Mom, Did You Ever Take Drugs?

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My husband is always telling me that I am far too open with my children about, well, everything. This annoyed him a great deal when they were younger. While I am the best person to tell your secrets to (I hate gossip and I know how to keep my mouth shut) it never felt…right, to me, to cover up my children’s questions with a lie or a half-truth.

I was a child born of the generation of parents who felt that children should be protected from family secrets – even the really awful secrets like, say, which Uncle to avoid because of the tendency his hands had of wandering where they shouldn’t. As I grew older, this habit my parents had of ‘protecting’ me from the truth extended to the time they euthanized my sick and aging cat after I had moved away from home (even though I made them swear to let me know when it was time) or telling me three months after the fact that a cousin I had not been that close to due to distance, had died three months earlier. As a result, when my kids ask me a question, I have always been inclined to answer with the truth.

“Mom, have you ever taken drugs?” asked my son one day when he was perhaps 11 or 12 years old. I took in a big, surprised breath. Oh, boy… My experience with drugs was thankfully very limited, but I did have a rather boring story to share. Now, how to do that honestly without tacitly giving him (and his younger sister – she was in the room when he asked) permission to ‘go for it’ when their time came in the not-too-distant future? (i.e. ‘Well I know YOU did drugs, Mom, so don’t go telling me that I can’t.’)

“Yes…” I admitted, as my son’s eyes opened wide and his sister’s head whipped around in astonishment. “I tried marijuana three times in university. A couple times, I felt nothing at all but the last time, I got really, really paranoid. It wasn’t pleasant – actually, it really scared me – and I never bothered with it again.”

“What about other drugs?” asked my daughter, now clearly as interested as her brother.

“Nope.” I was pleased to report. “Never tried anything else – that’s it.”

The thing is, though, there’s something to be said for being honest with your kids: when I tell them something, because I have always answered as truthfully as I could (based on their age, of course), they believe me.  And they know me. There will be no questions unanswered; no words left unsaid when I am gone. It may not all be pretty, but they will never be left wondering.

As honest and forthright as I am with my children, I hold my cards tight to my chest with the rest of the world. I was blessed, in my early twenties, to have a friend who repeated each and every word anyone said to her. She loved to be the bearer of good and bad news. She loved to be the person ‘in the know’. She couldn’t help it, and yet somehow, I loved her anyway. I did learn, though, that anything I said to her was, 100%, going to be repeated. It was great practice for the rest of my life: I learned to filter what I did tell her, and if it was something I didn’t want repeated, I learned to keep my mouth firmly shut.

A dear friend of mine recently told me that when she was growing up, the words ‘I heard (…)’ and ‘Did you hear (…)?’ were forbidden in her home. You didn’t repeat personal information that had been shared with you – in secret or even casually. The news being shared belonged solely to the sharer. And the sharer alone could communicate that news as they pleased. Whether it was the joyous news of a much-wanted pregnancy or the terrible news of a friend’s husband’s infidelity. I feel exactly the same way: when someone tells me something, and until they get to know me, if they ask me ‘not to say anything’, my answer is always the same; “That’s yours to share. And I appreciate you sharing this with me.”

It has taken me months to finish this post. I couldn’t figure out why I was writing about that long-ago question my son asked about drugs, or what point I was trying to make. But the point is this: over time, my children have earned my trust and more importantly, my honesty, when they actually do ask me a question.

We tend to forget, today, how sacred it is to share a bit of ourselves with someone else. Social media has made it possible for us to disclose our every move in real time, should we choose to do so. But real sharing: crying on a friend’s shoulder over a break-up; trusting another with your biggest secret; being completely open and vulnerable with another human being; those are gifts: not to be taken lightly.

Not to be shared by anyone but the sharer…

Source of image

Patti Moore Wilson/ © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com

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Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

28 thoughts on “Mom, Did You Ever Take Drugs?”

  1. I was totally honest with my 3 too. I happen to think that it’s the best thing, even given all the bad stuff that has gone on in our family. Some would say my honesty could’ve been WHY the bad things happened (sorry I’m being a bit vague) but I don’t agree. Being honest with them has encouraged them to speak to me as honestly. All 3 tell me everything, good and bad. Sometimes I’ve wished I didn’t know haha, but realistically, I know how damaging keeping secrets can be. I could write on and on about this, but I don’t want to dick all over your blog.

    (Is there any way I could send you a private message though, Patti? I do have some news for you – non-gossipy stuff).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, my kids – my daughter especially – have always been pretty open with me, too. I’d rather err on the side of ‘too much information’.

      And yes, if you go on my blog’s home page and click on ‘contacts’ you can send me a private e-mail. I tried to find that option on your page to no avail…?

      Like

  2. This is a lovely post, Patti. I think there’s a lot to be said for honesty with children. I used to work as a grief counselor and the different ways to NOT tell a child that someone died were astonishing. Kids were often left confused and denied a chance to question and process feelings. I think it’s the same with all kinds of difficult truths. But honesty brings clarity and trust, and those are precious. And keeping confidences is another side of that trust. It’s an honor to be confided in, to hold someone else’s trust. You’ve taught your children well. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My kids, now grown up, believe that I will be honest with them when asked a question, however, there have been a few times I’ve told them that I didn’t feel comfortable answering. Everyone has the right to keep some things between them and God.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well written and thanks for sharing.. the only drugs I have ever done is cigarettes (quit in 1983) and prescription drugs but they can be just as bad as the non-prescription drugs… 🙂 while truth may not always get the best results, it is the only option in the end… 🙂

    “I have a greater peace of mind by being straightforward and truthful about myself and letting the chips fall where they may, rather than to wake up tomorrow morning and have to deal with a falsehood I told yesterday.” (Larry Woller 7-30-2017.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wholeheartedly agree! I feel like I know you though we’ve never met. I’m also glad to have people different from me close, because it broadens your perspective on things. To surround yourself only with people who think like you is an echo chamber. Thank YOU for the writes! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It is so terribly hard to be honest at times…like the use of drugs…but you are so right to point out how terribly important it is. If our kids are to trust us, we have to give them a reason to do so…and it is through good honesty. I am still fumbling around as a parent of young ones and once my son asked me how babies are made when he was only 5. I told him I would tell him more about it when he is ready. It has been a few years and I am still preparing myself for the moment when he ask me again. 🙂 With honesty it will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it sounds like you are on the right track 😊😊😊 Funny, the ‘where do babies come from’ was easy for me, thanks to my Mom. She told me to just say as much as my kids could handle until the NEXT question came along. ‘They come from a Mommy’s tummy’ sufficed for quite a while. By the time they wanted to know how they got IN there, we were BOTH ready for the answer 😊 and even THAT question came in stages, over a few years. You’re going to do just fine…xoxo 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am on a lost path most of the time when it comes to parenting. Oh, wise advice indeed about giving them little by little! Why didn’t I think of that!? Hahaha…thanks so much, Patti.

        Liked by 1 person

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