MP: You have experienced loss in your life. How have your losses affected you and your journey as a parent?
Lynda: After an 18 month battle, I lost my husband Scott Jackson to Leukemia in 1998, when he was 33 years old. Scott and I were married almost nine years and our children, Nolan and Alicia Ruth (Sissy), were ages six and four when he passed away. It was one of the most difficult times of my life and I will be forever grateful for the strength and encouragement from my family, Scott’s family, friends and my church family, who all helped Nolan, Sissy and me through a very devastating time.
Loss does make you stronger. After Scott passed away, I found myself raising two small children alone, both of whom were dependent on me for strength and guidance. My Catholic faith was strong and never wavered. Scott had made the decision to become Catholic before he passed away, and if I didn’t know it before, I knew then that God was always leading our lives and was in charge of everything. Even the difficult times. I never questioned why…I just wanted to give Nolan and Sissy a strong, faith-filled home where they could continue to thrive.
I always wanted Nolan and Sissy to know how much they were loved, and especially that their daddy loved them with all his heart. This terrible event that happened in their life, although devastating, would not define them. We did not make excuses, we didn’t expect special treatment in life, and the loss of their daddy would not open doors or give us “an exception or a pass”. They would grow up to be their own people and be successful adults. They are. I know Scott is proud.
God is always good and He brought Andy and Andrew into our lives. Andy is a wonderful husband and father to Nolan and Alicia Ruth, and I am a mom to his son, Andrew. In 2002, the loss of our son when I was five months pregnant was crippling. Our strong faith, family and friends again saw us through those dark times. Matthew, Melody and Sophia completed our family of eight, and while life isn’t always easy, it is a gift. It is a lot of work balancing six children, a busy family and two businesses, but Andy and I stand strong together to make it happen and he makes it look flawless.
MP: How do you balance being a business owner and an actively involved mother?
Lynda: Life would not be possible without Andy at my side. We share every responsibility together…caring for our home, caring for our children, driving them to activities and practices at Montgomery Catholic, being active in St. Bede Parish, attending school meetings and functions, and working together during our large consignment sale events. As well as working full time, Andy also spends many “after hours” working on the business at The Shoppes of My Kids Attic, long after most have settled in for the night. We’ve always said, “We make good business together!” And I can honestly say that he does much more laundry than me.
We have the most amazing and loyal staff at The Shoppes of My Kids Attic. I could not do all I do to be a part of my childrens’ lives and be a business owner if not for the girls working alongside me. It is not always easy, in retail, to have employee retention and I am so grateful for each and every one of my staff, especially Kati and Stephanie who have been with us for more than eight years.
MP: Heading into the Christmas holidays, are there any special traditions your family shares?
Lynda: Andy is one of eight children and most all of his family lives here in Montgomery. As you can imagine with a family that large, our holiday festivities are huge. We share a very special Christmas Day at our home, hosting around 50, including his father, siblings and their spouses, nieces, nephews and cousins. Our family also shares a very special Christmas tradition, “The Taylor Progressive Dinner”, held the Sunday before Christmas. We travel to three or four different homes, having a different course at each home, and finishing with the main course at our house. It is a special time and allows family to see each other’s decorations, plus the younger kids love riding with their cousins in different cars to each home. We end the evening with “A Christmas Pageant”, started years ago by Andy’s mother, Bebe, who passed away in 2013. Each grandchild has a part that they read from the Bible’s Christmas story. The younger grandchildren carry pieces of the nativity and then the fourth advent candle is lit. It is a very sweet tradition that has been carried on thanks to the help of Andy’s sister, Terri. I know Bebe is as proud as she was when she was with us. Papa, Andy’s father, enjoys the tradition as well.
MP: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing when you started your parenting journey, what would that be?
Lynda: Looking back to when I first became a mom, I wish I had not worried so much about all the small details. Although there is nothing wrong with “attention to detail”, slow down and enjoy the moments, even the small ones, and everything else will eventually take care of itself. And if it happens to be tomorrow when it does, that’s okay.
MP: What advice would you give to a new mom just starting her parenting journey?
Lynda: Take them to church, snuggle, watch The Wiggles and Barney, attend the school parties, go on field trips and join them at school for lunch. It means so much. More than you know.
MP: Thank you, Lynda, for sharing your story with our readers. Please share any final thoughts.
Lynda: I don’t know why our journey ends up being what it is. All I know is that through it all, I am right where the Lord intended me to be at this very moment. I thank God daily for his gift of this wonderful life I live, and I do my best to be a good wife, mother, friend and business owner.
Lynda Jackson-Taylor is the owner of The Shoppes of My Kids Attic, 401 Coliseum Boulevard, in Montgomery. She is married to Andy and they have six children (Andrew, 27; Nolan, 26; Alicia Ruth, 24; Matthew, 17; Melody, 16 and Sophia, 12).