Why I Choose To Be An Honest Mother

Warning:  This is a post from my heart.  It is real, and has nothing to do with crafts, decor, or DIY.   I felt the need to share what has been on my mind lately and why…

I have a story.  We all do.  We have all had things happen in our lives that make us think or act a certain way.  Like you, I have had many experiences that have shaped the person, wife, and mother that I am now.  I have thought about a particular time in my life a lot lately, so I thought I would share it with you.

It was a beautiful day in May, 1992.  I was 16 years old, and thought I had it all figured out.  A social butterfly, not often thinking of what was coming next, or what the consequence of my actions or others actions for that matter could bring.  Everyone at school was talking about Senior Skip Day.  There was going to be a huge party for the seniors, and everyone was going.  No parents, lots of sunshine, loud music, and free flowing beer, I had to be there.  See, where I grew up, partying in highschool was the norm.  I’m not saying that as a parent I am okay with it, I’m just saying that’s how it was then.  

Lots of kids skipped school that day, but I opted to go after with some other friends that weren’t skipping. I remember watching the clock all day long.  Come on…let’s just get this day over with!  Finally, the final bell rang, I ran with some other friends to my friends car, and we were on our way.  It was sooo crazy.  There were so many people there, even kids from other schools.  The music was loud, guys were passing footballs, girls were sitting on the grass stretched out letting the sun soak in, and there was a ton of laughter.  I payed the three dollars for a plastic cup and waited while one of the seniors filled it with keg beer.  The U-Haul filled with kegs of beer didn’t even seem off to me.  I was just a girl trying to fit in with everyone else.  It was kind of the norm.  

I took my beer and plopped down on the side of the hill with some friends, and joined the conversation.  Cypress Hill was playing in the distance and the party was in full swing.  Then everything stopped in an instant.  The world went quiet, except for the sound of a gun being shot.  I remember the sound like it  happened five minutes ago, I remember screaming, and diving, and looking up to see where I should run.  It was complete chaos.  Everybody was running and screaming, nobody knew what to do.  

Then I saw something that I will never be able to erase from my mind.  Two senior guys were holding up one of the guys that had been shot.  I didn’t know him well, but I knew his name. I remember falling to the ground, feeling like I was going to throw up.  I wanted to run, but didn’t know where my friends were, and that’s when I saw Lydell.  We had been friends since the second grade.  Not best friends, but friends still.  He wasn’t moving.  He too was being hoisted up, but hanging lifeless.  What I saw next shook me to my core.  The shooter, and I knew him.  I had gone to school with him before I transferred to GW.  He had a gun.  He saw me, but he didn’t really see me.  He looked wild.  He started running in the other direction.  Some sort of instinct finally kicked in and I ran to my friend’s car.  She hit the gas hard, gravel flew, and we got out of there with our lives in tact.  I remember getting home, running to the kitchen to grab a knife, then running upstairs to my closet.  Nobody was home.  What if the shooters had seen me?  What if they thought I saw something and were coming for me?  Looking back, it seems silly.  The shooters were students from another school.  They were probably as scared as I was.  They too were probably in hiding.  But, my teenage mind was running wild.  So I sat in the corner of my dark closet, gripping that knife as hard as I could until my mom found me.  I didn’t cry until she found me, and then I cried for days.  I was terrified.  I didn’t want to leave our house, but my mom finally convinced me to see a counselor.  It really helped me realize that I would be okay, and that most of the other kids there were feeling the same way.  Going to school was a relief.  We all felt scared, sad, and helpless.  Of course, life returned to normal within weeks, and we all went away to college and continued on with our lives, but I am willing to bet that none of us have ever forgotten.

