I’ve made a mess of things.

Really, truly. Please read this and make a mental note of WHAT NOT TO DO.

Last Sunday my oldest son received his patriarchal blessing. Can you imagine how I’ve anticipated this day? Ben is a brilliant, sweet, astonishingly mature kid who will clearly change the world. And I could hardly wait for the patriarch to outline exactly how.

My own blessing was a disappointment– short and vague. And unconsciously, I think I expected Ben’s blessing to make up for mine in every way.

We were in the patriarch’s office for less that 15 minutes and Ben’s blessing was short. And pretty vague.

I said very little on the drive home, but since I have no skill whatsoever in hiding my feelings, Ben read my disappointment and became angry with me. “It’s a perfectly good blessing! Why don’t you like it? Why aren’t I ever good enough for you?”

And all I could do was cry. Cry because I’d ruined his moment, because I’m so terrible at faking happiness and because he’s always been good enough for me. Always.

I, of course, want Ben to do well, to make up for every opportunity I didn’t take, to fulfill his marvelous potential. But always, before I get too ambitious, I think of my friend Judy who buried her 17 year old son five years ago.


Joe Wolf was a normal, active boy. He played sports and practical jokes and traveled widely with his father and younger brother. On Super Bowl Sunday 2001, Joe was walking home from church when he was struck by a car and suffered massive brain injuries.

While Joe hovered between life and death, his mother, Judy, had a dream.

Joe was an infant again and she was cradling him in her arms. She carried him to the top of a mountain where angels awaited her. Awestruck, she knew that she was at the altar of God and she thought that she was there to give her oldest son back to his maker.

Her heart breaking, she extended her precious burden to the angels standing sentinel. But they wouldn’t take him. Anxiously she tried to hand him to one seraphim after another but each one turned her away. Slowly it dawned on Judy that Joe was hers to carry.

And so, she did.

Evading death, Joe stabilized and then remained at about the stage of a three-month-old infant. He smiled and laughed and recognized his favorite people but he could neither walk nor talk nor eat by himself. Each day, he was simply glad to greet the morning.

“The old Joe,” Judy told me, “wouldn’t have put up with this for a minute. But the new Joe seems perfectly content with life. We are learning to be content, too. You have to let go of the idea that tomorrow he might say a word or move his arm differently. Joe is the most ‘in the moment person’ I’ve ever known. Every day he begins anew.”

Watching Joe reminded me to be happy in the present, But what he lost helps me appreciate progress and change. I now see my children’s development as the miracle it is.

Three years after his accident, Joe passed away. His wheelchair was given to a charity, his night nurse moved out and the complicated bed and system of pulleys and slides for lifting him were dismantled. The burden of his daily care disappeared, but for Joe’s family, his absence is even heavier to bear.

“When something catastrophic happens in your life,” Judy told me, “you find out how deeply your roots of faith grow. If you’ve only been going through the motions, relying on others for your faith, your roots will be shallow. Your faith won’t support you when the storms come. For faith to sustain you, your roots need to lead straight to your heart.”

At Joe’s funeral, she addressed the children in the audience. “I’m going to tell you one of your parents’ great secrets. You know all the fuss they make about your grades and making the team and getting awards?” Her eyes swept through the room as she noted the many children and teenagers filling the chapel.

“This competition, this drive to measure up: It’s all a show. Your parent’s are in love with you anyway. From the moment you were born they adored you — all you had to do was show up.”

That’s it, Ben. Thanks for showing up.

But really– who messes up their own kid’s patriarchal blessing day? Has anyone else been guilty of living their dreams through their children? Does anyone else expect too much? Do you think Ben will ever for give me?


