Tag Archives: family

The List

Okay so I was feeling pretty sorry for myself the other day.  It was one of those “down in the dumps” days.

Someone asked me what I was doing now that I wasn’t “working” and I had a little hissy fit.  Inside.  I try not to have hissy fits on the outside. 

Inside I was screaming, “Leave me alone! I’m getting the laundry done and food is on the table!” She asked about a book and when is it coming and what have I been writing, etc….she started to sound like the parents on the Peanuts.  “Waaa…waaaa….waaa…”

So I did a little “waa-ing” of my own in my head (Why isn’t the book published? Why isn’t the company making millions?  Why isn’t the bathroom redone?  What have I been doing with my time????)   and then proceeded to be irritated the rest of the day.

Clearly, this brought up some issues for me.

Women have it tough today. I know men have it tough too but I can only write about one at a time and today it’s about the ladies.  Here is what’s on the list for the moms of today:

  1. Look good (Yes, I realize I put this first and it’s pathetic but really, if you do everything else on the list and you look like crap, you have failed in today’s world)
  2. Be skinny (see above)
  3. Be a kind and loving mother (who is also a teacher, doctor, therapist, preacher, cook, trainer, driver)
  4. Be intelligent and educated  (they are not the same and both are expected)
  5. Remember birthdays
  6. Make money in a career that you love and are passionate about
  7. Dress well
  8. Have a beautifully decorated home
  9. Volunteer
  10. Have great sex with your husband
  11. Be a compassionate and available friend
  12. Go out socially for drinks with friends and other couples on a regular basis and text, email and call said friends on a regular basis
  13. Read and be able to discuss everything
  14. Go to church and nurture the spiritual life of your family
  15. Do something important (as in write a book, feed the hungry, go on a mission, go on Oprah, sell out Madison Square Garden, score Justin Beiber concert tickets…) and be able to smile politely when the neighbor brags that she has done all of that and ran 5 miles this morning
  16. Plan ginormous birthday parties for your kids
  17. Keep up with the upkeep – nails, waxing, highlighting, working out, possibly nipping and tucking and botoxing, yoga-ing, breathing, meditating, shopping…the list goes on
  18. Sign up for 3000 camps which means being online and ready for the competitive sign up and find a way to pay for all of it
  19. Plan a carpool that involves spreadsheets and year in advance planning
  20. Plan vacations that will thrill and excite everyone in the family and will impress the neighbors and find a way to pay for it
  21. Eat right and feed your family healthy meals every minute of every day while smiling and asking them about their day
  22. Doctors, eye doctors, dentists, orthodontists, dermatologists, OT, PT, speech, tutors, haircuts – make and keep these appointments for multiple children and yourself and your husband
  23. Play dates – don’t get me started with this one – what ever happened to “Go out and play and don’t come home until dinner” (I think it went away with “Honey, be a doll and fix daddy a martini for the road.”)
  24. Keep up on your kids texts, emails, facebook, twitter, instagram and whatever new way they are communicating with the world

I realize we have choices and we do not have to buy into the culture that tells us to do all of this.  However, even if we have the strength and clarity to be counter-cultural in this arena, we are not immune from questioning ourselves and our choices.  Many women wonder…Am I doing enough?  Am I enough? 

When I was young, I wanted to be a mom.  I really did.  I didn’t think about any of those things on the list.  Only about the love I would give and the love I would get.  Being a mom is sacred business.  I don’t want my kids watching me turning it into a burden and a competition.  I don’t want them to see a mom that isn’t satisfied.  Because the truth is, my dreams did come true. 

I didn’t dream about any of  those things on the list.  I dreamed about love.  And I got it. 


My daughters asked me the other day about when I was young.  They asked me what I had hoped to be “when I grew up”.  It was an enlightening moment.  My answer was really uncool and not want they wanted to hear. I wrote a poem about it.   I want to share it with you.  It’s kind of sad but absolutely true and I believe a sign of our times.  It makes me wonder what will be on the “list” for our daughters if and when they have children of their own.   


My daughters asked me “What did you want to be?”
“A mom” I said.
“But what else?” they asked.
“Nothing” I answered.
“C’mon, nothing else? What did you want to do?” they pressed.
“I wanted you that’s all.  All my dreams came true,” I said with tears in my eyes, stunned by this new realization.
They just walked away.
©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved


©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Weather Forecast is Good

Here we are again.

It’s Thanksgiving.

My son asked me the other day, “What are we going to do this year for Thanksgiving Mom?”

