Tag Archives: Parenting

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.

 

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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

The Last First Day

Be still my heart.

This is the Last First Day.

My oldest is a senior in high school.  Lord, hold me.

How did we get from this:

 

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To this:

 

 

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It seems impossible yet it’s happening all around me.  Kids are growing up.

Last night I went up to Natalie’s room to tuck her in.  Yes, I still like to tuck her in. That’s normal, right? If not, don’t tell me. It just so happened that the other kids followed me last night. That’s totally normal too, right? Is it also normal that I made her lunch today and I might have suggested some cute earrings and a ponytail?  SHE IS ALMOST EIGHTEEN.  You guys…I cannot cut the cord.  I cannot stop.  Seriously, send help.

So there we are, all three kids and mom, snuggling in her bed, tucking her in.  As a mom, I was in heaven.  ALL MY BABIES WITH ME. You guys…I could not help it. I started crying and talking about when she was young and how much I love her and all the feelings and thoughts.  She smiled and patted me, “It’s okay Mom.” “I know Mom.” “Don’t worry, Mom.”

We talked about how it’s the last of the family years. You know, the ones you look back on and say, “Remember when…” Those memories of all the kids in the house, of all the chaos and the mess and the laughter.  I just kept going on and on.  I think they were just stunned, staring at me and murmuring, “It’s going to be okay Mom”.  But yet, they didn’t leave.  They didn’t run out or tell me I’m lame or look at their phones.   They listened.  They let me have my moment. And then a miracle happened.  They let me pray. For them. For me. For dad. For all the moms and kids and teachers and all the world. Amen.

Everything is changing.

But not yet.

We’ve got this year.

I keep reminding myself that with endings come new beginnings and I love new beginnings.  I remember so vividly when it was just me and Natalie during the early days when her Dad went to work and the others weren’t born yet. Just us.  I made mistakes with her. I was lost and confused and usually clueless and she stuck with me.  She didn’t have a choice of course. Where was she going to go?  Plus she didn’t know all mothers didn’t cut grapes into quarters because they were afraid of choking and she didn’t know or care if our house was messy or if I was messy.  I pushed her in the stroller and I took her to the park and I read books to her and we met friends together. We were figuring it out.  I can’t help but think she has a different understanding of me…one only the oldest child can have…from the days when it was just us and we were together in that new beginning.  She was so trusting.  Can you stand it? I mean, aren’t you just so HONORED to be in this?  I’m in awe of this motherhood thing.

Crying again…gotta go.

Praying for all you moms who are feeling all the feelings today.  Let’s vow to treasure the gift of our kids…whenever and however we can for as long as we can.

These are the days we will remember.

©2015 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

It’s Okay

My mom told me a story once.  It was about me in grade school.  My teacher, Mr. G, told my mom what happened.  He said he was helping me zip up my coat and the zipper broke.  He said, “Oh, Susan, I’m so sorry” and he said he felt really bad like it might be his fault.  But he told my mom that I made him feel so much better.  I just looked at him and calmly said, “It’s okay. My mom won’t be mad.”

This story has always stuck with me. Now that I’m a Mom I realize she shared that story with me because she is proud of that moment.  I couldn’t have explained grace or kindness at that young of an age but I knew it because my mom taught me.  Just by the way she lived.

I want to be that kind of mom.

As you know, we moved to Texas a few months ago and it has been amazing.  I am  processing so many things, it’s tough to write about it.  I start and stop because there is so much to say and I want to say it all but I don’t think it’s time yet. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I’ve been trying all along to just roll with whatever is going on.  I don’t always succeed.  I’ve been saying, “It’s okay” to the kids a lot.  I’ve been showing up, meeting people, asking questions, laughing, staying open, trying to manage my expectations.  All along, saying to my kids, “it’s okay” and trying not to fly off the handle at the little things.

The other day I went grocery shopping and the refrigerator was loaded to the max.  I opened the door to get something out and strawberries and blueberries flew everywhere! I was not calm.  I yelled, “OH S**T – NO -UGH!”

You know what happened?

All three of my kids came running.  They saw me on the floor and they got down with me to pick up the fruit.  They said, “It’s okay Mom”, “It’s no big deal Mom”, “Don’t worry, we can wash the fruit Mom”.

I couldn’t have been prouder at that moment.  Or more grateful.

I will remind them of that story one day.

The way they offered me kindness and grace and understanding.

It was just a tiny moment, but to me…it was huge.

I don’t know where they will go to college or what their jobs will be or who they will marry or where they will live.

But I do know they will be okay.

They know it too.

And that gives my heart rest.

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

 

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