  1. Faith.Not.Fear

    August 13, 2009

    Wish my kids could understand, and I could express, that idea better!
    What you said remined me of two of my children who struggle with perfectionism to a degree.
    When they started to say, I want to do better, I naively encouraged them to do all they could to make it up, excited to see them get A’s.
    I didn’t realize that for them, that meant that I wasnt’t satisfied with a B or C in a class — for goodness sake, I should’ve shown them my grades! B’s and C’s were the norm!
    I’m still struggling to know how to help them feel good for who they are. You’re right — despite frustrations, I’ve loved them all along! And so does Heavenly Father! He’s my consultant now — I’m trying to be a better listener & obey-er, for my children’s sake!
    D&C 18:10 — that includes us, too!

  2. Justine

    August 13, 2009

    I know I too often expect my kids to behave as adults.

    But sometimes it’s the rotten things that happen to us that remind us how much it is just about showing up. I know it was that way for me. I was too dense to truly realize how in love with my kids I was until I realized that I might not be around to see it.

  3. Andrea

    August 13, 2009

    My only child is two years old, so I don’t have a lot of experience there. But I do know, from watching others, that many parents expect too much of their children; I probably will, too. And I’ll probably feel really guilty about it. But I hope that my son will forgive me–I don’t know your son, but if he knows that you love him for just showing up, I think he’ll forgive you too.

  4. Camille

    August 13, 2009

    ohhhhh this is one of the most touching and most beautiful things I’ve read. Thank you for sharing this. I will never forget that line… “just show up.” I need to remember that in my own worth as a daughter (wife, and mother), and let my children konw this as well. What a beautiful thing to say. Bless that mother,and bless you for the love you have for your angel of a son. What is it about moms and their boys? mmmm just so yummy!! if they only knew how much we adore them!

  5. Kay

    August 14, 2009

    Firstly, Ben loves and adores you and always will. Sometimes they forget and forgive the mistakes we make a lot quicker than we do. I personally tend to dwell on things when the rest of the world has moved on.

    As for me, well, GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY. I came from a poor background and difficult family circumstances. I knew early on I had to get out of there and I worked hard to do so. I saw opportunities and took them to progress and make a better person of myself. My childern have it easier in some respects. They have been born in the church to well educated parents who want them to be happy and succeed in whatever way they can. They don’t live with fear, poverty and abuse. One of their problems though is me.

    I don’t want them to miss a single chance. I want them to be good at everything. I want them to succeed at every level. This year after many tears from both of us I agreed to let a daughter give up cello lessons. It sounds like a little thing but became a battle between us. We had spent so much money on those lessons over the years, and given immense anounts ot time to practise, attend concerts, sit exams. She was great at it, even had distictions in her exams, but she wasn’t happy and had wanted to stop for ages. I wanted her to continue and not waste her talents. I felt like a failure because she stopped and I knew I would not have gieven away that opportunity for myself. She told me that I was always more excited than she was whenever she did well. It took me ages to let her stop because I was living the dream of the parent with the clever, talented child. She didn’t fail as a cellist or as a child. I failed as a parent to be loving and understanding.

    I do find it hard to pull back. I want them to succeed (have I said that before)in all ways. I am aware that I need to sit back more. I do admit to being scared that my children will not do well educationally and in their careers. I am terrified that they will not stay active and have strong testimonies, they will not go on missions and marry in the temple. I worry they will blame me later in life for not helping them enough, telling them enough, showing them enough, giving them enough opportunities, supporting them enough, so I push, push, push and really do not know how to stand back and just let them live.

    I often seem to rant when I am on Segullah, why is that?

  6. Selwyn

    August 14, 2009

    Michelle, who DOESN’T stuff up their children’s lives, to some extent?

    Real parents parent. They make mistakes, and yell, and cry and want the best for their kids in spite of those same kids driving them nuts.

    I worry about wrecking Hatro’s ordination to the priesthood and Wong’s baptism, as their Dad is planning on being there. I don’t want to say something, or cry, or do something that will mess up their special day. But I know how important and significant those days are, and I want it to be as special and wonderful as they are. Just like you with Ben.

    Give Ben this post. Talk to him about it, then keep on with what you’re doing. Then try to remember to ask him in 10 years what he remembers about his patriachial blessing day. Chances are if he remembers anything, he’ll remember his blessing, and how you loved him.

  7. Emily U

    August 14, 2009

    I’d forgive you if you were my mom. I’m sure your son will, too.

  8. Michelle L.

    August 14, 2009

    ah, I love my Segullah sisters. Thank you for your sweet and insightful comments.

    Kay– I know all too well about the music ambition. I wanted lessons as a child and never had them, thus I expect my children to cherish lessons and practicing– AS IF! But they do seem to enjoy it more now that I’ve let go. We love your long comments; they always add so much to the discussion.

  9. Sandi

    August 14, 2009

    I once saw an interview with a couple who had been married about a billion years and they were ask how they succeeded in keeping their marriage happy. There answer was “we had no expectations.” The more you think about that the more profound it is. All dissapointments happen because we have an expectation that is not met. Just keep reminding him that he is okay and whatever his life brings is okay. I’m sure you already have.

  10. Marjorie Conder

    August 14, 2009

    Well, maybe it makes a difference about how much of a pattern of conveying that your expectations haven’t been met that there is.
    Last week my guy and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a grand party. It exceded our expectations and my expectations were pretty high. Two days ago I visited with my mother who is 103 (and did come to the party.) She immediately had several criticisms (none of which had or even really do compute in our world). Even after all these years it was a bit deflating. I felt sad and quiet as I came home from visiting my mom. My husband asked me about it. I cried a bit, shrugged and finally said to myself, “It will never change–I just never will meet my mom’s expectations.” So I’m just trying to get on with it and remember a great party, without the black smudge of criticism over it.
    So as a cautionary tale, make sure that you are not conveying a litany of never quite good enough, because it will impact relationships..

  11. Merry Michelle

    August 14, 2009

    I agree with Camille. This was one of the most profound and lovely things I’ve ever read on this site. Thank you, Michelle. I am in love with my boys, I do adore them and bless the day they showed up.

  12. cms

    August 14, 2009

    Seriously. I’m a mess right now. Beautifully written and full of such heart. Thank you for sharing the story about your son. So often we toot our own horns about our parenting triumphs, but never share the lows, which is where the real lesons are.

  13. Merry Michelle

    August 14, 2009

    Amen, Kay, amen. This whole free agency thing is TOUGH and our kids these days seem to be the poster children for it.

  14. Allison

    August 14, 2009

    Thank you for a beautiful post.

  15. jenny

    August 14, 2009

    My mother can only seem to praise her children behind their backs. All 8 of them.
    This leads to a lot of jealousy between siblings as they are always the ones to hear the praise of a brother or sister. I don’t like it, but over the years I’ve come to expect this from my mother and it’s become easier to bear. (I haven’t figured out the sibling/jealousy part yet… we are all adults and yet it still lingers. sigh.)
    So, as a mother I tend to over-correct this and lavish on the praise to their faces. Somehow, we are all working out our own childhoods (the good parts and the bad) on our children. Motherhood is wonderful, joyous, hard and scary all at the same time. Good advice to show up, be there, be present and enjoy the ride. It’s gone all too soon.

    Very touching story, good reminders, and I’m sure Ben will forgive you. How could he not?

  16. Michaela Stephens

    August 14, 2009

    Ben will forgive you. The best thing you can do to help the situation is to study your own patriarchal blessing and show how often it is your own understand of your own blessings that is limited.

    Here’s an example in my own life:

    Sometimes we have to be aware that the way that the patriarch expresses something may be in terms that are different from what we are used to. The patriarch who blessed me told me I would learn a particular skill and I thought he meant X. I would often feel sad that I wasn’t developing the skill of X. It took about.. oh… 16 years for me to realize that the term he used really encompassed the skills of Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y, and Z. And I had been busily acquiring and honing Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,Y,and Z ever since I was 3 years old. (X will come in its time, I’m sure.)

    The other thing I’ve learned about patriarchal blessings is that the meaning of the words (and the experiences they represent) is bigger than the words themselves, just like the experience of reading all the words in the dictionary is much bigger than the mere phrase “reading the dictionary” itself.

    We have to try to see past those small letters on the page to get a sense of the grandeur and expansiveness and nobility in the meaning behind it.

  17. Michelle L.

    August 14, 2009

    Marjorie– you are so right. A habit of expecting too much always leads to sadness.

    And Jenny, I share your habit of lavishing praise on my children– hopefully that makes up for my mistakes!

    Michaela, I love your thoughts. And I have come to find that while my partriarchal blessing isn’t what I wanted, it is what I needed. It tells me to ‘trust in the Lord’ and really, what else is there? I hope I continue to gain insights from it with time.

    Many thanks to every commenter. It feels especially risky to write about my mistakes and I love reading your thoughts.

  18. m&m

    August 14, 2009

    Michelle, this was beautiful.

    Remember that they are children of Heavenly parents first. I firmly believe that part of our parenting is to learn to accept the reality that we WILL mess up, and that is part of the plan – part of our children’s plan. They have to learn to find God. If we could fill every need perfectly, maybe they wouldn’t learn to lean on God.

    And remember, too, that God’s love FOR YOU is infinitely more powerful than a mother’s love that your friend Judy captured. Whatever you feel for Ben, multiply by infinity. And that love is all the more intense and real and available because YOU CARE.

    I love you.

  19. jks

    August 14, 2009

    I think that this experience will help you avoid many other issues in the future. If you can “get over” being disappointed in the blessing because it is Ben’s not yours to experience and to judge. Can you turn over his future spiritual experiences? His mission? His decision to marry? His sealing ceremony? When he blesses his children?
    If you can look at this experience and decide that it doesn’t need to meet your expectations at all, and then avoid having expectations for future situations like this then you will be able to see this mistake as a blessing because you learned something from it.
    I admit I completely understand how you feel and I have tried to learn from my similar mistakes.

  20. Annie

    August 14, 2009

    Oh, yes, I know this in my life, too. So beautifully said and something I have to watch in my own expectations.

    I think (regarding patriarchal blessings & expectations) that many times the general and open blessings are a sign of Heavenly Father’s trust in our own relationship with him and knowledge of the Spirit. Perhaps a little like a signed, blank check. Maybe?

    And underneath it all, what it seems like you were really hoping is that Ben’s blessing would show him how wonderful he really is–help him know what you know about him. I think he knows that, too. Thanks for opening your heart about this…it really rang true to me.

  21. Melissa M.

    August 14, 2009

    Am I guilty of living my dreams through my children? Yes. Do I expect too much? Yes. It’s painful for me to have to face how often I impose unrealistic expectations on my children. I think it’s true, like Jenny said, that “we are all working out our childhoods (the good and the bad) on our children.” I’m trying to accept that I’m just not a perfect mother, and won’t be in this life. The Atonement is for me as well as my children. That brings me great comfort.
    Will Ben forgive you? Yes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Melissa

    August 14, 2009

    Thank you, Michelle. I needed this.

  23. disappointed

    August 15, 2009

    dude, you’re kid is old enough to get his PB & you still don’t know how to put on a happy face and do what’s best for him. shame on you.

  24. disappointed

    August 15, 2009

    sorry, your not you’re

  25. disappointed

    August 15, 2009

    i have to continue…

    ( i was upset and needed a moment to think.)

    this was a big spiritual moment in your son’s life. it had nothing to do with you. your job as his mom is to give him wings so he can soar, not clip those wings with your hang-ups. please get some help.

    and i hope this post wasn’t a plea for others on the internets /blogosphere to tell you what you did was okay. i hate that about this blog. it seems to be a forum for getting others to tell the writers the mistakes they made were okay.

    if my folks did this to me during my PB it would prob hurt for quite some time. now i’m glad i went to mine alone.

  26. Selwyn

    August 15, 2009

    Disappointed – I’m sorry you’re disappointed.

    I don’t believe this post was a plea for “tell me I did good!”. I see it instead as an acknowledgement of the fact that Michelle screwed up a situation that could have been handled better. But she shared that honestly, and asked others if and how they stuff up with their own parenting, and opened up discussion on the fact that we ALL say and do things we really wish we hadn’t.

    Thanks for being gutsy and sharing what you think. Even if I disagree with you =)

  27. m&m

    August 15, 2009

    it seems to be a forum for getting others to tell the writers the mistakes they made were okay.

    I think you could look at it another way. We share a lot here that is pretty personal, and we know that we make mistakes. But it’s helpful to know that there is hope and mercy even when we do. And that is the way I like to look at the interactions and how we try to support each other in our journeys.

    I think it’s pretty clear that Michelle felt awful about what happened. She admitted pretty freely that she goofed. She clearly wants to do better.

    The reality is that the Atonement is big enough to cover her goofs — and yours, and mine. And that hope is what, I think, we often try to help each other remember. I think the majority of us are hard enough on ourselves. We don’t really need others coming in and criticizing us, too.

    In short, I think more often, we as women need help hoping.

  28. joylenskey

    August 15, 2009

    No child will be perfect. Every child will need repentence.

    No parent can model perfection. But we CAN model repentence.

    Our mistakes provide the opportunity to model what they need most…when we are courageous enough, as you were.

  29. Kay

    August 15, 2009

    I love Segullah because it is a sight which is honest and open and non judgemental. As sisters we share, love and support each other. I have taken away so much from different posts to think about and learn from. Michelle is fab for admitting she did wrong. We all have made mistakes as parents, if people really knew half of what I had done as a mummy they would take my children away from me! This post will help countless people think about their actions, even if just for one day.

  30. Kathryn Soper

    August 15, 2009

    Michelle, such a beautiful post. Thank you.

    It occurs to me that your bereaved friend’s words apply to parents just as much as they apply to kids. All the kudos we try to garner as parents? All those gold stars for being extraordinary? They don’t really matter. All we need to do is show up. Be there. Our kids love us in spite of ourselves.

  31. Ben Lehnardt

    August 15, 2009

    A Declaration to Disappointed
    Your harsh words make it obvious to me that you just don’t know enough about my mom. So let me educate you.
    My mom has raised five boys and one girl. Just to help you out that is SIX crazy children. Anyone who doesn’t realize what an accomplishment that is must not appreciate the sacred task of mothering.
    I am old enough to to get my own partirachal blessing and because of that I love my blessing regardless of what anyone says. The way my mom acted was hard for me but it forced me to defend and value my blessing much more than I already did.
    This was a big spiritual moment in my life and seeing as my mom is responsible getting me where I am today I feel like she had the right to come. My mom gave me life, brought me to church on a weekly basis, had me blessed as a baby, baptised, and ordained in the priesthood. Not only this but she has shared years worth of valuable experience and advice. In the end really all she had to do was let me show up and enjoy the benefits of being her son. So in rebuttal this had everything to do with her. On the other hand this had very little to do with you or anyone from anywhere. My mom shared this sensitive experience with the segullah world to share what she has learned and open discussion.
    I don’t know about anyone else but I didn’t hear any pleas for people to tell her what she did was ok. That’s not what this blog is about. To me it’s more about acceptance of people despite their flaws. The perfect people club is very small so new groups have to sprout up.
    Just so everyone knows I love my mom and forgiving her is my decision. And I have. For the rest of you support each other, love each other. We children are good enough at humbling our mothers on our own. For anyone else who has a problem with my mom, back off…I read Segullah.

  32. Ben Lehnardt

    August 15, 2009

    Sorry, I think most of you guys sound like amazing women but I felt the need to defend my mom. I just wanted to clarify that I admire all of you, maybe even dissapointed. What you do is great.

  33. disappointed

    August 15, 2009

    yay ben. i’m sooooo glad you’re okay with everything. thank you for writing. i was kind of worried about you. i felt like you needed someone to defend your position instead of everyone saying we all make mistakes as parents, etc.

    and i’m also relieved this wasn’t a plea for michelle l to get off the hook. whew.

    yes, of course the atonement is big enough to cover everything. if just seems like in life there are times when we really should do the right thing, as in God really wants to see what we are made of. that’s what i’ve found in my life. but sure, the atonement will make up for it when we fall short.

  34. Jennie

    August 15, 2009

    Michelle, thanks for the cautionary tale. I can see myself doing the exact same thing. However, my mother said something really hurtful and thoughtless after my patriarchal blessing. It’s made me want to keep my idiotic opinions to myself where my kids are concerned. I try, but it can be hard when we only want the absolute best for them.

    Ben, you are an amazing kid. I hope some of my six turn out like you! (well, I hope they all do, but let’s be realistic here.)

  35. cheryl

    August 15, 2009

    I seriously screw up everything wonderful in my kids’ lives without meaning to.

    I hover between wanting to teach them how to be polite/socially aware/improve upon their weaknesses and just letting them be kids who make mistakes and learn from ’em. The hovering always ends up with me erring on the side of “teaching them” and I end up just hurting their feelings in the long run. Or short run –because it’s usually only takes a few moments to go from “being helpful” to the whole “I’m not good enough for you” that you were speaking about. And every single day I pray my guts out asking for forgiveness and try again –hoping that I won’t focus on the negatives and just let us all (the whole darned family; husband included!) be happy. Just be happy and positive and optimistic and love each other.

    But this problem of mine is far-reaching, slightly genetic, and will probably plague me (and the poor children) for the rest of my life. I just hope they realize how hard I try to be better.

    And Michelle, you rock the world. I’ve always admired you in many ways –many, many ways (can’t count ’em all!), and I love how honest you are in your writing. Thanks for being so cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. I just realized I haven’t read the comments; looks like this thread was an interesting one! I better get reading…

  36. Michelle L.

    August 15, 2009

    wow, I went to the gym this morning and came home to this (I did bring donuts home, so I am extra popular this morning).

    disappointed– clearly I owe you a hug and a thank-you note. What else would have inspired Ben to write a comment that made me laugh, cry and will be printed up to be read at my funeral some day?

    I’m sure you weren’t the only one who read this and thought I was incredibly selfish– trust me, I am amazed at my own capacity for idiocy! The truth is, even though I write and talk constantly about loving unconditionally and accepting our children for who they are (the Joe portion of this post is from an article I wrote for the Salt Lake Tribune 5 years ago), I still mess up. A LOT.

    We all go through life bumping and bruising each other and ultimately if we talk about it enough and love enough and are honest with each other and turn to God, even the weakest among us will be washed clean by the Christ the Lord.

    And yes, I really didn’t want anyone to tell me that my reaction was OK. Because it wasn’t. But hopefully I’ll save you from some pain of your own.

    Ben these were awesome:

    “The perfect people club is very small so new groups have to sprout up.”

    “We children are good enough at humbling our mothers on our own.”

    I’m tempted to paint one of those phrases on the kitchen wall.

  37. wendy

    August 15, 2009

    Michelle, you’re wonderful. And clearly, you’ve raised a fine son.

    Thank goodness for the atonement, right?

  38. m&m

    August 15, 2009

    f just seems like in life there are times when we really should do the right thing, as in God really wants to see what we are made of. thatโ€™s what iโ€™ve found in my life.

    Sure, that probably happens to all of us. But we can’t decide those moments for others, ya know?

    Ben, so glad you wrote!

  39. m&m

    August 15, 2009

    (one of the things that comes to mind is Eth 12:27) — even in our weakness, God can make strength come from it. I loved how Ben realized that he had to embrace his blessing himself, and perhaps Michelle’s weakness helped him do that even more quickly. In the end, God made her weakness a chance for him to be strong…and I sense that the same is going on for Michelle…a chance to reflect and realize what she can do better.)

    God is amazing.

  40. jenny

    August 15, 2009

    (Back again.)
    After reading all the comments–
    Ben. You are awesome. That was so well said.
    And beautiful.

