A Mother's Tough Love

She saw me when she looked at me, the me that was before the pain

Because she loved me...

She found a way to get through to me, as different as it was-it worked.

I was 16 years old; it was nearing the end of the first semester of my sophomore year in high school. A few weeks prior, I had celebrated my 16th birthday and it was anything but a celebration. My mother and father both lost much sleep over what I was doing with my life. They were scared for me, but in my emotionally unstable teenage mind-I felt as if they were only trying to control me and tell me I wasn’t good enough being me, whomever I thought I was at the time. At 16 years old I weighed around 85lbs and was 5’4” tall. At 17 years old I had managed to pickup a number of habits which included killing my pain and suffering with substances that were anything but legal.

I justified my decisions as being alright and I refused to admit that I was not in control of the things I was abusing, only because I was still able to maintain the grade point average of an Honor Student. I hadn’t spoken to my mother in a little over a week, so I wasn’t expecting for her to show up at my High School and have me released from class at 11:30am. When I walked from my English class towards the main office, my eyes locked onto hers. She was wearing scrubs, as she did every day and although she wasn’t smiling, the expression on her face was inviting, yet sad. I didn’t ask her until we were half way to San Antonio where we were going and how she was able to get off of work to get me released.

She glanced over at me, as I clenched my backpack that was resting in my lap, and said, “I have a few people that I think you should meet”.

“Oh great”, I thought to myself, “Are you taking me to see another shrink?” I asked in a displeasing tone.

 “No, unless you think a new counselor would do something for you that the past three were not able to?” she replied in a sarcastic tone to combat my attitude.

“Whatever, Mom”, I said as I rolled my eyes at her. “Perhaps if you stop thinking that I am so bad, you could see that I am not bad at all. I am fine-my only problem is I hate my life, and I hate you. You and Dad think you know everything, but you don’t! Everyday I walk the halls of High School, and I might as well be walking the halls of Hell”, I said harshly-knowing that the words I spoke would hurt.

She said nothing; she just grabbed my hand and held it. Even though I was angry, I didn’t pull my hand from hers, truth was-I loved it when my Mother would reach out for me. It reminded me she still cared, even if it was just a few minutes at a time.

The rest of the drive was silent. I had closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, until I waken up as my mothers hand released mine so she could remove the car keys from the ignition. I looked around at the crowded parking lot, and realized we were at my mother’s work, which happened to be one of the largest Hospitals in San Antonio. She had been working the Pediatric ICU for years, and always had sad stories to share, in an attempt to scare the crap out of me and my siblings so we would think before we acted.

I walked through the doors with hesitation. “I hate this smell”. I mumbled under my breath.

“What smell?” she asked.

“The smell of sick people”, I said.

“We wont be here too long, I will take you home in a little bit, after you meet a few people that you have a few things in common with”, she replied. Her tone sounded as if she was attempting to plea with me to just relax and listen. For some reason, I listened to the tone in her voice that told me to listen to what she had to say to me. She walked me to a window that looked into one of the rooms. Inside of the room, was a girl that looked as if she was sleeping, she had half a dozen different monitors and IV lines running to her body.

I couldn’t help but stare as my mother introduced me to Lillian. She explained that Lillian, like me, was 16 years old. She had taken a cocktail of LSD and Cocaine and was laying in that hospital on Life Support.

Before I was able to respond, I felt my mothers hand in mine again. She began to take a few steps to her left, and tugged at me to follow, which I did. She then introduced me to Lillian’s 5 year old brother Cody. The night that Lillian decided to take her cocktail, Cody was annoying her. So in her drug induced haze she began to beat her little brother, who my mother said, will not ever walk again. My mother explained that Lillian would have killed her brother if it wasn’t for her heart stopping. I was frozen. I had nothing to even try and say, I had no thoughts no anger, no questions. (Lillian died a few days after my visit to the hospital -and her brother did walk again, after 5 years of physical therapy)

As my mother led me from the ICU, unit, I thought we were done and I was going to go home. She wasn’t done; she had one more stop to make on this mother daughter field trip. We walked through the hall to the elevator. I didn’t look to see what floor we were headed for, but the moment that the doors opened and we stepped onto the linoleum floor- I knew where we were. The Psyche Ward of the hospital. The floor had a different smell and a different chill in the air. We didn’t walk far-until we arrived at my mothers last planned stop. Another girl, another girl my age. She was nothing but skin and bones, just like I was. She refused to eat, and to aid her on her conquest to be thin, she used a variety of drugs, some legal, many not legal. I asked my mom how long she had been like that.

“My mother responded, she has been a patient on and off for 2 years, and she no longer controlled her problems, now her problems are controlling her. She will die if her doctors can’t help her.”

As I sat and spoke with my mother, I was thinking about Lillian and her brother, and said-I have never hurt anyone Mom, never”.

She said, “I know you haven’t, not yet anyways. You haven’t hurt anyone accept for yourself.”

My mother then poured out her heart to me through hundreds of tears that fell from her eyes. She told me that she loved me and although I can not see now, she hopes that I will see someday that pain that she feels with the loss of not being able to help me. She said she remembers her little girl that would take wash clothes and wrap them around her Barbie Dolls, and carefully secure the washcloth with rubber bands to make a mermaid fin. She told me that is the little girl she still sees when she looks at me. She apologized for things I never blamed her for. She said that she will do everything in her power to ensure that I can grow from my adolescence and not be lost to it. I listened to my mother that day, and I saw her pain, the pain that I caused. To this day almost 15 years later-I still remember the worry and concern in her voice, as she begged me to help her save my life.

This Hub Came to Be

This hub came to be, by the request of another Huber, who urged me to write it after a forum post. So Rafini, here is the Hub, at your request; the story of my mother's 'Tough Love".

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Comments 38 comments

Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

I was just poking around for a few minutes before going to bed when I found this hub, HC. This is a truly beautiful story, and a tribute to both you and your mother; your mother for continuing to try and reach out to you through your pain, no matter how difficult it was for her. It is also a tribute to you, for being able to see through the pain for even a little bit and recognize that your mother was acting out of love and wanted you to be happy and well. It brings back feelings and memories that I am not strong enough to articulate, at least for now. I hope there are many more stories like your own, where parents are unwilling to give up on their children and make every effort to connect with them in a meaningful way. I also hope there are many more children like you were--able to see through the hurt you were feeling and hear your mother's words.

Thanks for sharing this, it is beautiful and extremely important. Voted up and rated beautiful.


Justine76 6 years ago

Beautifully written.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 6 years ago from Georgia

There is just something about the love of a mother. She will do whatever she has to protect her child/children and keep them on the right track. Though it can be painful, at times it is neccessary for parents to take drastic actions to keep their children safe.

Thank you for sharing this part of life with us. As we all read here, this experience really stuck with you.

samboiam profile image

samboiam 6 years ago from Texas

What an amazing story. Thank you for being willing to share this with us.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Mike-Thanks for the comment. I do agree with your comment about my mother, she is and was always great-even when I wasnt. As for me-I know for a fact that I tested each limit and rule that ways set for me-and often tested their love for me-I am very lucky that she loved me so much to always believe in me the way that she does.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Justine- Thank you Ma'am, for leaving a comment, I am glad that you liked this one :)

Justine76 6 years ago

words failed me. Thank you for sharing and I wish I could come up wihth a better arrangement of more well placed words, but...well..I get it.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Veronica, So very true- a mother is amazing... My mother was Amazing, and still is. I dont know how she did it, but she managed to raise 5 decent people, and is still loving and caring towards all of us-regardless of what we put her through

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

samboiam, thanks for reading and commenting on another hub of mine- Wow, two in one day-I am feeling extremely honored :) Thanks for the kind words :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


not a problem Ma'am...the comment was short and sweet :)

I appreciate each and every comment that is left, I am just glad that people take the time out of their lives to read what I write :)

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

This is a terrific hub. I'm glad your mother took you on that field trip to the hospital where she worked. I hope it helped you to give up the things that were hurting you, that had your mom so worried.

Joni Douglas profile image

Joni Douglas 6 years ago

Truly an awesome hub. You made us feel not only your ambivalence to life but the love and resolve of your mother. Using our own tough life lessons to help others can be a difficult yet remarkable thing to do. Thank you for sharing your story.

Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 6 years ago from UK

This is truly a brilliant hub - I wish that teenagers in the position you were in would get to read it. Thank you for sharing this very powerful story.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Paradise, I have grown a lot since then (it has been about 15 years), and yes her field trip made me pull my head out of my you know what (at least for awhile). My mother has always had a way of getting her point across, even when I didnt want to hear it. Thanks for the comment :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Joni, Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I am glad that you enjoyed the read. If only I would have known then, what I know now- I would have made so many different choices and chosen so many different words.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Alison, You are too kind. I appreciate you coming by to read this hub and for taking the time to leave a comment. If we could all teach a lesson with the mistakes we make in life-so many kids would be better off for it...Unfortunately they never seem to care when adults are giving them warnings... Guess it is all part of growing up

BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

The true stories on the hub about mother and father's love are so great. This is one of them. I'm glad that your mom loved you so. So we could hear your story.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

BJBenson, Thanks for the kind words. I am a lucky person to have a family that always wanted the best for me, even when I acted as though they had no clue what the best actually was. Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment

h.a.borcich profile image

h.a.borcich 6 years ago

Very glad your Mom did what it took to reach you. And glad you listened :) Holly

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Thanks Holly for leaving a comment- I am glad that you decided to read this. I am thankful for my mothers choices as well

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

I had to stop reading so I could get tissue and take time to cry - more than once! Beautifully written, HC, and thanks again for sharing such a personal story with a positive outcome.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Oh No, I didn't want to make you cry... I guess that means it was a good piece though :) Thanks for giving me the encouragement to write it- you were the inspiration behind this one :) I am glad you were able to read it and that you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for following me and for leaving a comment :)

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

HC - I had to come back to finish what I couldn't say earlier. (yes! a very good piece!)

