Tag Archives: Daughters

To My Daughter with Learning Differences

Update!!! So excited this  was also shared on Huffington Post! Click link to check it out!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/to-my-daughter-with-learning-differences-whom-i-once_us_573a3382e4b06dede18b9937?hd45lep4nfyctyb9

This letter was written and submitted to The Mighty before I posted it here.  It is also posted on www.themighty.com with a few minor edits. I’m so grateful to my daughter for letting me share her story.  I pray it encourages others.  

Dear Daughter,

Thank you for being my child. I need you. Thank you for being you.

Although I never thought I’d say this, I’m grateful for the struggles we have had surrounding your ADHD and dyslexia and sensory issues. While I know for you, this has made school difficult, and it has made life challenging, I want to go on record and say that you have made me a better person.

I spent years wishing you were different. I didn’t want you to have to suffer. I have to admit it and we’ve talked about it before…it’s not easy to parent a child who is struggling. You become a mom who is struggling. You look at all the kids who are “thriving” and you wish they were your children. You start to resent the other moms. You close down and protect and build walls. I did all of that.

But you know what else I did? I fought for you. I fought with you. We stood together and reckoned with the future. Sometimes our fists were up and sometimes our hearts were open but we were in it. We were strong and courageous. Together.

I told you that you could do anything and you listened. You did it. High school graduation is upon us and you are headed to college.

 

natalie book

I think back to kindergarten and the teacher telling me that you didn’t quite understand the letters. In second grade when you were formally diagnosed with a learning disability, they kept saying, “She understands, she’s so smart, she just can’t decode the letters”. Or “She knows the material, she just can’t get it on paper”.

While often we were focusing on the decoding and the “treatment”, we tucked away the truth, “She’s so smart, she understands” in our hearts and we believed. I hope and pray that’s what you heard.

We had years of doctor appointments and therapy and meetings at school and tutoring and scary trips to the neurologist and so many questions. We fought for extra time on tests and notes written out. The paperwork alone takes up a whole room.

We were blessed with a school district that had resources and teachers who understood. Except for a few losers. Remember the one time we were so happy you got a D- we jumped up and down and cheered? Remember how I called your one teacher an “Asshole who doesn’t understand”? Well, I stand by that. Some people don’t get it. But because of you, I do get it. I am so grateful to be firmly planted on the side of understanding and compassion.

You can always be assured we’ve got your back.

Oh how I worried about you. I sought to understand you. I didn’t understand you. I cried and felt sorry for myself. My sense of entitlement was called into question. That one time when I was complaining to Dad and he said, “It’s not about you” was a moment of truth that changed the way I parent and live.

In an effort to get you what you needed, I called in the experts and I read the books and I prayed in a way that required surrender and trust. You gave me courage and you taught me to ask for help and you brought me closer to God.

You are heading off to college next fall and while I know I am not always a perfect mother, I can honestly say you are the perfect child for me.

I read a quote the other day that said, “Why do you keep trying to change the people God sent to change you?” This hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m sorry for trying to change you.

I think at times I might have justified my desire for you to change by explaining that it would just be easier for you if you were “like everybody else”.

I take it back.

Can I take it back?

You are a gift. You have changed me for good.

This is only the beginning. Now you get to go out and bless the world. I will be cheering you on forever. I’m thankful that I have been close enough to see you…God’s unique, beautiful creation…becoming.

So thank you daughter, for helping me become a better me.

And thank you God.

For knowing what I need and giving her to me.

I’m forever grateful.
©2016 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

In the New Year, I Will Wear Jeans That Fit

 

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I was trying on jeans the other day.  I found a box with a bunch from years past and I tried them all on.  Every brand was in there.  And every size. All the styles…skinny, flared, boot cut, boyfriend, ripped, cropped, light, dark, stretchy, bedazzled.

They represent all the different phases of my life.  There is the young stage, the mom stage, all the sizes up and down the pregnancy years, the fancy going out jeans, the run around town jeans, the ones you wear with your boots and the ones that can handle heels. Some have been tailored to fit like a glove, others hang low, hand me downs from my husband, ripped and torn and way too roomy.  Some have paint splats from my days of painting furniture.  Some are ripped on purpose, others from wear.

There is no other item of clothing that I love more.  Jeans are my jam.  I feel like myself in jeans.  However, I’ve realized that more times than I care to admit, I have worn jeans that make me feel “not myself”.  Trying on all of these jeans the other day, I realized I’m ready to move on.

I’m not saying I won’t keep them. I will pack them away in a box to pull out when I feel like reminiscing.  I will think of them like a living, fashion photo album.  I will love them and appreciate them but I won’t long to be in them.

I have grown up.  I am wiser and a little wider.  And it’s okay if they no longer fit.

In the new year, I will wear jeans that fit. I will put them on like a comfy blanket and I will be warmed.  I will wear them like a boss with my boots and my big blingy Texas belt buckle.  I will wear jeans that make me feel like me.  The real me.  The 46 year old me.  The one who is brave and kind and thoughtful.  The me that understands where she has been and is joyfully expectant about where she is going.  The peaceful yogi me and the silly, loud, singing at the top of her lungs me.  The me that likes to eat and hike and dance and laugh and travel.  The me that mothers teenagers.  The me that humbly understands how small I am.  The me that knows what needs to be done and can do it.  The obedient me. The rebellious me. Flaws and mistakes and successes and all of it.  I like it.  I own it.  I love me.