What does he mean? We are going to do the same thing we do every year. We are going to have family over. We are going to eat turkey and stuffing and potatoes and too much pie. We are going to watch football. We will play games like Rummikub and Bananagrams and Scrabble. We are going to feel stuffed. We are going to start a diet the next day. C’mon, he should know the drill by now. It’s the same every year.

Does it have to be?

There are things about Thanksgiving that are tradition, they are good and we don’t want to change them such as the turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes and the football. But there are other things that sometimes come up that aren’t as good such as family grievances, grudges, judgments and arguments. There’s something about being with family that takes you right back to the past. You have a role to fill in your family. Maybe you are the youngest or the smartest or the most successful or the screw up or the religious freak or the confrontational one or the alcoholic or the lost soul or the entertainer. There are expectations of everyone at the table.

Does this have to be the same every year?

Can you break out of unhealthy patterns?

My husband was looking at the weather and noticed it’s going to be 60 degrees outside on Thanksgiving. He said, “This changes everything!”

I love that. Indeed, it does.

We can be outside! We can go on a walk! We can jump on the trampoline! (Okay, that’s a little overboard considering last time I tried to do that, it didn’t go so well…why does it make me dizzy and out of breath?)

Outside, we are not bound by any expectation. We are still who we were but we are free to become who we are. The windows and doors are open and there is an air of possibility.

It’s a good metaphor for family and growing up really. We keep what works and we give thanks for those things. We meet at Thanksgiving to remember and to celebrate and to give thanks inside at the table. Then we go outside to create new memories…memories that are based on who we are now.

When the day is over, we face a challenge. Can we leave that door open regardless of the weather forecast?

This year I am grateful to God for infinite possibilities.

©2011 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.   –Leo Buscaglia

My mom introduced me to Leo Buscaglia when I was younger.  Literally.  He had written the book, Living, Loving, Learning and he was signing books at a book convention.  We were there because my parents owned a book store.  I still have my signed copy.  As you can see from the quote above, Leo is full of wisdom and optimism.  He’s my kind of guy.  As my friend said recently, he’s “right in my wheelhouse”.  (I had no idea what that meant but have heard it many times since so apparently it’s a hip thing to say.)

My mom introduced me to other cool things and people too.  I’m not sure I always thought they were too cool at the time.  She took me to a music class with her where we sang songs like “He’s got the whole world in His hands” and “Kumbaya”.  (It was the 70’s). 

I try to introduce my children to good things too.  I want them to know about things that enhance life and bring joy and inspire creativity and encourage authenticity.  We take them skiing and hiking.  We travel.  I do yoga with them (or at least I do it around them).  We go to church and we pray.  We listen to music and watch movies. 

They have seen The Searchers and can quote Cool Hand Luke.  In fact, a few weeks ago, our pastor talked about a scene in Cool Hand Luke and the kids looked pretty proud to know what he was referring to.  My husband and daughter watched The Philadelphia Story the other day. 

We were just in Florida and we were walking on the beach.  It was evening and we were the only people out there.  I suggested we each pick up a shell and think of something that we have in our lives that is not serving us.  This could be anger, resentment, fear, doubt, etc.  We could think of that thing, acknowledge it and then think of that shell as the thing we want to get rid of.  Then we can throw the shells into the ocean so we no longer have that negative thing in our lives. 

My 13 year old daughter said, “NO! I don’t want to do that! MOM, everything is not all about SYMBOLISM!” Since I had no idea what she was talking about, I asked her what she meant by that.  She said, “Everything you see has to MEAN something.  Like that star, (pointing to the sky) is a symbol of blah, blah, blah…”

Part of me wanted to cry, part of me wanted to laugh, part of me understood exactly what she meant.  Sometimes I feel that way too.  Enough already with the meaning, can’t we just read People magazine and think of nothing for awhile?

I’m constantly wondering if I’m laying it on too thick with my kids.  I am trying to share everything with them and sometimes, they just want me to go away.  My challenge is to accept that and still continue to be me regardless of the reaction.

I didn’t appreciate Leo Buscaglia when I was a kid.  I probably rolled my eyes at “Kumbaya”.  But now I see how all those experiences shaped me.  All the language I read or heard when I was younger became part of me. 

I like to picture my daughter as an adult on vacation with her own family, throwing shells into the water explaining what those shells can signify.   She’ll teach her kids what I taught her.  I hope I can be there to see it.

©2011 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved