Today is Mother’s Day.

This day, perhaps more than any other day of the year carries such varied emotions. For some, it’s joyful, a celebration of the best part of their lives. For others, a reminder of abject failure. Failure in their body, in their lifestyle, in their hearts, in their actions, a woman has so many options when it comes to failing at motherhood. Optimists say motherhood is what you make of it. Realists say motherhood is the hardest job you’ll ever love. Pessimists say it is an impossible expectation placed on women.


Here’s the good news.

We’re all right.

Motherhood is all of those things.

This week I remembered one of my significant failings as it pertains to motherhood.

Yesterday I read a somewhat cryptic post from a college friend and sent her a private message to see if she was ok. She’s a single mom with four adopted children. Her oldest who is the same age as mine recently got married and will make her a grandmother later this year. Her second to the oldest, a girl just sixteen, gave her a near heart attack last week when she snuck out of a hotel in Orlando to meet a cute boy she just met.  They hung out making paper airplanes. Besides the heart attack, she almost got expelled and learned some valuable life lessons. Thankfully she survived the learning process. Both of them did.


I was laughingly addressing my younger friend as grandma when I was assailed by a memory. An old memory, rusty, sharp edges, and a bit vague on the details. A very long time ago this friend asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her in an adoption process. For reasons I’ve only recently begun to understand, I couldn’t do this for her. In the end, I also couldn’t tell her no. I wrote from my own fear, loss, and confusion. The adoption did not go through. My heartbroken friend called me, devastated by my knife in her back.

Now, my recollection of the events is hazy at best. It is entirely because of her that we still speak. Her forgiveness was key. It’s only been this past year as I’ve found my birth parents, contacted the children that grew up with them and began meditating that I’ve started to untangle my difficult upbringing. I begin to understand the scared little girl that has run the show for so many years. I’m only now beginning to disarm her.


Today I’m thankful for all the mothers I’ve known and haven’t known. I’m grateful for friends who have shown me motherhood that looks very different from mine. I’m thankful for women who share their struggles and speak their stories. It’s through sharing that we learn we are not alone in our struggles or our situation. Through sharing, we connect and are stronger. We are less likely to be felled by ridiculous, shaming  absolutes. We are free to mother in our own style and show how powerful every mother is. woman-happiness-sunrise-silhouette-40192

0 thoughts on “Mistakes”

  1. I sense a deep regret over that letter. It is good that your friend was able to forgive you and that your friendship remains to this day. Our childhoods can scar us or build us up. Too many people are hurt so profoundly as children. Moving past that is difficult. Carly, I’ve been reading your posts for quite some time now. The picture you have shared allows me to say that you are doing a wonderful job raising your kids. This introspection you’re engaged with is settling some demons and may allow you to become an even better mother, but your goodness shines through regardless of that. Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. Given the amount of random criticism given to mothers by clueless bystanders I can totally sympathize with the “am I doing it wrong” problem and as a human I can totally sympathize with the “why is that scared little girl holding me hostage again” problem (it’s been really bad since dad’s stroke). Hopefully time passes and we all get through these things and meanwhile — however *you* are doing it is just great — you are a wonderful, thoughtful person.

      1. Thank you! I credit the influence of my constant readers and friends online who have really pulled me out the quagmire I started in.
        Happy Mother’s Day Serv…I think you’ve got one of the toughest kids right now!

    2. I regret I wasn’t able to look outside myself at that time and honor someone’s dream that was not my own.
      I love my kids and I try to be a better mom every day. Some days I win, some days not.
      Thank you!

          1. It requires an acceptance of who we are and that isn’t always easy. But you are a good woman. You need to start focusing on your strengths and good points. Don’t forget your negatives but work to change them. Little steps.

  2. My childhood was completely opposite to that of my husbands. When I first met his parents, his mother made the strongest impression. It was like meeting Mrs.Thornton.

    Not that I didn’t learn some from my own mom, but his mother put her children’s best interest 100% first in everything. She wasn’t happy with his choice, but she made our start as easy as possible.

    Was she right to initially oppose me? No, she didn’t know me. Her son and I are still married; he wouldn’t give me up if you offered him Monica Belucci as a trade up. (Although I might. ha ha) She was not happy losing her favorite son and suspicious of any woman she did not know. In hindsight, I can’t blame her, but I understand her sacrifice better now.

    By her example, I learned how important it was for children to always know they come first in your life. For them know they are loved no matter what. That nothing can change the love you have for them. I learned from her to always encourage and nudge them forward in everything they want to do. That there is nothing they cannot accomplish if they wish to. We owe them that secure foundation to help them navigate and succeed in life.

    I saw her happiness light up a room when watching her watch her own children and grandchildren enjoy anything and be happy.

    Years (decades) later, he drives me crazy with his man logic, but I still love her son very much. I know and see how the rest of us benefit by how she raised him with love.

    1. Oi Mrs. Thornton! I remember the first time I met her!
      You’re making me think I like girls too easy. So far I’ve liked all my son’s girlfriends. Hm. I was nervous to meet my mother in law because I was older than my husband. She took very good care of her boys. I’ll leave it at that until we’re drinking soju at Myung Ga in West Valley City. Woot.

