Shop the fall collection ➔

Growing up, I never fit in. I was that awkward girl who could never really relate to anyone, the girl who preferred to read or roam the woods rather than play with friends because I was more comfortable alone.

On multiple occasions, I overheard whispered conversations between my mom and our family or friends asking if there was something wrong with me. Why was I so odd? Was she sure I was normal?

The only person who ever saw and loved me for who I am (aside from my husband) was my father. He embraced my weirdness and encouraged my love of books, my curiosity for history and science, and truly seemed to like me. Not just love me—but like me.

I would wait up until midnight or later for him to come home from work, long after my mother and brother had fallen asleep because I yearned for that connection, that acceptance, that appreciation that I was someone special and I was perfect just the way I was.

RELATED: I’ll Always Be My Daddy’s Girl

That never changed . . . until I had my firstborn.

My husband and I named our son after both our fathers because they made such an incredible difference in our lives.

And while my dad had always been there for me before my pregnancy, my son’s arrival changed everything.

I wasn’t prepared to be a mom, which was hard enough, but my son is what the experts call “high needs,” and he has been that way since the hour he was born. Instead of baby snuggles, he twisted and squirmed and hit and kickedevery single minute. He cried almost every single hour of every single day for the first six months he was alive, and he didn’t sleep.

My husband and I were at our wits’ end—we were fighting, snapping at each other, and basically just trying to keep our son alive and relatively happy (read: five minutes without crying) while staying sane at the same time.

My dad seemed so happy to have his own grandson for the first week. I remember the turning point when he came around to mow the lawn (we rented his guest house right next door), and I was outside crying and trying to rock my son to stop him from crying.

My dad pulled him onto his lap, tried a few things, furrowed his brow when nothing worked, and handed him back. Are you sure he’s not sick? Are you sure you’re doing everything right? Are you sure nothing’s wrong with him?

And in that moment, I heard my family’s whispered concerns from when I was young: Are you sure she’s normal?

After that, a few babysitting experiences went awry. My dad and stepmom would call us 20 minutes after we dropped him off and sat down to dinner and ask that we come back and pick him up because he wouldn’t stop crying. Whenever we visited, we would ask if my dad wanted to hold his namesake—he’d shake his head and say he’d rather not.

Every experience would bring those memories back, and they made my heart sore. My dad saw and loved who I was when no one else did, but when it came to the new, most important person in my life, he reacted just like my other family members did to me. And it hurt to think that he was turning into them, just because he wouldn’t put in the time and the patience to not only bond with his grandson, but to help us survive that difficult first year.

We ended up moving to be closer to my husband’s family, who were unperturbed by my son’s antics and needs, and who are now a huge part of his life. We have yet to see my dad and stepmom after almost two years.

My heart still hurts at what transpired between my dad and me.

Our relationship has become strained, although to our credit, we both try to stay in touch and talk. But it’s still hard, and I don’t think it will ever be what it was.

RELATED: Dear Uninvolved Family, I’m Sad You Don’t Care Enough to Know Us

My son is difficult, I’m the first to admit that. His terrible twos started by about month six, and they’re still going strong. But despite that, he is one of the most precious people I’ve ever known.

While he throws tantrums and screams and hits and kicks, it just shows his incredible passion and his strength—something he’ll most likely need in the future. When he’s calm, he has the sweetest smile and the cuddliest hugs that make my heart melt. When he’s angry, he’s angry. When he loves you, he loves you fully and completely, and that makes up for all his difficult moments.

I wish my dad had made more of an effort with my son instead of writing him off like everyone did to me when I was younger. Just like Dad saw something he liked in me, he would have found it in my son, too.

It’s still painful. But I can only hope that one day, he’ll try to see my son for the beautiful person he is—and build a relationship with him before my son gets old enough that he understands he was put to the side because he was thought of as “abnormal.” That is my hope and my prayer every single day. And if that doesn’t happen, then at least my son will know his parents love him to the moon and back without reservation, even when he’s at his worst.

Her View From Home

Millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith. Join our growing community. 1,000+ writers strong. We pay too!   Find more information on how you can become a writer on Her View From Home at https://herviewfromhome.com/contact-us/write-for-her//

An Open Letter to Grandparents of Kids with Special Needs

In: Kids
An Open Letter to Grandparents of Special Needs Kids www.herviewfromhome.com

Dear Grandparents of Kids with Special Needs, You are the grandparent of a child with special needs. This makes you awesome, brilliant, remarkable, and treasured! Do you realize you offer our family something that no one else in the world is able to offer? As a mom of children with special needs, here’s some really important information I want you, my parents and parents-in-law, to know: 1. You give our child sweet unconditional love, and for this I thank you. Do not ever underestimate how much your unconditional love makes a difference. There was a day my son came to...

Keep Reading

I Hoped Becoming Grandparents Would Change My Absent Parents

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Grandfather holding child's hand

Everything that is good about me as a parent was learned from my own parents. They have given me a deep insight into what it means to be a good parent and a good grandparent. Their parenting approach taught me how to love freely and to make sure my children know how much they are valued. They taught me the importance of love without conditions.  Yes, my parents taught me so many invaluable lessons, and I am deeply grateful to them. But, the lessons I learned from them didn’t come from their successes as parents. No, all of the lessons...

Keep Reading

To the Grandparents Who Live Far Away, We Feel Your Love

In: Grown Children, Kids, Living
middle aged couple video chat on computer with grandkids

Dear out-of-town grandparent, I see you in your house over there. Too far for me to see, but familiar enough for me to envision. I see you as you live your days in that place so far away. I know your thoughts turn to the faces of your grandchildren more times than you can track, even when their hugs are miles apart. I know you have an identity. It varies from retiree, to full-time employee, to friend, to mom. I know the distance between us does not make “grandparent” any less than your most preferred identity. I see you look...

Keep Reading