I have earned this confidence.

You have too.  You’ve earned the right to shine in whatever fits you.

Let’s do this.  Let’s strut together out into the world.  Confident and courageous. Bold and strong. Let’s show our daughters what aging really looks like.  I can see it now and it’s beautiful.

A bing band of women, walking together arm in arm, worthy and beloved, comfortable in their skin…and their jeans.

© 2015 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™

 

 

Clapping and Crying with all the other Moms

I always weep at endings.

The end of the school year slays me every time.

More than any other ending, it marks time for me. The slash on the calendar is dark blood red. This ending has been earned. Yet I don’t want it.

The door closing feels heavy and even though I know I have no power to stop it, I feel like running toward it, asking nicely if it could take it’s time…close slowly…tenderly…give us a few more days.

The slamming seems final. And it is.

Another year of lunches and rides and notes and homework…the cycles of sports and choir and band and art…the friends that hurt and the friends that helped us heal…the joy of newness and the scary stuff…the failing and fumbling and the tears.

All the laughing and running and playing is dying down over here.

No more Barbie Jeep, no more sparkly streamers hanging from handlebars.  No one wants to play on the slip and slide.  I remember days of baby pools and strollers and swing sets…the messiness…the laughter…the living.

Star Wars figures have taken their place on the shelf…dusty and alone.

I’m wandering around the house trying to look busy (to who? I don’t know? The busy police?)…trying to be busy to take my mind off the ending.  But I just wander…not really understanding how I feel.

I look at the bookshelf…a safe place to get lost for a while.  The books mark our journeys from Junie B. Jones to John Green and I can’t seem to part with any.  It’s like a living scrapbook of words that have fed our souls and kept us company.  We will never have too many books. They are our friends…constant and reliable.

I just saw a friend who is moving in a week.  She welcomed us when we moved into the neighborhood 11 years ago.  We have had many a cup of coffee and a glass of wine while the kids played and the years passed. I love her. She was boxing up things and I was in her empty house and I just couldn’t take it.  We both just stood there and cried. No words.

Another ending.

I always weep at endings.

The last of my kids finish up at elementary school this year.  The adorable, loving, little, everyone knows your name elementary school.  The place where they have taught and nurtured and loved my kids for 11 years.  Talk about the end of an era.

We “Clap out” our kids at the end of school.  All the parents line up and clap while the 5th graders march out.  I think they should call it the “Cry out” for me.  I’m anticipating weeping at that ending too.  Hey! We should call it the clap and cry out…clapping and crying at the same time pretty much sums up motherhood.

Weeping seems bad, right? Like I’m unhappy. But I’m not. I swear.

I’m just confused.

How did I go from eagerly anticipating my first baby to having three kids out of grade school (and two in high school!)?

How did I go from spoon feeding peas to worrying about drinking and driving and dating?

My son said the other day that he “hates change”.  He said, “Change is bad”.

Oh no I thought…I have to help him see change in a positive light…change is the only thing we know for sure will happen.  We have to get used to it.  We have to accept it.  It’s not bad…right?

Maybe he thinks it’s bad because I’m over here crying looking at baby pictures.  What have I done?

I specifically remember my mom talking to me about this.  Many times.  It’s an ending sure but it’s a beginning too…or it’s a beginning and it’s exciting and you are happy but the reason you are crying is because it’s an ending too…how many times over the years are we in that space…that in between…the ending and the beginning.

The sadness and the excitement…the saying good-bye and saying hello.  It doesn’t even matter how many times…I always weep at endings.

I remember once I was crying on the phone to my mom during the college years…I was distraught…things were changing…I just had a break up…I was down.  This is what she said to me…no joke…and it worked…”Honey, seriously, stop crying…wash your face, put on some lipstick, get a Diet Coke and Get out there.”

Diet Coke and lipstick…the cure all.

And now I’m the mom. I have to buck up and give the advice now.

Of course I can’t tell my son to put on lipstick.  What’s the equivalent for a boy?

And telling them to have a Diet Coke seems archaic like I didn’t get the memo…so do I say…have an organic green smoothie?  That doesn’t have the same ring to it.

How about this?

Change is part of life.  It’s difficult and it’s okay to cry.  When we cry, we know we are most alive because our heart is feeling things.  When we are sad to move on it means we have loved where we have been and that is a gift.  A treasure.  You are building your story and God is moving you along as you become who you are meant to be.  You take all of this with you.  All of the memories, the people, the experiences, the feelings, the knowledge, the wisdom…you are like a sponge and you absorb it all.  Things are changing yes and so are you – you are ready.  Be grateful. Take a minute.  Let the grateful tears fall…acknowledge that you are a little scared of something new…recognize that you were comfortable and that felt good.  But part of life is getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  Learning that you can do hard things.  Trusting that all will be well.  It’s time to move on now.  You do not go alone.  Dad and I are with you every step of the way.  And God is with you…he knows what you need and He can’t wait to give it to you.  Life is amazingly beautiful. Get out there.

Step joyfully into this new adventure

I will be stepping out with you…clapping and crying all the way.

graduation first step

©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved