation (questions, comments, or sharing a story too). As always I’ll hope you’ll spread the word to others of all that’s going on and all that’s coming so we can each be encourage and inspired as we journey together.
Would you let your baby nap outside in the cold or your elementary aged child take the subway on their own? Check out these intriguing parenting trends from around the world that haven’t caught in the U.S.
The For the last year I have been trying to reduce how much I carry in my bag and debating what NEEDS to be in there. The Girl Scout in me wants to be prepared, but inevitably my purse turns out to be heavier than necessary. Now that my daughter has said goodbye to diapers, I no longer need to carry a diaper bag and my purse. This is great from one perspective, but the question remains what do I NEED in my bag?
Here is the current mom bag purse of the moment:
This was a TJ Maxx find last year. I love that this bag is a neutral color so it matches almost everything, and it has a removable strap so that I can wear it like a crossbody. The other great about this bag, but also dangerous, is that it is nice and big so it can carry everything!
I don’t blame the bag for it getting too full and heavy, but I do blame what’s inside. Here are the current contents minus some receipts, checkbook (because I don’t carry it all the time), and random things that didn’t belong needed to be put away.
I know that none of these things are absolute necessities, but I do believe that the wallet and phones are purse must haves. But where do I cut back and carry less? I’m working on keeping less in the coach wristlet. It’s not uncommon for me to have every size bandaid known to man in the wristlet, but I have reduced the number to have only a few along with the items listed above. I prefer to use my own pen when I’m out because of germs. The notebook is great for making notes so I don’t forget things (hello mommy brain is no joke), plus it keeps the toddler entertained with the pencil when we’re out. The kid items and snacks aren’t always in my purse, but they don’t always make it out after the weekend is up. Thankfully I’ve been good about removing the extra panties and wet bag so I don’t have those fall out of my bag during work.
So what do you keep in your purse? Are you someone that likes to be super prepared or are ou more of a minimalist? Thoughts on what to scale back on in my own bag?
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