“My Gutsy Story” by Anne Schroeder

A Thank You to the Universe for our  Zihuatanejo Connection.


The flight was on time as it descended over the basin rim into the desert. Phoenix in mid-April was green golf courses and swimming pools surrounded by alfalfa fields and sprinklers. I pulled my eyes from the magazine I was pretending to read. My hands were trembling from the apprehension of meeting my oldest daughter, Sam, to board a plane to Zihuatanejo. I knew she had not agreed to this trip without persuasion.

The trip itself was the result of many hands. God had a plan.

In the taxiing plane I heard my friend’s stern voice two months earlier brooking no dissent:  “Just hear me out before you say anything. I’ve booked you into a writer’s retreat in Zihuatenajo for late April. You need to go. You’re not writing and you need to be. Go and let it change your life.”

That phone call had frozen me with apprehension. Mexico—alone? From the way my stomach dropped at the idea I knew I was not brave enough to go alone. My heart, my instinct called for my daughter.

She had objections: a single week of vacation built up, not enough money, but beyond her objections I recognized her apprehension about spending a week together. What if we hated each other?

She had left home at seventeen for college and never returned. What if after all the years of living apart—of chasing separate dreams and missed connections—this was our only chance and we blew it? But if we didn’t try we would never know.

But maybe knowing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be!

She stalled. I fussed to her father about her indecision when secretly I was doing the same thing. It was her father who negotiated the truce, the man who didn’t really want me to go because it was southern Mexico—he hated Mexico—and he would have no power to save me if something went wrong. This husband of mine called his daughter without me knowing and told her I wouldn’t go without her.

Fast forward to Zihua:

Fate had decreed it was time.

Miles from home, the novelty of adventure freed us. Tears turned to laughter as we struggled to find common ground, mother and daughter, offspring of my teen years when I had little to offer her except my love.

Laying on our beds that first night we began to talk, first of inconsequentials, then of the disappointments we had each suffered at the other’s hand.  When exhaustion claimed us my firefighter daughter demanded that we make an evacuation plan. She placed a flashlight and our shoes by the door while I scoffed, not yet ready to relinquish the parent role to this adult daughter who had grown tenacious in the missing years.

In the middle of the night when the first temblor rocked the hotel I accepted the small earthquake as a sign that flexibility and respect would be a good thing. By joint agreement she became the leader of the expedition.

Seven days later we were friends in a way we had never before managed, our hearts healed of the nagging fear that we had somehow missed our connection. Here’s what I wrote to celebrate our week.

Thank you, Zihua’

The week was productive and inspirational. My daughter and I left our mark on the little town. I asked questions of every bartender and waiter, every vendor and taxi driver who would tolerate our Spanish. We rode a bus with broken windows to Petatlán and were taken in hand by a couple of eager seventeen-year-olds. We caught the stench of freshly-butchered pigs, ate cow head enchiladas, and brushed off flies and proposals of marriage with equal adroitness.

We adored Lenore and Veronica and Elsa and her husband. We dined with an opera singer from Mexico City and advised her in her marital distress over a bottle of wine at midnight. We rose at dawn and ate cerviche at the fish market, and enticed Jose the cantina owner into telling us his story of lost virginity at the hands of a Greek goddess who was nineteen to his seventeen.

Sweet days. We made friends with the geckos on our wall and nodding acquaintance with the iguana in our tree. We toted home fresh cocos and pinas and laced the shells with rum. We tossed Else’s bougainvillea into the sea at midnight and made a wish to return. We bought Latina sandals that made our legs look long and hootchie- mama dresses that made us feel great.

We danced to a Bolivian CD in the dark and watched the houses on the hill swell with the afternoon light. We bought morning coffee for the Indian woman who carries flan on her head, and turned down an offer of product from the local drug dealer. We taxied to Ixtapa and ferried to Las Gatas and attended Easter Mass at the church of the Virgin of Guadalupe. (And knelt in reverence at the cathedral at Petatlan) and saved our sunburn for the last day.

Oh yes, I finished twenty-five pages of most excellent prose for a total of seventy-five pages on my novel. If we missed anything we’ll be glad to retrace our steps. We have found paradise.

When we returned My husband wanted to know why I looked so relaxed. I told him it was the humidity.

