Tag Archives: family

Lessons and Laughs from our Dads

You can do it… “I’ve gotcha”

Thank you all so much for your comments and stories about your dads! I laughed, I cried, I remembered.

Many of you talked about your dad’s sense of humor, saying, “He loved to laugh” or “Sarcasm was his strong suit”. Another reader shared, “My dad is funny and taught me the power of laughter. Once in intensive care and fighting for his life, he insisted on being funny for the nurses and family”.

One friend remembers her dad commenting, “You couldn’t put a down payment on a free lunch.”

Many remembered their dad’s good advice. “Life is precious”, you have to have “balance”, “keep reaching, and “keep the faith”. Some remembered their fathers as “firm but fair”.

There were many comments about being blessed to have our fathers and feeling lucky if our dad is still around.

Many said “he was a great man” or “I miss him”. Some said they miss “his wonderful hugs”. One reader wrote, “The best thing my dad said to me is “I am so proud of you!””

I loved this comment about the high school years. “I was being grilled about the previous night’s activities or a friend he didn’t think was a good influence. He would ask a straight forward simple question. After I answered his question with “I don’t know”, he would raise his voice with exasperation and say,” Well, who should I ask?” This usually lightened the mood and maybe even got a chuckle out of both of us!”

I love the practical advice. “You can win a game on free throws” and “You can’t get lost in Chicago, it’s a grid”. This one makes me laugh because it’s something my husband would say, probably when I am actually lost in Chicago and calling him for help. One friend’s father sat him down to have the “sex” talk and said, “There’s a lot of bad shit out there.” (That’s it, end of story.)

Many fathers said, “The older you get, the smarter your parents get” which is so true. One dad told his daughters to use their heads “for more than a hat rack” and “don’t take yourself too seriously”.

Another good piece of advice, “There is nothing out but trouble after 12 am so be home by midnight Cinderella”. I especially love that he added the “Cinderella”. Many dads had nicknames for their kids. My friend Maggie remembers her dad greeting her with, “What’s your story, morning glory?”

My dad loved to answer with a little quip. When we were out to lunch and someone mentioned a tip, my dad would say, “I’ll give you a tip. Stay out of jail.” One reader commented that when someone would say “Have a good day”, her dad would answer, “I always have a good day, can’t stand the other kind.”

It never failed for us when we were at a restaurant. My dad would get the bill and say, “Whoa…did somebody break a window?”

My friend said her dad would tell her, “I’m going to Minnie’s room to watch the parade” which now she realizes meant he was going to a bar with the guys.

One reader shared that her dad is battling pancreatic cancer yet he continues to fight with humor and grace. She said this has given her a lot of time to think about what he has taught her. Here are some of the lessons she shared: Perspective — as kids, when we were whining he would cut us off with “that is the saddest story I have ever heard”. I find myself using on my kids. Keep it in perspective! Being impressed by hard work — my dad gets choked up by a success of a new restaurant or story in the newspaper. Loyalty — my dad has always been there for me. Always. You are there for others. Humility — though brilliant and “well known” in his field you wouldn’t know it as Dad doesn’t brag of his successes, he makes others feel comfortable. Support — my dad is my biggest fan. That is a great feeling and allows me the courage to move ahead.

I was especially moved by stories about how much dads loved their wives (our moms). It is a real blessing to see this as a child. One friend commented that her dad would always say, “I love that woman” referring to his wife. They were married 49 years before he passed.

Love is the general theme here and of course, laughter too. We don’t always remember the exact words but we remember the feeling. We remember the smiles, the twinkling eyes and the hugs. I remember the feeling of knowing that my dad loved me no matter what happened. There was someone who would always be on my side, rooting for me, cheering me on, and telling me I was beautiful and smart and worthy.

My dad had many great lines including, “Don’t let anyone else spoil your good time”. I loved his simplicity. If I was throwing a temper tantrum about something, he would look at me and say, “Get serious”. Or before Sunday school each week he would ask me very seriously, “Who made the world?” and I would have to answer, “God made the world”.

Simple stuff…yet profound.

Thanks to all the dads out there. To all the dads that are in the midst of the diapers and strollers and bottles and sleepness nights…what you say matters, what you do matters. To all the dads out there in the middle of grade school and homework and sports and coaching…what you say matters, what you do matters. To all you dads in the middle of middle school and high school and hormones and battles and disciplining and wondering and fearing and hoping and praying…what you say matters, what you do matters. To all you dads out there with grown up kids who are dealing with joys and disappointments and college and jobs and marriages and grandkids…what you say matters, what you do matters. Because we never get too old for our dads.

You “lift us up” when we are young and you continue to lift us up as we grow.

I think my favorite thing my dad said was his answer to me when I would tell him I loved him. I would say, “I love you Dad” and he would answer, “I love you MORE.”

What a gift. Thanks Dad.

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

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