Letting Go with Arms Wide Open

This past weekend was a bit of a milestone for our family, as my oldest son got married. He and his wife threw a wedding in Mexico; and while I was excited to celebrate with them, as a mother AND a party thrower, it was a little hard to stay out of it. It was hard to not worry what kind of party it would be, or wonder if their planning covered all the bases. I had to remind myself … this was their event. Even when he asked who else he should invite beside family, I said it was completely up to them.  And boy, they outdid themselves! It was so beautiful, with every detail thought out. It was such an incredible, moving weekend — a weekend none of us will ever forget!

My babies then ... and as beautiful adults now.
My babies then … and as beautiful adults now.

I am sharing this, not only because it was such an exciting weekend, but also because I realize that many parents might face the same challenges I have. Sometimes, especially in this day in age, it is so hard to just let your kids do it on their own. Whatever it is — from forgotten homework (that we rush over) to endless advice — we want to protect our kids and prevent them from suffering in any way.

But what I’m learning more and more is that the better move is to say “I have faith YOU will figure it out.” We can’t (or at least I think we shouldn’t) make things happen for them. I think, in a way, our desire to help can sometimes stunt or delay their own growth. They have to stand on their own two feet , make choices for themselves, and yes, sometimes face the consequences. From my experience, that is how they grow.

Life is a journey for all of us … and so is parenting! It seems to me to be an endless series of letting go. Now that my children are grown, I think I will be faced with endless challenges to keep my mouth shut … but always my arms and mind open!

blog64_5PS – Following the beautiful beach ceremony, my daughter-in-law, Sharon, surprised everyone at the reception with a blue velvet wedding cake. I thought it was such a fun idea! And it was delicious too, so I decided to find a recipe to try … and I thought I’d share! Watch out — your mouths will be blue!!





Blue Velvet Cake

Blue Velvet Cake


  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ounce royal blue gel paste food color
  • 2 drops violet gel paste food color
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • For Frosting
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/4 cups salted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups extrafine granulated sugar (or sifted powdered sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans
  3. Cream together Crisco, sugar and eggs
  4. Make a past of food coloring and cocoa and add to mixture
  5. Add salt and flour with buttermilk and vanilla
  6. Alternately add soda and vinegar; just blend, don't beat hard
  7. Bake 25 minutes
  8. Cool cake thoroughly before frosting.
  9. For Frosting, çombine the flour, salt, and 3/4 cup milk in a saucepan and whisk until smooth.
  10. Then whisk in the remaining milk.
  11. Cook over medium heat until thickened, whisking occasionally.
  12. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and cool completely.
  13. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  14. Add the vanilla and the cooled milk mixture.
  15. Beat until light and fluffy and no longer grainy.
  16. Spread on cooled cake.
  17. The frosting can be stored in the refrigerator.


  1. Lorraine (dramamamanot)

    Hi Marybeth,

    I must admit your blogs come along at the right time. My son just got engaged on New Years Eve. Now comes the wedding planning. I will need to practice your advice of keeping my mouth shut. Much easier said than done. My son and his future bride also want a beach wedding. I really pictured a church wedding for all my children so this is a change. One that I am ok with as long as the marriage is blessed. As a Catholic, Matrimony is a sacament. Naturally I want my children to continue to receive the sacraments that my husband and I started many years ago. I would at least like the marriage to be blessed on the beach. My son doesn’t agree because she is not Catholic. As I said, I need to practice keeping my mouth shut. I need your strength. Wishing I am as successful as you. Congratulations on the addition to your family. Exciting times ahead. Next is grandmom!

  2. Hey Mary Beth!
    What a beautiful day and occasion! Time flies when you’re having fun! I remember when this little fellow was in your tummy( rain coats, purses, and big plants hide him pretty good though! Time waits for no one! We blink and it’s nearly 30 years later! I’ve been a Mother for 15 years and I know the years just get faster and faster!!
    Your blogs are spot on for me usually every week! Thank you for sharing your heart, along with some every good advice and wisdom. For us younger Mothers, it’s good to get a perspective for someone who’s” been there and done that”!
    I have no doubt that you are gonna be one awesome, cool, fun MIL!!
    Enjoy this new season of life!! Kelley in LA (lower Alabama)

  3. Kellie P

    Wait, I have to let go? Lol. My son is 9 and daughter almost 8. It’s going by so fast. I’m going to need many more blog posts to prepare me for this “letting go” stuff. 🙂 Thanks for sharing MB.