When I read your forum post it moved me in such a way that I felt the strength of the bond between your mother and you. (there is some truth behind the Beatles song 'All You Need Is Love') This is an extremely Powerful message of love and inspiration that I hope everyone can hear - and the true inspiration comes from your mother. :)

maudine_05 profile image

maudine_05 6 years ago from United States

I almost cried reading this HC! I 've been having problem with my son and most of the time he hate me but still that won't stop me from being overprotective of him which he sees as over controlling him, its just how a mother like yours love...VERY NICE HUB with SALUTE to you!!!

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Rafini-Thanks for coming back :D and Thank you again-my mother deserves the compliment :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Maudine, I am sorry to hear of your struggles with your son-I am sure as he matures and becomes a man, he will appreciate all that you do to protect him and show him how much you cherish his life. Thanks fr leaving a comment :)

carrie450 profile image

carrie450 6 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

What a beautiful story of a unrelenting love for her daughter! Written so well HC. Tears came to my eyes as I read it. I'm so happy for you that everything has turned out okay.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Thank you for your comment. I am glad that you liked the hub. I have been lucky to have so many people in my life love me enough to try and help me, even when I believed that everything was alright. I guess at 16 we all think we know what we need and want-but we dont, which is why parents are so important. Thanks again :)

Virtual Treasures profile image

Virtual Treasures 5 years ago from Michigan

I'm not even sure how I stumbled onto your hub, but by the time I finished reading it, I was in tears. The most beautiful aspect was feeling like you felt and knew your mother loved you, even when you hated her. It's amazing how quickly most of us grow out of that. With so many teenagers surrounding me now, I pray everyday that no matter where life leads us, they always know that my actions stem from my deep love for them. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 5 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Virtual Treasures

The crazy thing about being a kid is you realize so much when you become an adult. I am sure that your kids will see the love you have for them when they are older, even if they do not now. Hate and Love have a very blurred line and are easily crossed and recrossed. I fear the day that my children dont want to hug and love on me but hit me and get away...but I know it will happen because it is apart of life and growing- I will give them whatever lessons I have to, to show them my love (tough or gentle). I wish you all the strength in the world being surrounded by teens, I am sure you will get through to them with your love, even if they never share that with you. thanks for reading and for the comment :)

Lesleysherwood 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing this with us. A mother's love truly is unconditional. I think we have all been there. We have all treated our parents in ways that we now regret. Your mother was a very wise woman, taking you to see these people. She knew/knows you love her. She was a teenager once too.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 5 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Lesleysherwood - Yes, I know she was once a teen (she was a model teenager though) I was more so the poster child for the disfunction in the youth). But I have grown up-despite my problems-faults and all else, and I couldnt have done it without her...thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it!

pandora99 profile image

pandora99 5 years ago from Charles Town, West Virginia

What a moving story, it's beautifully written and a wonderful lesson. Thanks for sharing.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 5 years ago from Lone Star State Author

pandora99-Thank you for the comment, and you are welcome,I am glad so many decided to read it :)

Ashanti 4 years ago

This is a great storie that has really tuched my hear :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Ashanti- thank you for your comment and for reading. i am glad that you liked my writing here :)

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 2 years ago from Jamaica

Thanks Holly, for pouring out your heart here. It must be really painful talking about this. I wish we can still help my step daughter...I really hope so.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 2 years ago from Lone Star State Author


I have taken so many wrong turns in my life- and with everything i have managed to do to myself, I know I should not be alive today. Not only am I still alive, I am okay- I didnt contract any diseases-land in prison or in any real trouble. I still vividly remember my frame of mind during those years of my life and I can guarantee that your step daughter has no clue the danger she creates for herself or the truth behind the pain that she is causing. At that age, we don't see past that moment and our own desires. In her mind she is just having fun. As unfair as it is to us as parents- this is when love hurts the most. If you get the opportunity for another chance and she makes her way home again- WAKE HER UP- SHOCK HER- show her the reality of her choices and the way that life can change and end in the blink of an eye. Ask around your community- many police stations and jails have a program that allows prisoners (non dangerous ones) to speak to children- to show them where they don't want to be. Show her pictures of murdered children and grieving friends (not parents- she can not relate to parents). Show her the truth of AIDS, HIV and other STD's. Find teen mothers to give her a taste of that reality.

Yes she is young, and perhaps the content of what you will be showing her is too old for her, but if she is disappearing, she is taking on the responsibility of being an adult and I hope not making decisions that a child should not be making-but if she is, make her want to enjoy her childhood.

I will have you in my thoughts and my prayers until she is finally at peace within her soul. Best of luck my friend- you are strong, and I believe that things will turn out okay.

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