Mary Carolyn Steffen Carlson (age 46) | with daughter Stephanie
“When Mom Was My Age” is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear every Monday. If you would like to participate, contact Jane.
The following interview is with Mary Carolyn Steffen Carlson (now age 73), interviewed by daughter Stephanie Carlson Curtis (age 46).
Where did you live when you were my age (46)?
In 1983 we lived at our current home on Crooked Stick Lane in Carmel, Indiana, where we have lived for 45 years.
What was your typical day like?
You had just graduated from high school and were heading to Purdue. I now had two children at Purdue and two still in high school. My work centered around four busy teenagers, their activities and their friends. In the fall we tailgated at Purdue football games where we were able to meet your new college friends. You and Craig and all of your buddies were always looking for some good home cooking so we had lots of food at those games.
I volunteered for several organizations but my favorite role was as president of the Carmel Football Mothers’ Club. With the help of other parents, we entertained the football players after games and fed them generously. In the winter, I was involved with Kristen’s gymnastics team attending meets and planning events. During the holidays, I was in charge of planning your father’s company Christmas Party.
What did you worry about the most?
I worried about keeping my family safe and sound. I truly wanted to see you all become well-adjusted functioning adults. I was content with my husband and family. We were blessed to have been successful and healthy.
What did you think the future held for you?
Grandkids! I have 11 now. My children are all married and live nearby. I looked forward to traveling and enjoying fun times with my family. We did a lot of boating while you were growing up and I looked forward to visits to the lake. I’m very family-oriented.
When you look back?
I still see so many of the fun activities your father and I did with you kids. Your Dad and I had the opportunity to travel out of the country and enjoyed getting together with friends. While many of the women had college degrees, none of my friends worked. We all raised our families and volunteered at school or in the community.
I really didn’t have a care in the world. Your father worked hard to support us. My responsibility was to my family and to make my husband happy. I had a great time, loved the activity and wouldn’t change a thing.
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.