    So, after reading all the comments, I am thinking that even though Michelle says about her experience this is WHAT NOT TO DO, it ended up being a great blessing and opportunity for important conversation and learning for their family {and vicariously for all of us}.

    I agree m&m {Ether 12:27} : if you are open to it, God can and will indeed make weak things become strong.

    THIS is exactly the kind of uplifting yet *real* post that I come to Segullah hoping to find.

  41. annegb

    August 15, 2009

    I needed this today. It moved me to tears for so many reasons. And I got a laugh out of Marjorie’s 103 year old mother criticizing, then I read her reaction and thought “Oh don’t let me do that to my daughters.”

    I loved every post, even disappointed because that’s really what happens sometimes in blogging. I get that reaction a lot so I know Michelle wasn’t asking for validation. At least it didn’t sound like that to me. Sometimes I’m just pouring my heart out, figuring I’m among friends. I don’t want anybody to tell me it’s ok if I mess up but I don’t need anybody’s condemnation either. I do that really well all on my own. Got that covered.

    Regret is a terrible thing and if anybody’s story can help another avoid it, bravo.

    Ben–what a kid! Best line: “I read Segullah.” That tells you how much he loves his mom.

    Additionally. I wonder if he wasn’t a little disappointed himself. We expect a lot from our patriarchs. Personally I think they should throw in a little “you will go on a trip in the next five years that will teach you much” just to avoid that disappointment. Because, don’t we expect our patriarchs to be a bit psychic?

    On that note, mine was truly portentious. If that’s a word.

  42. m&m

    August 15, 2009

    Just a side note about patriarchal blessings…I find that the older I get, the more layered mine becomes. It has not ended up being what I thought it was at the outset. I still end up being convinced that even a “short, vague” blessing can, over time and in the Lord’s own way, unfold with layers. Just like a simple verse of scripture can mean many different things over the course of a lifetime.

  43. christine

    August 15, 2009

    Maybe we could get a submission about Patriarchal blessings and experiences with understanding and coming to terms with them? Michelle-your humility and sorrow for making a mistake is a great example of turning to the Savior and what a great response of forgiveness from your son!

  44. April

    August 16, 2009

    Patriarchal blessings are such a funny thing! The Patriarch in our Stake is amazing and he gives these long detailed blessings. I always felt uncomfortable about mine on my mission. I didn’t want people to know how many pages it was.(In my stake mine was short) The hard part about the blessing is that The Patriarch’s see the same things it’s just how much they choose to expound on what they see. Where mine say details about my mission, someone else may only know they will serve one.
    I’m sorry you felt dissappointed with the vagueness of your son’s blessing. Often we put so much hope into something, we fail to prepare for how we’ll feel if it doesn’t work out the way we have imagined. All to often our children are the ones who help us to learn about ourselves, from this I imagine you can learn that the length or clearness of a blessing isn’t a reflection of you or your child’s spirituality or Heavenly Father’s love for either of you.
    As long as you have reassured Your son of your love for him and the reason behind your dissapointment, I am sure you will both learn from this moment and maybe even have a good laugh about it in the future.
    Peace to you as you are only human but learning to be Heavenly! ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. Faith.Not.Fear

    August 16, 2009

    Perhaps this is why we’re counselled to keep our blessings private and personal (“It might be appropriate to share a patriarchal blessing with close family members, but it is sacred and should not be discussed lightly.” Ensign, June 1994) — so we won’t be envious or critical.

    I know I was a bit jealous when I first saw that my husband’s was two legal-sized pages, single spaced. Mine is the front & half of the back of a letter-sized page.

    I’ve since realized that they are for us, individually! That mine is for me, and his is for him — neither better than the other. Takes a lot of burden off!

  46. Sage

    August 20, 2009

    Michelle and others who have responded so kindly to “disappointed”‘s rude comment: thank you for being an example in word and deed of a follower of Christ. As I was reading through the comments after crying through the article and learning how to improve my own problem with high expectations with my oldest son, I was cut to the core by such cruel words. I wanted to respond in some viciously rude manner about how “disappointed” shouldn’t read Segullah or be allowed to make comments. But you all responded with love and understanding. And when I read Ben’s comment, my heart melted. I was thinking last night how Segullah is like having the best visiting teachers of my life available almost every day. Thank you again for sharing your struggles. They help me in so many ways. Love you all. Even “disappointed.” (at least I’m trying to).

  47. Clarice

    August 20, 2009

    I echo Sage’s words above. I love that I can come on here and laugh, and cry all at the same time. This post was beautiful, and Ben’s response, yes, funeral reading material. You both are lucky to have each other as mother and son.

    As for partiarchal blessings, I remember being hurt that my father didn’t come to mine. He doesn’t do too well with big, special events, and apparently he was having a bad day. All in all, it was probably a good thing he didn’t come, since you want to have the spirit there as much as possible. It was his loss…more than it was mine.

  48. Blue

    August 20, 2009

    michelle, when i read this the first time, i was in ny visiting a bestie there who has really struggled with mothering her kids. as we read this together (how timely!) it had a deep impact on her and we had a really great conversation about mothering. it was 100% inspired. thank you for sharing it, and referencing it again today. i meant to let you know this when i had more online time than we had up there, and am glad to have this chance to share my gratitude to you.

    perhaps this whole experience will help you, and others, who have been less than satisfied with their PBs to see them differently. because isn’t that what our hard things do for us in life? if this hadn’t happened, you mightn’t have had a chance to revisit your feelings about your blessing. so it’s a chance for lots of healing and growth all around. that’s a beautiful thing.

    you are a gift! ♥

  49. Katie

    August 20, 2009

    Oh Michelle! You are so great! Thank you for sharing… your not so perfect moments! My boys are still quite young- but just a few short years away from what you are going through… so you are a great example to me- because obviously, Ben seems like such a great son. My oldest is nine, and helps me everyday to be better (along with my others, of course!) It gives me hope- because I screw up, big time, every day!! Motherhood is so difficult sometimes, it is so great to hear that I am not the only one!

    On ‘short’ Patriarchal Blessings (if you will) mine, is so called short, and somewhat non-specific, but I have always felt that the wonderful priesthood holders that surround me; my dad, husband, leaders, have added ten fold to it… and my husbands patriarchal blessing adds to mine, because it talks about our children… What a wonderful blessing that we have the opportunity to have a PB, think of people in the world today that are confused, it would mean the world to them , if they knew that 1, HF exists and 2- he loves them and knows them… that is the most important than any detail about our ‘future’ life!

    xoxo Katie

  50. Sue

    August 21, 2009

    Great post and comments…I especially loved Ben’s, of course! Cool kid.

    Here’s the thing. I’ve made plenty of mistakes as a mother, most as a result of my own issues. The beautiful thing is that every time I take responsibility for my mistakes and explain to my children that it was about me, not them, and that I am sorry, they have openly and lovingly forgiven me.

    If the standard was that we had to be perfect parents, all of us would be failures. I think that the standard is that we all have to be humble parents, and Michelle’s post shows that she is definitely that…


  51. Kirsty

    August 21, 2009

    Ben, I have a son named Ben too. I see him in the same way your mom sees you, as a completely remarkable, spiritual giant who will change the world. Totally unbiased of course.

    Your mom’s post made me really, really think about the messages and pressure I may be putting on my kid who I am irrevocably in love with. Does he know this or does he feel like he needs to continue to be the overachiever in all things for me to think of him as special? These are things I need to ask him, more importantly, these are things I need to show him, and your awesome mom’s incredible post may have everything to do with the future success of our relationship and the way my kid sees himself.

    Reading your post brought tears to my eyes because you clearly are the person your mom knows you to be. I can’t imagine any mom could be prouder of a kid then yours was reading that post. Heck, I’m proud of you and I don’t even know you. I really feel like I was led to this thread for a reason today, thank you both for being part of my little miracle.

    Thanks also for restoring my hope in teens, Ben. That’s no small thing.

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