Meet Later Mom: Author Linda Goodnight
Linda Goodnight is the award-winning, bestselling author of nearly fifty novels, including her latest, The Memory House. Her books center on broken people, the power of family and love, healing and redemption. She’s been a teacher and a nurse, and is the proud mother to a blended family of eight children. Her books are available anywhere books are sold and through her website at www.lindagoodnight.com.
What was your road to parenthood like? Crazy. Sporadic. I like to say we’ve had three sets of children. When we married in our twenties, my husband brought three children with him and I became an instant stepmother. Later, we added three more bio children. They grew to adulthood and we thought our days of parenthood were complete. However, life had a surprise. Long after the first nest was emptied and we were far past the age that most people consider raising children, Gene and I became interested in orphan ministry, never expecting that this would lead to a new beginning as parents to two adopted girls.
Is there one project in your career thus far that you are most proud of, and why? My newest novel, The Memory House, is a book I’m especially proud of. For years, I wanted to write a big, complex, dual time period book like this but allowed other book deadlines, fear of failure and all the usual excuses to hold me back.
How does being a mom influence your work? What do your children think of all that you do? One of the great blessings of being an author is that I work at home and arrange my own schedule. Being a mom is top priority and if my girls need me, if they have an event at school, if one of them is sick, whatever their need, I adjust accordingly. My children also influence my work in that I always want to write stories they can be proud of, stories of hope and healing that encourage and bring light. That’s what I want for my kids, so that’s what I want for those who read my books.
My children are incredibly proud to tell people that their mom is a writer. My oldest daughter, who has a unique name and is a professional speaker, generally leads her talks with the fact that her mother is a novelist with a vivid imagination and that should explain her fanciful name. She claims it’s a great ice breaker!
What was your motivation to pursue adoption? We are people of faith and believe it is scriptural to care for the orphans of the world. But that sounds a bit sanctimonious because, truly, we adopted out of love for these girls. Our oldest adopted daughter stole our hearts the moment we met on an orphan hosting program. Later, after her first adoption failed and she reached out to us, we pushed aside the fact that we were too old and had raised a family already.
What’s it been like to parent at different stages of life? Times have changed so much. It’s amazing the different issues we deal with now that weren’t around when raising our first set of children. Cell phones, the internet, cyber predators are all new worries. On the positive side, parenting today is easier because we are established, stable and financially more secure.
Do you think it’s tough for women to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits? I don’t think it’s as hard as some seem to believe. I think it’s more about priorities. Yes, today’s women are jacks of all trades, trying to do it all, but in reality, no one can. We have choices to make. I have strong feelings that parents should raise their children, not daycare centers, so I chose careers that allowed me to work and still be a full time mother. I realize not every woman will make my choices or feel that strongly, but for me, there was no other way and I have no regrets.
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? Frankly, I was amazed at the positives. I really expected it to be much harder and to feel old and worn down and out of step, but the opposite is true. At our ages, we have gained experience and maturity and insight that we never had when we were younger. Things that would have driven me up the wall in my twenties are insignificant now. I know that time with my girls is fleeting and far more important. I didn’t see that when I was twenty-five. I didn’t understand that time would fly by and I would miss out if I didn’t stop right then and smell the roses with my kids.
Challenges: The worry that I won’t be here to see my grandchildren. The worry that my girls will be embarrassed by having an “old” mom or when people assume I’m their grandmother.
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it, and what is the most challenging? I love everything about being a mother. When my bio children were born, I loved every stage of growth, their smell, their cuddles. With my adopted children, watching them blossom from scared, untrusting girls to loving, confident teens has been a beautiful gift that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I loved reading to and with them, even though they were older. I love brushing their hair, the giggles when I tried without much success to learn to French braid, painting toenails in crazy colors and sharing scarves and going to the gym together. So many things.
The most challenging thing about being a mother to my adopted girls has been helping them through the heartache of their pasts. They have healed and continue to heal, but such trauma leaves scars that even my love can’t completely erase. Also, both girls were only emergent readers when they came to us at 10 and 13. Homeschooling, at least in the beginning, was the best answer to help them catch up. These hours spent presented a unique challenge but also a unique opportunity to counsel and bond.
What do you most want to teach your children? What have you learned from them thus far? As people of faith, we’re teaching them that God has a plan for their lives and this is what brought them all the way from Ukraine, through a failed adoption, to us. We want them to grow to be women of integrity and honor who can stand on their own two feet and someday make a difference in someone else’s life.
From our girls we have learned the power of the human spirit to overcome incredible obstacles and painful, tragic circumstances and still be wonderful human beings with so very much to offer. They are heroes in our eyes.
Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? How do you think an organization like Motherhood Later…Than Sooner can be helpful to later moms and families? My main support is my husband. We’re partners in this parenting thing and give each other much support. Frankly, because I am so much older, I’ve not met any parenting peers in our circle. Motherhood Later….Than Sooner provides a needed resource so that older moms and dads don’t feel so alone.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? Words of wisdom? If you’ve ever thought of adopting an older child no matter your age, don’t listen to the naysayers. Throw your arms open wide and embrace the greatest gift there is, the gift of loving a child.
Do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your children or other parents? My mother died when I was young but both my parents were people of strong character. They didn’t have much materially, but their work ethic was unflinching, and even when it would have been easier to do otherwise, they always did the right thing. It’s a common refrain in our home today. Do the right thing, even when no one is watching. I want all eight of my children to live by that philosophy, and I believe they do.