Susan Badeau

There are only two lasting gifts we can give our children - one is roots, the other is wings

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Red Clover, Red Clover, I'm Coming Right Over

Posted by Sue Badeau on August 12, 2013 at 4:40 PM


For some, the feeling of being “home” is deeply rooted in a specific place.


But for those who grew up in foster care, or military, circus or missionary families or those whose physical homes have been destroyed by fire, flood, tornado, hurricane or war, home is not generally defined by a place.


When home is not defined by a place, what is it that makes a person utter those powerful words, “Home at last?” It might be the taste of grandma’s best pie, or the smell of poppa’s cigar. Maybe it is the sight of the sun peeking over a mountain, or the sound of lake water lapping the shore. Sometimes it is a song, or a letter or a favorite blanket. Or maybe a small homely flower.


I was out-of-town this past week, attending and speaking at a conference in Toronto, Canada (see www.nacac.org for more info). I had an amazing time, connecting with old friends, making new ones, teaching, sharing, learning, being inspired, laughing, crying (and even selling some books!).


Yet, as wonderful as it was, there was nothing like sleeping in my own bed last night. And this morning, it felt great to be out in my own neighborhood, taking my morning walk.


As I generally do, I was looking for pockets of beauty while walking, and there were many to be found. Some of the flowering plants were vibrant and stunning. And yet, it was this one little faded red clover near the sidewalk just a block from my house that made me stop in my tracks.


Red clover says “home” to me. When I was a child growing up in Vermont, we learned a lot about the history of our state. In fourth grade, I learned that the humble red clover – not a fancy-pants rose or snooty orchid, but a simple, common red clover – is the state flower.


Fourth grade was a tough year for me. I was fat, and teased (maybe these days we would call it bullied) mercilessly both about my weight and for being perceived as the “teacher’s pet.” I kept a diary that year and it is filled with self-loathing, “I hate my life,” and even “I wish I was dead.” I shudder.


I am thankful I had a loving family and a tiny, fragile but genuine faith that kept me grounded and reminded me that I was loved, or who knows how deep into my heart that root of darkness might have travelled? I never felt I could measure up to the “cool” kids, or the “popular” kids. I would never be on a sports team (too fat), nor sing in the choir (too off-key), star in a school play, be the first one invited to a birthday party nor be elected president of anything.


And so, in the midst of that childhood season of angst, I discovered that the red clover was the state flower, and it gave me hope. If a plain, humble, unremarkable little blossom like that could aspire to become the official flower of the entire state – what could I aspire to? New possibilities opened in front of my eyes, and I decided to start writing poetry and working on getting Girl Scout Badges. I could be “somebody!”


Years later, when our oldest six kids – teen siblings who had been separated in foster care - joined our family through adoption, one of them, our son Fisher, used to come with me and speak on panels about the importance of family and a sense of “home” even for older teens.


“This is a big deal,” he wrote once, “People need to realize that everyone needs a chance to believe they can be somebody.”


He went on to add that it is within the safety and love of a family that everyone, even teens with challenging histories and difficult behaviors, can feel safe enough to believe that they too can one day, “be somebody.”


Red Clover says home to me – and reminds me that I can “be somebody.”


What does this for you?

Categories: Building Bridges of Hope

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2 Comments

Reply Vonda Skelton
8:51 PM on August 15, 2013 
Beautiful, Sue! And you're beautiful inside AND out! What a blessing it is to count you as my friend. I praise God that He helped you through that difficult time and brought you to where He wanted you to be...loved and respected by many!
Reply Sue Badeau
8:16 AM on August 16, 2013 
Ah thanks Vonda - I am privileged to call you a friend TOO!