Let’s talk about Claire’s prep for two new adventures: study abroad and a mission.

As I type, she is already checked into her new spot in London, with a few days in Paris and a few days in Switzerland with a friend under her belt. And I’m so excited for her!

But let’s back up because this post is just about the “taking off” part.

Claire finished up work up in Provo, packed up her whole apartment and life as a college freshman, and headed down to the desert for a few days to situate life before she headed across the ocean.

Not only was there plenty to do to get ready for her London study abroad, but she was immersed in preparing to head out on her mission. She will be leaving for Australia just four weeks after she gets home, and wants desperately to have all her ducks in a row in order to get there. Who knew there were so many extra things to do to prepare for an Australian visa when you live in the desert?

She had to get fingerprinted, I think three different background checks, an FBI clearance, scan and send in all kinds of documentation. Phew!

She sure put in the work.

I cherished the time we got to spend together, just the two of us. (It was so strange that she was our “only child” for a few days since Lu is at camp.)

We shopped to get the last-minute things she needs.

Some good talks were delved into.

Claire was our lone girl here to celebrate Father’s Day with us.

Got in a good visit with Nana and Papa.

The airport drop-off

And THEN, after all that prep work under her belt, lots of talks about safety and navigating a new country, the two of us headed to the airport.

I walked with her as far as I could. Ha!

And then I stood on the sidelines to watch her fly off.

In some ways, even after letting so many kids go, it still doesn’t get any easier to send kids off.

But in some ways it does.

I stood there as I watched her leave, and thought of all she has learned this year.

From college volleyball to navigating two different universities to gaining such good new friends to figuring out such a better sense of self.

She is ready as she can be. For now. Until the next big hurdle comes. Sometimes that “readiness” can’t actually come until you’re looking at it all square in the face.

There will be some tough times. Sure. But I think she knows where to reach to dig deep and get through them.

And that puts my mama’s heart at peace.

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  1. I’ve asked this before and not received a response. I am extremely curious, as I am sure a lot of your reader are as well.

    Will Claire be required to take out one of her sets of earrings when she reports to be a missionary? I noticed that she has double pierced ears now, as does Grace – I wonder (1) if missionaries are allowed to have them (2) if not, then why is it ok to wear them prior to starting as a missionary and immediately start wearing them when your missionary service is done?

    Are there different rules for missionaries than “normal” Mormon youths? Does the church want the missionaries to stand out as such, as in no trendy or “worldly” attire or jewelry? Is it ok to be trendy/”worldly” if not a missionary and not stand out as just a regular Mormon young person?

    Thanks in advance for your clarification.

    1. As a person who was visited by the sister missionaries and joined the church for a time (I’ll leave out why I left), I found that all the girls were rather frumpy in the clothes and shoes they wore. I don’t think it’s noticed quite so much at the moment as the kind of dresses that are fashionable are also suitable for a mission. I stayed friends with several of them after they went home and was completely surprised to see them wearing much tighter clothing, not so many layers, their photo shoots for their engagements and their wedding dresses were also much more fashionable than anything I’d seen them wear on their mission. Figure hugging dresses rather than very loose ones. I understand that they need to dress to a certain standard when officially representing the church but I found it rather misleading; once home they were often wearing work out or hiking gear that would never cover the garments they are supposed to wear. While I understand it’s not a requirement to wear your garments to the gym or while swimming, it seemed like they did a lot of things that allowed them to get away with not wearing their garments. I don’t mean this to be judgemental at all because wearing your garments is a covenant between you and God and no one else’s business but it gave the illusion that they were much more devout while on their mission than they were at home. It made me feel disillusioned by the way they portrayed their faith and commitment while on a mission and the clothes they wore when they weren’t. Two earrings in an ear or just one, I don’t care, but what are the guidelines written down for if one can pick and choose which ones they adhere to. The emphasis on what one wears and looks like seems more important than what’s in their heart. It’s hard to explain in a comment but I guess I felt like I’d been given one version of the church and saw a different one when they went home, I felt lied to. If they’d come to my door wearing jeans or tighter skirts it wouldn’t have made me less receptive to their message. At home they seemed like completely different people.

      1. I think even on a mission there is a daily requirement to exercise. Since they are expected to look so perfect even as just members I am not surprised they are in exercise, swimming is exercise, attire so much. As to the dresses just look at the LDS bridal sites. Mermaid cut is the current thing. They keep changing the garments and they are not making the military ones anymore. Not sure why the need to dig at her about how many piercings her daughter is supposed to wear on a mission. Men shave for mission and BYU I maybe BYU and no other time. They can wear flip flops at BYU Hawaii but not Idaho. In the business world it used to be one simple set of earrings but with understanding of cultures expanding what is considered neat and the Facebook guy/Jobs dressing so casual is there a business dress expectation anywhere anymore? You already said what it was. During the mission they are representatives and a different dress code than at home just members. It’s like high school had a dress code but at home and at the store you don’t have to measure the size of the straps holding up your shirt. People usually only post what they are doing and not sitting around doing nothing. You really should not join a church cause the people are frumpy or slutty looking. Just clothing.

      2. This is it exactly. I’ve not seen too many female missionaries, except on this blog. Or people preparing to go through the temple. I see the daughters wearing short shorts, showing shoulders, mini skirts, etc in “real life” but then when the blog starts talking about them going through the temple or going on a mission, I see frumpy long prairie skirts, bobby socks, horrible black clunky shoes…. it is a transformation almost in a comical way.

        Especially for the eldest daughter who, on her IG, wears tiny bikinis, short shorts, tank tops… and she has been through the temple, clunky shoes and all! Don’t they have to wear garments after going through the temple? I know garments are smaller now, but I don’t think they are being worn.

        So yeah, on the mission and real life = two entirely different sets of what is appropriate.

    2. Why would a lot of readers be “extremely curious” about this? What does it have to do with you or the other readers?

      Men shave on missions & not in real life if they dont want to. But even so, it’s absolutely none of your business & just confused why you would even care to know this?? It’s a hole in an ear?? So weird.

      1. Well, alex, since you asked…not that I owe you an explanation for my question….

        Shawni and her family are “devout” Mormons.

        Up until recently when God changed his mind about modest dress and grooming, there was a rule in place saying that women who have more than one piercing in their ears bring shame and dishonor to themselves and their church.

        Naturally I (and other readers) were surprised to see Grace, Claire, even Abby – with double ear piercings. There must be something a little questionable there because in a post a while back Shawni said “oh that’s ok, they are just clip ons…..” when asked about Claire’s double earrings…

        And don’t tell me no one has noticed how when young women get their mission callings they all of a sudden look much more frumpy in their dress and shoes. Seriously, it is noticeable. Then when they get back home they look “normal” again.

        So since the Mormonism is kind of all over this blog, naturally there will be questions about their religion and how they interpret the “guidelines”.

        Any other questions for me, alex?

    3. 1. Yes, there are different rules for missionaries than for non-missionaries. Male missionaries can’t have beards, for example, while regular church members can grow whatever facial hair they want.

      Here are the current guidelines for missionaries from the Church website: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/callings/missionary/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng

      Specific to women: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/callings/missionary/guidelines-for-sisters?lang=eng

      “Keep accessories and jewelry, including watches, simple, professional, and conservative so they do not distract from your message or draw attention, including only one pair of earrings (if desired). Leave expensive jewelry at home.”

      2. Short answer is that mission rules dictate only one pair of earrings, and when you’re on your mission you have to be accountable to your mission president, who can send you home if you disregard mission rules. In your normal life, you don’t have anyone you have to answer to, and things like a second pair of earrings once again become a personal choice.

      The obvious next question is why are earrings a hard and fast rule for missionaries but left up to personal choice for civilians? On the webpage above for sister missionaries I counted seven “professional”s and four “conservative”s (…plus one “subtle” for good measure). The Church is obviously going for a certain vibe in missionary dress, and a second pair of earrings don’t fit into it.

      When I was an LDS teen, we were given manuals with stuff like this in it: “Latter-day prophets strongly discourage the piercing of the body except for medical purposes. If girls or women desire to have their ears pierced, they are encouraged to wear only one pair of modest earrings. Those who choose to disregard this counsel show a lack of respect for themselves and for God. They will someday regret their decision.” So while the Church leadership’s attitude towards a second piercing was extremely clear, even in the strictest days the second piercings still weren’t completely forbidden, just “strongly discouraged.”

      I’m guessing the distinction between “forbidden” and “strongly discouraged” is a difficult one to appreciate for those not in the Church – why even say something is “strongly discouraged” if there aren’t consequences for doing that thing?

      While there aren’t official organizational consequences for doing a “strongly discouraged” action, there may be personal spiritual consequences. I believe that’s why Church leaders strongly discourage those actions – they believe avoiding them will improve your life, personal spirituality, and relationship with God. But they aren’t going to force you.

      A different example: committing adultery is forbidden by the Church and will result in Church discipline and potential excommunication. Gossiping, on the other hand, is just “strongly discouraged.” Should you gossip? No. Is it damaging for your soul to gossip? Quite possibly. If you are a practicing Mormon, should you repent when you gossip and ask for God’s help to stop gossiping? Probably. Are you going to have to go to a Church discipline council and face potential excommunication because you gossip? No. Can you still go on a mission even if you have trouble with being a gossip? Yes.

      In the case of earrings, Church leaders have strongly discouraged us from making permanent changes to our bodies, including tattoos and piercings. A second pair of earrings isn’t going to keep you out of the temple, though, or stop you from receiving a mission call, as we’ve seen multiple times on this blog.

      Should Shawni have forced her daughters to wear cap sleeves, long shorts, and only one pair of earrings growing up? Some LDS parents definitely do. For parents who only have so much interest/energy to pour into setting and enforcing ticky-tacky rules, focusing on the forbidden and leaving the “strongly discouraged” up to the child’s choice is one way to do it.

      (I am trying to post my comment again since the formatting was messed up on the first one. I apologize if this comes out as a wall of text too!)

      1. Thank you, Liz. This is the most clarity I have had on this subject in over a decade reading this blog. Not vague at all, and very informative. Again, NOT like this blog at all.

        I think your sentence “…for parents who only have so much interest/energy to pour into setting and enforcing ticky-tacky rules, focusing on the forbidden and leaving the “strongly discouraged” up to the child’s choice is one way to do it…” speaks volumes, and describes the lack of interest/energy in this family in raising children who are eager and proud to follow the guidelines – not see how close they can come to being worldly and get away with it.

          1. Why are you? All you do is criticize them for traveling so much and accuse them of cheating on their Visas. Pot-kettle, honey.

  2. Is it just me, or does Claire look a little older and much more mature?? She’s a brave one, for sure.

  3. Double earrings have been removed from the “ rules”. The church removed all clothing “ rules” and wants people to focus more on their relationships with Christ. There is so much more to modesty that what someone wears. So we can go forward focusing on that.
    As for missionaries, they do have a guideline to wear. Sometimes for comfort and safety, and they might be in areas where they are biking, walking or public transportation. So more fitted clothing would be harder etc. once they are home they can choose what is right for them 💕.

    I’m so excited for Claire for both adventures. She seems amazing!

    1. Yes, they removed that rule quietly and didn’t make any mention of it. So that gaslights the members into thinking they were crazy to believe it was ever a “rule” to begin with.

      Any word from the current apostle who shamed a woman his son was dating for having a second set of earrings? Nope!

      Suggesting we “just go forward focusing” on the new rules sure enables the church to get away with a lot of moving the target of what God actually wants. Feels like some real cognitive dissonance to me!

      1. That’s not actually true. elder Utchdorff gave a talk in General Conference announcing the new for the strength of youth book. This has changed through the years to what the youth need for their time. At this time, they don’t need a big list of dos and don’t, they need to have a relationship with Christ and make the choices. What Elle wears or doesn’t wear is none of anyone’s business!
        And why are we fixated on clothing and earrings. Stop everyone sexulalizing women!

        1. No one is being “sexualized”, Heidi. Some of us just wonder about what your rules are, since (1) they change constantly and (2) not many of you seem to think they are important enough to follow.

          1. I disagree! Anyone who is so focused on a women’s body ( or man’s) is sexualizing it! It’s gross actually for people to be looking and commenting on bodies and what people choose to out on them. Stop 🛑

    2. I didn’t realise that the clothes “rules” has changed.

      I wonder why this is why some members, especially youth, don’t wear church standard clothes anymore.

      In the pictures of proms etc that I’ve seen lately that have included LDS not one of them had a church standard dress on. I was quite shocked.

      I’m not sure if it’s different in the US, but in the UK it can often be very hard to find gospel standard clothes. I hate anything with a v neck, as it just shows too much.

      I may be criticised for this, but I think little girls should be taught about gospel standard clothes right from an early age.

      My friend’s 2 daughters always wore a t.shirt under their sundresses & I really admired her for that.

      These days as members of the church we often do have to stand alone & dare to be different. I know that Heavenly Father will bless us for it.

      By the way, I wish the subscription thing was still working, so that I can see other people’s comments.

      1. Yes I wonder sometimes if Shawni and other LDS moms are kind of looking for a loophole on some of the dress standards. Just because the church took out some of the specific guidelines doesn’t mean the principle isn’t still valid.

        I think they don’t want to call out their children for wearing questionable attire since it might cause them to leave the church. I actually think that if a young woman wants to dress inappropriately in the first place that she has pretty much already left – even if she is still physically going through the motions/rituals (temple, mission, etc).

        Any comments on this blog of any questionable attire has been met by Shawni (and others) with “there are more important things than how a girl is dressed or how many earrings they wear….” Well maybe, but it does show where their heart is.

        1. Honestly this kind of hyper-focus on rituals and standards is one of the things Jesus consistently called out and challenged. Let’s follow Christ by focusing on our own spiritual paths and helping those around us (the two great commandments) and do less nitpicking and shaming of what women and girls wear.

        2. Clearly you are the exJW who takes a pamphlet as seriously as scripture. They are not. One youth pamphlet said not to wear curlers in public at a time housewives going to the store in them was the rage.

          If the dress code asks for one earring she will wear one earring. Then when not on a mission anymore will put back in her ear. If it closes she will get the hole opened again. No one every gets mad at the boy/men dress code. Hardly ever does anyone get all upset Max or Dave doesn’t shave. That too is just a rule in certain settings.

  4. I think you are bragging a little. Why does she need to study abroad again when she already did study abroad in China? Why does she need to go to yet another location to take classes for college where she already has been to 2. College is 4 years give or take. Is it a sin to not have anything structured and costly to do for 8 weeks? Then she is going to leave for yet another country in a few months. How can there be attachments to places or people when no one is anywhere more than a year?

    1. Or maybe she’s young, and capable, and excited to explore the world and see what’s out there. Attachments are about depth of experience as well as length of time. You can form deep attachments in less than a year, especially in intense situations like living in a foreign country or on a mission. If it was possible, and the opportunity was there, wouldn’t you want a bright and excited kid of yours to take every chance given to her? She has a solid family at home in one place that she can come back – her roots are there.

    2. This perspective feels so limiting. Why *not* take every opportunity that blooms in this one wild, precious, all~too~brief life? I think it’s brave and beautiful to travel, and to change course, and to drink every drop.

          1. Cause I DO like this blog, you do NOT like this blog at all. EXJW. Clearly a pamphlet is never changing as scripture to JW.

  5. I really hope her study abroad goes well! Does the church help with getting visas sorted, or is that all down to the individual?

  6. I love this part… She is ready as she can be. For now. Until the next big hurdle comes. Sometimes that “readiness” can’t actually come until you’re looking at it all square in the face. ❤️❤️❤️

  7. I hope it all goes well as she studies in London & prepares for her mission.

    Is she staying in a flat in London or staying in one of the dorms at the college/uni?

  8. Please read Mark Chapter 7 which is titled “that which defiles them.” The chapter is about cleanliness and food, but I think earrings apply here too. Simply sticking to THE Bible and God’s original word would save everyone so much chaos.
    God is interested in our hearts. Not all of these rules that humans make up. The Bible makes that SO clear.

    1. I agree. But they belong to a church that has these rules so they have to stick to them, right? Apparently, the Mormon leaders want their youth to stand out as different from their “worldly” counterparts, which means dressing different and not participating in their fads – like double piercings.

      If you lined the Pothier kids up with a bunch of non-Mormon youths, unless it was temple time, or missionary time, you could NOT tell who is Mormon and who is not. THAT – is the point of the “rules”.

      1. You really have not seen how many teens and twenties dress today if you think that. And the garments don’t happen until mission or sealing in the temple.

        1. Yes but the modesty happens or should happen from birth. I’m sure the real Mormons are laughing at you thinking you know their religion better than they do.

          1. A girl in Islam doesn’t cover her hair until 9 or later if ever. An orthodox Jewish woman not until marriage. An orthodox Christian woman only in Church. Jewish boys doesn’t start wear a head covering until 3. It is ordinary for rules on dress to happen at particular ages and circumstances and not their whole life long. Clearly EXJW. A pamphlet is not scripture.

        2. That’s not always so.

          I’m single, have never married & went through the temple at age 30, despite not going on a mission or getting sealed in the temple. (In the UK we get married in a chapel first & then sealed afterwards.)

  9. Can everyone stop judging, it is not your place to do so. I love this family so much. They are so beautiful. Stop belittling them, they don’t deserve it!

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