  4. Janet Firth

    Thanks Mary Beth for sharing! Congrats to Danny and his beautiful bride! Hugs to all, Janet Helmer.

  5. I am guilty of being a rescue mom too… and I definitely learned my lesson when I saw them leaning too heavily on my on several occasions. My 20 year old wanted to go on a mission’s trip with our church to Africa last summer and needed to fundraise $4000.00. The “old” me would have jumped in to help her… but I realized that this was the best opportunity for her to prove to herself that she could achieve this on her own. It was HARD not sending out emails and putting the word out to my friends. But I encouraged her and equipped her to do it on her own. And she DID! She went to Africa and had the trip of a lifetime. She found her passion!! Though she is a full time college student and in a sorority and working part time, she has been hard at work fundraising $6,000.00 ALL ON HER OWN to go spend 6 weeks in Thailand this summer to work with Thrive Rescue/The Justice School to help rescue and rehabilitate girls from the sex trafficking crisis there. Guess what? She JUST accomplished this goal too.
    I thought it felt good to be that mom who rescues her kids and helps them whenever they needed me… but I’ll tell you what, it feels BETTER to watch my daughter’s soar on their own. Seeing them prove their abilities to themselves is so much more rewarding than doing things for them.
    God bless MaryBeth. And #PatchandKaylaforever!! 🙂

  6. Michelle Gray

    Thank you for sharing your son’s wedding details and pictures with us, looked like a beautiful day for all. I am especially touched to see your son’s pictures as my son was due to get married this past February, but unfortunately they decided to postpone it, so seeing Danny and Sharon’s pictures made me feel a little better about things. I wish them a wonderful life together.

  7. I think we all find letting go a challenge-but it is really necessary. I am a teacher of 7 year olds and if we do not let them scrape their knees every so often, children don’t build resilience. One of the key factors of a successful life. You can start gently but it needs to be done. It is unrealistic to expect a teenager or young adult to stand on their own two feet if they have not had baby steps to doing so along the way. The urge to not over correct homework, criticize certain friends and buy their way for them can be overwhelmingly tempting as a parent but we do them no real favours.
    I always knew parenting was hard but I never knew how hard it can be to keep out of controlling some aspects of their lives. But it is essential for growth and long term healthy relationships between parents and children.

    • I forgot to add-thank you for such a timely and important post Mary Beth. It is the simple truths like you wrote that we often forget.

  8. Barbara levy

    I accidentally sent half a post and hope it didn’t go through. I loved this post. Since I had horrible in laws I was determined to be different. Whenever my soon to be daughter in law called for my opinion I always answered the same way. This is your wedding and at the end of the day if everything was wonderful and just what you both wanted, I will be very happy. when they later had two little girls she would ask my advice I would ask her what her instincts were telling her to do– I would tell her she had good instincts . The two biggest compliments I have ever received. 1) Ma , when my friends get together and complain about their MIL I have nothing to say. 2). 4.5 years after they wed my son got sick and 2 weeks later he died of cancer. My DIL has always said my strength got her through. We are very close because I built the foundation. I still do not give advice. I give hugs, kisses, encouragement ,support, and lots of love. Although I wish she would remarry, because that is what my son would want for her and the girls, I only mention that once a year. I did not write this to be a downer. How important is your opinion about the wedding vs. your kids being happy. You never know what life will bring so be good to your kids and wonderful to their spouses. My son was wise enough to marry into a great family and they are all my family now. MB you will receive unimaginable ‘gifts’ for letting go.


    PS. My Michael sounded just like Danny growing up- a true challenge.

  9. My new Mantra “have faith they will figure it out”. I struggle with the Negative Nellies so this is a perfect substitute. Your kiddos are so blessed to have such an amazing example of an “Ever After” marriage. Cheers to you two for providing that. The Cake looks Amazing!!!!! Thanks for the Share.

  10. I enjoyed this as I figured this out when “letting my kids go” also. The reward has been having adult children who are capable, responsible, and better people and parents than I will ever was or will be. They inspire me to keep trying though.

  11. jennifer brock

    I absolutely LOVE this post!! Thank you so much!!! Congratulations on your son’s wedding!! It looked so beautiful!!
    After reading and then re-reading this post, it dawned on that I went through a similar situation a few weeks ago with my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. I was on both sides as a mom and also as a daughter. My daughter wanted to plan her party and I let her …to a point. It was tough at times to keep my mouth closed, but I kept reminding myself this is her party. On the other side of the coin, there is my mother who was trying to make sure I had everything together, and wasn’t forgetting anything. As a daughter, I wanted to prove to myself (and a little bit to her) that I can do this. Since we live so far away from each other, I could say over the phone, ‘yes mother…I’ve got that covered.’ (I’m sure for her, she had her doubts and it wasn’t easy to keep her thoughts to herself.) The celebration was beautiful! The best part of it for me was that my daughter had a great time, my mom complimenting me (repeatedly) on what a wonderful job I had done, and that I had been able to pull off such a memorable time for everyone.
    Letting go is so tough, but I think the rewards, for everyone, far out weigh the heartaches.
    Congratulations again to you and your family!!

  12. Cheryl Chadwick

    Mary Beth,
    Once again thank you for a wonderful, heartfelt and inspiring posting! It must be amazing to see your children all grown and leading new exciting lives. Although my children are younger, boys ages 15 and 13, I have been struggling with allowing them to become independent. As a self-proclaimed “control freak” and working in a profession that “orders” my staff’s every move, this has been most difficult. I seem to be constantly “chasing my tail” trying to make sure homework is done and done correctly, that AR books are read, teeth brushed, hair combed, clothes matching and clean(Lol!). I finally came to a realization that I needed to stop controlling everything when my oldest told me “Moma, I got this”. Although it is sad that they don’t need me as much as when they were smaller, it is exciting seeing them grow and develop into responsible individuals. Your advice is so appropriate, “letting go with arms wide open”. Thank you for that reminding me that even though I’m gradually letting go, I’ve also got my arms wide open for when they ever need me for anything!

    Have a great day and thanks for being so kind to us! #kindnessis

    Cheryl @lahdoc

  13. Really enjoyed your blog today, MaryBeth.

    Love all the pics. Wonderful memories for you.
    You & Michael have raised a beautiful family

    It looked like a perfect day for a ceremony.
    Danny & Sharon are such a beautiful couple.
    I absolutely loved Sharon’s dress. Gorgeous bride!
    Congratulations again to them!!

    Thank you for sharing a part of your family life with us fans.
    It’s very sweet & we love it!
    We always appreciate what you share with us 😊

    The blue velvet cake looked delicious. I love cake..any kind.
    I’ll definitely have to try it!

  14. Terri from Cincinnati, OH

    So beautiful! Congratulations on the wedding and “staying out of it!” haha!! One of my biggest parental faults is the “fixing” everything for my kids and trusting them that they can handle it on their own. I have 19, 17 and 10 year girls and for some reason, I find myself trying to make their worlds as perfect as possible. I wasn’t raised that way and would have never been ok with my parents constantly interfering with my decisions. It is hard to watch them fly and possibly crash. I guess that’s what makes life….life and no one is able to escape that. Always learning, always growing…..even at my age!

  15. Stacey (BraveWidowMama)

    Crisco and butter…..How can you go wrong?

    Congratulations Mary Beth! Now comes the challenge to be the best MIL in the world.

    My kids aren’t married yet. But, I plan on using my former MIL as a counter-example when my time comes. Horrible woman, but that’s another story. Having a MIL who treated me like a outsider for 16 years was not fun. But, it shaped the kind of Mom I’ve been to both of my son’s serious girlfriends. He sometimes wishes that I had not developed close relationships with both girls. They are FB friends who’ve sent me wedding invitations and baby pictures over the years. I know that one day I’ll be the MIL that I wish I’d had. Letting go is so hard, especially for a widowed Mama. But, it’s the most selfless gift I could ever give my kids. I think that letting your new DIL handle the wedding was the best gift you could have given her.

  16. What a beautiful wedding and family!! Congrats and thanks for sharing with us!

    Wow. I am literally sitting here in a puddle of tears. I am a firm believer in “every thing happens for a reason” and this blog post today is one of those things, I so so so needed to read it!

    My oldest son, my second oldest child graduates in just two months! A fact I have been trying to deny all school year. Though the reality is catching up fast as he’s wanting me to make party details and the school wants pictures and such. He leaves just a week later for the Army. Not something I ever imagined when I was up all night with him 18 years ago. He has always been a “Momma’s boy” I was more afraid he’d never leave home. Yet, he’s strategically planned to be able to go to boot camp immediately after graduation so he could get it done and not sit home all summer…it seemed so far away now it’s almost here and letting go has not been easy for me! But, as you said, they grow by making their own decisions and I have been trying very hard to allow him to do that and have always raised my children with that philosophy. Until they made one that knocked the breath out of me. So here I am trying to not let him see the mess I am, but to see the strong supportive mother he’s always had by his side. Though, I think he knows cause he keeps asking if I am gonna cry when he leaves and asks me not to cry in front of him, not sure how I will pull that off but again, I know he needs me not too!

    I like “letting go with arms wide open”. Definitely gonna be repeating this often in the next few months. Now, I think I will go make this cake to make myself feel better 🙂

    Mary Beth, this was a beautiful blog. Thank you for the prospective and inspiration.

  17. We could be really good friends! Love your thoughts and words! Looks like fun was had by all.

  18. Ashley Parker

    I LOVE THIS! I know it must have been a beautiful day! Your outlook reminds me so much of my mom’s. My mom has had to do the same thing as we are preparing for our wedding, and I’m so thankful for the patience and love she has extended my way. She has been ready to answer when asked, and has sat back and allowed us make this wedding ours! That has meant the world to my fiancé and I! As for my mother-in-law (I call her my mother-in-love), she has been just as patient as my mom. This is her first child to marry also! I know it can’t be easy for either of our moms, but as you said I know they will be there arms and mind open!:) Wish us luck as May 14th is approaching ever so quickly!!

    I just want to thank you for all the wisdom I have gained form PLANK. I look forward to every Thursday to see what wisdom I can take away from the next blog! You truly are an angel Mrs. Mary Beth, and I wish you and your growing family all the happiness there is to receive!
    Ashley Parker

  19. Patsy McDaniel

    That is where I am I life too,
    with a 30 yr old daughter. Giving our kids roots and wings is everything. They must face life head on and learn to make decisions on their own. It’s a life learning process. Not always easy, but necessary for healthy adulthood. Nice cake! Blue’s my fave color. Will have to try it, if I can find the color ingredients. Cheers 🙂 Patsy

  20. Keren Beth

    Thank you for this post Mary Beth. While I do not have completely grown children, I do now have a teenager who is trying to find his own way of doing things. As a recent single mom, I too am struggling to help without constantly intervening and doing for him. It sounds like you did an amazing job with Danny in helping and guiding without controlling or constantly intervening. And you’re right, as a parent it’s hard to allow them to fail and do for themselves when you want to protect and advise them even when they won’t listen. I love your way of putting the challenge…keeping your mouth shut and your arms and mind open. I pray that I am able to do that with my 2 sons and 1 daughter as well as you have. Thank you for the peek into your family life and heart. I’m also thinking about trying the recipe as my oldest loves the color blue and is a big fan of red velvet cake.

  21. Andrea W

    Mary Beth it looks and sounds like it was a beautiful wedding. I’m so happy for your son and his new bride. I wish them a lifetime of happiness. This blog has come at a perfect time for me as my daughter graduates from high school in May and will be starting a new chapter in her life. I know she will do great in college, it’s me I’m worried about. Lol! As always your words inspire me and always seem to give me encouragement when I seem to need them the most. Thank you. Andrea

  22. Another beautiful blog! Especially touching! You should be extremely proud of all your accomplishments with family, career and self. I know your fans are♥

  23. Susan Nolen (Suzzy1969)

    Hi Mary Beth!…oh it looks like it was a beautiful wedding!…Congrats to Danny & Sharon!….I can’t wait to try this “blue velvet” cake recipe! …thank you for another wonderful blog and thank you for sharing this little piece of yours & Danny’s special day with us fans! Congrats to your whole family for this wonderful wedding and special occasion!

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