Now I am the proud parent of a 14 year old son.  The memory of that day terrifies me for him.  It makes me realize that I won’t always be around, and will not be able to control everything that he experiences, good or bad.  It has made me an honest mother.  I have told him about Senior Skip Day.  I have been honest about drinking in high school.  I don’t pretend to have been the perfect child.  I don’t expect him to be perfect either.  What I do want my teenage son to know is that no matter what situation he finds himself in, he can always count on his parents.  If he is in a dangerous situation, he can call us, and no matter what, we will come to get him.  I want him to know that while partying seems fun, it is extremely dangerous.  Teenagers are impulsive, they don’t always think of consequences.  Some of them may carry a gun.  They don’t realize how easy it is to take a life.  They think they are invincible.  Some parents don’t feel the same way, but they haven’t lived the same life as me.  So, this is how I choose to parent my children.

So far it’s working.  A few weeks ago, he called us to say that some kids were drinking at the festival he and his friends were at.  I left immediately to pick him up.  His father and I praised him for making the decision to leave a bad situation.  So, keeping it real really does work for me.  I’m not saying he will always make the correct decisions, but I hope at the very least, he knows he can count on me.

I didn’t share the names of my friends.  This story doesn’t only belong to me.  I am just grateful for such wonderful friends and family to share in my life experiences.  I in no way shape or form condone under age drinking.  


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  1. says

    I commend you for being an honest parent. I too like to think that, while I don’t have such an amazingly horrible story to tell, I can be honest with my three boys and that it will encourage them to make the right decisions in life. The thought of somethig like this happening to one of my three is completely gut wrenching.

  2. says

    One of THE best posts from you. Seriously!! Kudo’s for sharing a real story that is still sharp for you. Your bravery and honesty is refreshing. Love you girl!

  3. says

    You are so right, we all do have a story, and if we can’t apply that to every day life, and raising our kids, what good are our experiences? Kids are so smart, in so many ways and I think the best thing is to be honest with them. I wish we could shield them from everything but that is impossible. The next best thing we can do is give them tools to cope with a variety of situations. Hugs Jess! Thanks for sharing this deeply personal story.

  4. says

    I can’t imagine how scary that must have been for you. Thanks for sharing. Glad you weren’t hurt! And it sounds like you are doing a great job as a mom.

    -Erin @ DIY On the Cheap

  5. says

    That brought tears to my eyes. You know I have five kids and I hate that I can’t always protect them but,like you, I believe that honesty always helps and I really hope that it goes both directions in our house. We just recently had that same talk – we’ll pick them up no matter what, no matter where, no matter when.

    What a lesson you had to learn that day … I’m sure it’s changed how you view life.

  6. says

    Phew girl that is something! Your school your times sound all too familiar to me and where I am from. We have the same relationship and open conversations with our 15 year old. So far so good, the longer he can hold out the wiser he will be. I am pressed on drinking on driving, considering I have lost TWO family member to such a tragedy. I have never witenessed anything so horrific as you did, that certainly will always and forever be with you. Thanks for sharing, just a reminder for me to have another talk with Alex. XO

  7. says

    Jess-I am so happy that you were willing and able to share this story. I’m sure it was quite difficult to go back “there”. I am so relieved that you got away. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to share your story with my girls. Just this morning I was talking with them on the way to school about rape. It’s awful that we have to prepare our children for these horrible situations, but they need to be aware, and prepared to act if they have to. You are a great Mom!! You never know…your story may help someone!!! XO

  8. says

    Jess, thank you for sharing your story and your way of parenting. Our honesty can protect our children if we use it in that way. They need to know what to do if a sticky situation arises. Good job – Mom4Real!

  9. Anonymous says

    Thank you. I have a fifteen year old grandson and his almost 40 year old Mom (my Daughter) is trying her best to raise him right. YOU are a great Mom to share that with your son. I think it made a BIG impression on him. Hugs <3

  10. says

    Wow, Jessica. Such a great post! It brought tears to my eyes too, and I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to live through something like that. It’s a tough world, even more so now than when we were young, and I give you tons of praise for staying true and honest about your experiences. It’s one of the best things we can do for our kids. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  11. says

    Jess Jess… this is why we are friends.. you my girl- are just Freaking REAL and I love that about you! You and I parent very very similar…. and I wouldn’t change any part of it ever. My opinion as well is kids need to see it, talk about it, all- Being brought up Mormon, I didn’t get “talked to” about things- which then brought me to curiosity and then..in trouble. I wish my parents were open and honest with me. This is why I am completely open with my kids. They know it ALL and probably too much lol but you know what. They heard it from “mom” first, rather then the friends or just “thinking” they know it. So high five girl! I love ya mucho!!