      1. Every mother and grandmother any of the men I casually dated took me to meet, wanted me to marry their son. One poor mother asked me several times if she could start announcing her son’s engagement to me a few times. Okay maybe like 5 or 6 times. So it was a complete shocker when Mrs. Thornton totally blanked me from the first time her son introduced us until a few months later when I finally said something. So you probably aren’t easy about son’s girlfriends, just reasonable.
        Married a younger man? Right On! Smart woman you! 🌼

        Well, if you get back behind the Zion Curtain, and want to give me a heads up. We can meet at X-wife’s or somewhere for a drink, or coffee. I’m somewhat easy in the beverage department. I’m usually out of town the last few weeks of July for Comic Con International in San Diego every year though. I’m already a wreak trying to get everything I need to do ready, so maybe a good stiff one now would help relax me. Haha.

        1. I try not to get behind the curtain much, lol. I like to skirt the state as often as possible. But from time to time, I get caught. I’ll message you next time, might be a few years….haha.
          My daughter would kill me to get to San Diego Comic Con. I need to get her there someday, just for fun.

  3. Well you are an educator right? Even if only part time, so . . . if you know Zeesmuse, she could give you my cell number, you could text if you like.

    Caveat, not that it is worth the expense of going, (if you know Kathy Jones, she can attribute to the hell I’ve dragged her into) but if you are willing to participate in my educator panels, I can ask the powers that be to give you a CCI badge.

    I can’t blame you for not wanting to visit behind the Zion curtain. FYI— I generally refer to the point of the mountain before heading into Utah County from Salt Lake County the actual Zion curtain. There is a palatable cultural difference. 🌷

  4. The truth can be painfully hilarious at times. 🌼

    Now if I could just get those white-blondes down past the Zion curtain to quit referring to me as a Lamanite? (Think that’s what they call me.) I keep telling them I’m Mexican, even _if_ my whiter than white hubs can speak Spanish and I can’t so good. (Sigh) haha, seriously, I’m not from another country. 🌷

      1. Getting mother’s approvals was harder than the gauntlet Margret Hale had to deal with.

        After I mentioned the ‘blanking’ to hubs’ he spoke with her. To keep her son happy, she was all nice after that. She wasn’t going to give him up just because she didn’t like me.

        I learned he told her she didn’t get to make this decision for him. I also let her plan the whole wedding. I had never planned on getting married so didn’t have any ideas of what to do anyway. Not that the hubs wanted any input on colors, themes, flowers, etc. He paid for it all though. Later I found out his pre-wedding prep was to pay for a honeymoon suite a year in advance. (He saved the check and I saw it years after we married.) That still makes me laugh so hard even now I’m trying not to laugh. A year in advance. hahaha

        I should mention he paid for most everything to do with the wedding because his mom planned it all, including the breakfast and it would all be done in his home state of Utah. He even bought my wedding dress. I guess there are specific requirements and then one of his sister-in-laws altered it to their appropriate standards for the wedding ceremony.

        But yeah, his choice of wife was a problem, for one, mixed marriages aren’t a common thing around these parts. That was a huge shock to me. (There is nothing one can do about their ethnicity.) I guess his mom and the sister-in-laws all had frequent ‘talks’ with him. Odd that none of his brothers or father brought it up to him. 😉 Anyway, there were lots of hurdles. I occasionally participate in some activities and mostly keep my mouth shut. I still don’t blend in all that well.

        Early in our marriage, (about 3 years in) we were visiting an elderly uncle regularly; he was also an invalid and that was just what his family did every week. At first I went too, seemed the right thing to do. I could not continue after hearing him say when I walked into his room: “Here comes that dirty little Mexican no one wanted (hubs name here) to marry.”

        There were 8 adults and six children in the room when I walked in. No one said anything. Apparently he gets a pass because he was old and rude to everyone. (Why would I be an exception.) I walked out of the room without saying anything. Which is not SOP for me, but what can you fight against in that situation?

        Even if it is painful, I would never give up knowing the truth about anything. 😊

        Sorry for digressing so much from your original post. 🌼🌷🦋

        1. The women are the best and worst parts of Mormonism. I can say that because I spent so many years as one. You are one brave woman, I salute you!

          1. HaHa, well I think I’m too dumb to be afraid of anything most of the time.

            Her son has been worth it, I never planned on getting married, (would never do it again) but life has been happier and much more fun with him than without him. 💕

          2. Glad to hear it!

            For what it’s worth, I’m not suggesting you or I made an error in getting married. Maybe it’s more that we might be aware of the commitment, responsibility it takes and aren’t willing to do it again. At least I’m not.

            I tell friends, (oddly it’s been mostly men friends) when they have gone through a divorce, especially when it isn’t what they wanted; that it takes both people in a marriage to make it work. If one doesn’t want to make it work anymore, it isn’t necessarily the other person’s fault.

            I could be wrong in my reasoning, but it’s what’s held mine together. That, and I still want his ass.

            Also tell most of my buddies that a smart woman gets to choose who she is with. Make yourself worth her time because ultimately, we have all the power. Again, using my own experiences in observing others around me over the years.

            Still would not get married again, not that I’d say No to some tall Brit panty-splash action, but that’s different.

          3. I have SO much to say on this subject. But I won’t here. lol
            There are so many things you don’t know in your twenties. At least, that’s true for me. I got lucky, but in the intervening years I’ve changed. A lot.

          4. Well be sure to let me know when you and where you do have your SAY about this. 😀 Not that I had a relationship with father/sperm donor (he hated me) but I learned most of what I know, (men/women dynamics) watching him as a kid. But it has always worked well for me. haha

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