From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

In Mom We Trust

My mom embarrassed me. In fifth grade, she was the mom interrupting sex education with my birthday cupcakes. In seventh grade, she picked up the phone and told me it was bedtime at 9:30 on a Friday night when I was on the phone with Eric, the cute boy in art class. And after Sam stood me up on the night of winter formal, my mom stormed into his work and made a scene, demanding he pay for my unused dress and shoes. Although (I must admit) it would have been classic to see the look on his face had I been there, I was furious with her for making matters even more humiliating. Mom was always there to serve and protect. She was like a superhero who just seemed to make everything worse.

During the middle years when every month brought changes in bra size, boyfriends and hair color, my mom was as impossible to hide from as puberty. She was like a supernatural force, a divine spirit with psychic abilities. If I made any sort of mistake, she knew about it before I walked through the front door. She had a sixth sense, and it wasn’t fair. My friends could experiment and lie and be out past curfew, and their parents would never in a thousand years catch on. As for me, if I were to even sample a beer or inhale one drag of a cigarette, my mom knew. As a result, by high school I had learned that it was best for me not to lie—after all, I knew better. I had a mom who knew everything, anyway.

And then there was a night when I couldn’t be honest. All my friends were making a journey down to Mexico for the evening. The boy I especially liked invited me to come along. He was older and had a car. I really, really wanted to go. I had resisted in the past, but this time I found myself agreeing to the invitation. (My parents thought I was spending the night with my best friend.) We went, and it was fun and dangerous and stupid, and GREAT! Luckily, we made it home safely that night, and I spent the night at a friend’s house. His parents weren’t home, but if they had been, I have a feeling they wouldn’t have cared that ten high-schoolers were gathered in their living room after a night in Tijuana. They were the type of parents who just didn’t seem to care all that much about anything, which at the time I thought was pretty cool.

The morning after my little rebellious experience, my dad opened the front door to greet me.

“Hi Bec,” he cheered. My mother put down her dishtowel and kissed me on the cheek. I waited for her to notice something different about me, something that might lead her to believe that I had been up to no good.

“I’m gonna take a shower now,” I began.

She didn’t say anything. She just hugged me tightly and asked me not to forget to clean my room. I spent twenty minutes in the shower wondering what I should do. My mom would surely figure it all out sooner or later. Should I tell her?

I decided to stay rigid. I was a good little actress. I could cover for myself if I needed to. A lie (just this once) couldn’t hurt anyone. When I came down for breakfast, I waited for the inquisition, but to my surprise, it never came. Mom’s crystal ball must have been cloudy that day, and for once, she didn’t suspect a thing. I was in luck. I was relieved. I was shocked. I was guilty.

My conscience caught up with me after a few days. I couldn’t stand it anymore and I told Mom everything, every detail. She cried, of course, scared for my life, afraid of what could have happened to me, and through her gentle tears she grounded me—for an entire month! Why, might you ask, did I tell her? Trust me, I asked myself that same question every day of that miserable month. I could have gotten away with it. I know that for a fact—or do I?

Sooner or later she would have probably found out about everything. And if that had happened, she would have not only grounded me, but would have lost all of her trust in me, as well. You see, after the Mexico incident, after I had confessed and then served my sentence, I eventually earned back my parents’ trust. In return, I was given a later curfew, not to mention more privileges.

I didn’t tell my parents everything after that. Instead, we had a system. I told Mom and Dad where I was going, when I would be back and the important things that were happening in my life. It turned out that superpsychic mom was cooler than I had originally thought. I liked that she cared about me and my life, and I really liked being able to share with her.

Over the years, Mom’s embarrassment factor has dimmed like an old night-light, but she remains the raging superhero she always was. Even though I’m living one hundred miles away, she brings me soup if I’m sick, helps with my work when I’m swamped and makes sure that boyfriends are treating me right. She still has her crystal ball on hand and will often call me on a bad day to cheer me up even before I tell her that I was just fired, dumped or just plain lonely. She has grown to be my best friend, and even though I don’t live at home anymore, I still confide in her and tell her everything. Well—almost.

Rebecca Woolf

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