  12. Melissa from SomethingFun says


    Thank you for sharing your story!!! I now you said that this wasn’t a DIY post – but, it really kind of is – parenting is definitely a DIY project and there is no instruction manual!!! It is fabulous that you talk and share with your son and with us!!! In the end, we just can’t control what our children’s choices will be, but we can make sure we love them unconditionally – and I believe that is the greatest gift we can give them!!! Thanks for making me stop and think about what is reallly important!

  13. says

    What an incredibly powerful experience you’ve shared….I think Shannon nailed it her comments – our honesty gives our kids the tools to cope with things they haven’t yet experienced. I applaud your honesty, and think it’s part of the bravery required to be a Good Mom. Thanks for sharing, xoT.

  14. says

    What a great post! Thank you for sharing. I know it couldn’t have been easy.

  15. says

    What an unthinkable tragedy. I can imagine the emotions and feelings brought to the surface by sharing…thank you for being so open. I completely agree that an open, honest relationship with our kids is absolutely necessary. Like Jen said, my daughter may know too much, but I’d rather she hear from me than anyone else. My daughter is 14 and I’m so, so grateful that she still openly talks with us…I hope it doesn’t change.

  16. says

    Jessica, I am so sad you had to live through this but so thankful you chose to share it. I do think your choosing to share this experience will only make you stronger as a parent. Telling it to us…will make us wiser as parents. Thank you so much for sharing. Love, Me

  17. says

    great post, sounds like it was very scary! it is good that you are using your past experiences to help you be a great parent now!

  18. says

    In my opinion you are doing everything perfect! Understanding that mistakes happen but preparing your babies (yes at even 14 they are your baby)for what life will throw their way will give them such an advantage in so many different aspects. I knew we would get along well and now I am pretty much convinced! We must prepare them so when they are alone they can make better decisions! Happy to call you my friend sweet lady!

  19. says

    Great post, thanks for sharing. I agree 100% with being an honest parent. When I was growing up I didn’t feel I could talk to my parents…they came across as if they had never done anything wrong and always made the right decisions. I felt a lot of guilt for the mistakes/choices I’ve made.
    I never want my children to feel like that.

  20. says

    Great post, thanks for sharing. I agree 100% with being an honest parent. When I was growing up I didn’t feel I could talk to my parents…they came across as if they had never done anything wrong and always made the right decisions. I felt a lot of guilt for the mistakes/choices I’ve made.
    I never want my children to feel like that.

  21. says

    I’m sorry you had to go through that as a teenager. What a life lesson. And you proven that being honest with our kids is important. But most important, they need to be able to trust you and rely on you. ;)

  22. says

    Gosh your story sounds just how I grew up in my high school. It has something that has haunted me now that I have 2 little girls. This is an excellent example of how you took your experience & turned it into a way to help your son. It’s tough out there these days & there are days I am thankful for the things I’ve experienced so that I am educated to guide my kids. My parents were always there to be counted on. I always knew I could call them no matter what situation I was in. Back then we didn’t have cell phones only pay phones. My dad would always ask me if I had a quarter with me just in case I needed to call home. Gotta love the roots that were set in me :) Good job momma & thank you for sharing your story.

  23. says

    I am in total agreement for “for real” sharing with my children. I can’t imagine what you went through, but I am so grateful that you shared your story. I know it will make us all stop and think about what we share with our children. HUGS to you and all involved.

  24. says

    Just wonderful! I love everything about it and I swear we went to school together. ;) Your high school years mirror the world that was around me, minus this sad event you witnessed! I love everything about this; thanks for sharing!!! xo

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