In a lifetime a mother should be so lucky to share such a trip with a daughter. We were both profoundly touched by our experiences. A Norwegian reporter from New York told me she was reading Willa Cather and my book, Branches on the Conejo at the same time and found herself lost in the similarities between us. I read Cather’s My Antonia in Zihua and I found a part of my whole. Thank you, Universe, for your part in my journey.


Anne Schroeder writes about this trip and other experiences of the Social and Sexual Revolution in her baby boomer memoir, Ordinary Aphrodite, available through Amazon and e-books. Her social history of Southern California, Branches on the Conejo: Leaving the Soil after Five Generations is available at Amazon. Her books are also available through her blog: http://anneschroederauthor.blogspot.com

She describes her husband as a stallion running in circles around her, trying to keep her in the corral while she pushes to expand the circle. After 44 years it seems to work for them.

Anne has nearly a hundred short stories and essays published in print and e-magazines. She has won multiple awards, including a LAURA award for Western short story, the NightWriters Gold Quill, Writer’s Digest, AAPW, and WIN-WIN Persie.   Connect with Anne on her Facebook link.


 Anne, Thank you for sharing your honest story about reconnecting with your daughter who left home at seventeen. This question, “What if we hated each other?” and “What if after all the years of living apart—of chasing separate dreams and missed connections—this was our only chance and we blew it? But if we didn’t try we would never know.”That one week together worked its magic and I know there are many mothers and daughters out there who will thank you for sharing and I know your story will make a difference in someone’s life.


Please leave a comment for Anne and I know she’ll be over to respond. Also share her story with others you think might enjoy reading it.


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Comments (28)

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  1. Sonia Marsh says:

    Thanks Anne for sharing such an honest story about your fears and how in the end, Mexico reconnected you and your daughter. In a way, this reminds me of our entire family moving to Belize for one year, to reconnect our family. Sometimes it takes “getting away” to accomplish our goals.

  2. Lady Fi says:

    What a profoundly hopeful story!
    Lady Fi recently posted..Of loss, love and comfortMy Profile

    • Thanks, Sonia and Lady Fi. Truth is truth, even when it doesn’t stand us in a very favorable light. But when we conquer our demons, we grow. I’ve had responses from several mothers who feel the same way as I did and they took a risk and their relationships have grown.
      Anne Schroeder recently posted.."Chocolate Necessities"My Profile

  3. Nancy says:

    I inspire reading your story.. Your a great women..I really admire you..Keep on sharing..
    Nancy recently posted..vision without glasses bookMy Profile

  4. raenze says:

    The story was really awesome!I want to share this to my friends too…They will like it for sure…
    raenze recently posted..Guest houses PaigntonMy Profile

  5. written in the sensual style of a true American goddess…its strength and candid doubts, its empowerment and weak moments make a strong statement of unwavering love and emotional survival..now an online story which could grace the best of magazines..
    nadine sellers recently posted..Snow Day Now.My Profile

  6. Nezzy says:

    What an honest and upliftin’ story you told here. Mama always said, “whatever doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger!”

    This was a great read. Thanks for bringin’ Anne and her gutsy story to us.

    God bless and have a beautiful day!!!
    Nezzy recently posted..FALLINGMy Profile

  7. Nancy says:

    This is definitely helpful and I am sure you can post more about this…
    Nancy recently posted..vision without glasses bookMy Profile

  8. karla says:

    Great post! i love reading your story and you really inspire me. I will definitely shared this to all of my friends. Thanks for sharing.
    karla recently posted..Happy New Year To All Of You And Hope You Like The Aquarium Fish Photos Here …My Profile

  9. Doreen Cox says:

    Hi Anne! When I need an emotional lift, the stories you shared in, ORDINARY APHRODITE,always enrich my spirit. It was so great to read this mother/daughter story again in Sonia’s My Gutsy Story blog. Hope all is well with you :+))
    Doreen Cox recently posted..Mother was such a good example….My Profile

  10. Muriel says:

    What a beautiful story Anne! The fact that you managed to reconnect with your daughter is a credit to you both . Thanks for sharing.
    Muriel recently posted..Being A MisfitMy Profile

  11. Thanks everyone who left a comment for me. I write fiction, but I found my voice in inspirational memoir. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been contacted by “strangers” who tell me how my little stories have affected them. I think we all have it in us to bring others along on our journeys. I’m so touched by your appreciation. You honor me. I e-published Ordinary Aphrodite as a memoir if anyone wants to read more. And thank you Sonia for this great site.
    Anne Schroeder recently posted.."Chocolate Necessities"My Profile

  12. Nikki says:

    What a wonderful story.
    It reminds me of a time when I went with my mother back to her family roots in England and visited Paris on the way. Connecting with family is so special.
    I love the way you lay out each adventure you had together. So many little interesting activities, that sound like so much fun. I visited your blog. As soon and as I saw the word “inspire” I just had to join it. I have a happy life and I love to share with others who do too.
    May we both live to 100 haha

  13. barbara says:

    So beautifully written Anne. This line in your comment struck me… ‘I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been contacted by “strangers” who tell me how my little stories have affected them.’

    When I began my blog 2 years ago it was exactly that experience that kept it going. We fail to see, sometimes, how sharing our stories and experiences can help others in many ways. This is why I always say, ‘Everyone has a story and should at least blog about it.’ Your story is heart warming and uplifting.

  14. Tony Piazza says:

    Wonderful story, Anne. Really made my day and brought a smile to my face.

  15. Thanks again everyone who read this or who left a comment. I try to spread my little blend of good cheer one person at a time and it usually works! Thanks for paying it forward.
    Anne Schroeder recently posted..When Your Body Says “No:” The Stress/Disease ConnectionMy Profile

  16. carol says:

    Thanks, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Very beautifully written. You make me realize how it’s all about personal choices : connecting, reconnecting, disconnecting. I think Internet can work wonders! It’s really gutsy to be told :”What if this was our only chance and we blew it?” As someone once said :” the best worker in nature is time “! You’ve showed us how to be in the right direction.

  17. I always enjoy your writing, Anne. I’ve had several similar trips with my daughter; the most recent was January’s trip to the Mayan Peninsula. The kind of sharing and interactions you describe enrich our lives enormously.
    You’ve got my vote!
    Arletta Dawdy recently posted..1900 A NEW CENTURYMy Profile

  18. Alice Trego says:

    What a “gutsy” story, Anne! I was glad to read that you and your daughter connected after such a long time. Not all mothers and daughters have that opportunity. I applaud you for reaching out to your daughter so she could share your new adventure with you.

  19. Pat Yeager says:

    Another thing we have in common Anne. I’ve discovered over the years it doesn’t matter how much we love our kids or what we do to sacrifice for them, especially girls, they’re going to break our hearts at one time or another in a lifetime. But for some of us who are fortunate enough to find the courage and seek the truth, a relationship can be renewed if we allow our hearts to surrender to the possibility we may have been at fault as well. Sometimes the love we feel for our kids is just too much for them. Fortunately, when they have their own they understand a mother’s love. That is when my daughter admitted to me after years of separation, She has always known I loved her and only wanted the best for her. We now have a true friendship and actually laugh with one another over things that once caused her to be angry about. I’m glad you were able to reunite. Beautiful story.

  20. Brien27 says:

    Thanks for sharing your life with us by doing this article…i love reading your gutsy story..I will share this story with my family and friend so that they will have a smile in their face..
    Brien27 recently posted..2012 pole shift, the explanation of the 3 – 21/12/12My Profile

  21. Bianca says:

    It was inspirational..Thanks for sharing your Gutsy story to us..
    Bianca recently posted..second hand cars stroudMy Profile

  22. Kyla says:

    I am grateful to read the story of yours. Thanks, it was impressive.
    Kyla recently posted..How To Clean Grout Around ToiletMy Profile

  23. Lois says:

    Gusty story is one of my favorite creation base on the reality of life, its nice to be inspired in every good deeds of our brother and sister…
    Lois recently posted..Maigrir vite et bien!My Profile

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  25. alanna says:

    It’s been over two years since I have seen or heard my daughter speak. She will be nineteen in August. I try to remember what her hands feel like and how soft her hair is. Every day that goes by without her is my loss. I dont know how to live without her except in sadness. It is her decision not to have contact with me. She has chosen not to call or write or visit. I dont know what I have done or how i or can fix it. She studies law and writes, I am so proud of her and all her accomplishments, It is unbearable living without her.