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The Secret My Mom Kept for 20 Years

Recently, I saw an article with the topic “do we ever leave high school”? This article made me think of how those three years (our freshman year was at a different school) had more impact on my personality and who I am than any other three years of my life (even those first few years with my babies, oh wait, I was so sleep deprived, I am not sure what impact those had, I am still trying to catch up on sleep).  I think high school was this way for many people.

I have talked about growing up in my Mississippi town full of quirk, fun, and a lot of deep southern traditions.  It was a great place to be from, a place where your bosoms can be fake, your smile can be fake, and your hair color fake, but your pearls and silver must always be real.

I have a story I was saving for my book, but good grief, I am a blogger, I can’t hold much back.  Now, let me start by saying, I did not find out what my mother did that forever molded me into the woman I am until I was 35.  Yes ma’am, my southern mama who says Bless Her Heart at least 5 times a day, works in the court where they do divorces and commit “crazy” people so she  knows everyone’s business in town, kept a secret from me for 20 years! Amazing. But, as a mother now, I understand.

The Summer after your 9th grade year in my hometown is a big year for all girls. It is the year that you pledge for a high school sorority, well, they call it a social club, but let’s just call it what it is, a  sorority. You usually know which group you will pledge, it is with the group you have been with since you were in first grade at Poplar Springs Elementary. So, here is where things got a little “off”. See, I made football cheerleader at THE high school. There were only two sophomore spots and I and a girl from the school across town earned those spots. (Thank you mom for all those years of gymnastics and time spent helping me learn to sparkle).

This pretty much ensured that I would be picked for the social club all the girls in my group wanted in, the one all the cheerleaders were in.

That is when things changed. A few of the girls I had been friends with since our finger-painting days started to leave me out. There were sleepovers that I was not invited to, even birthday parties whose invitations must have got lost in the mail. Weird. Then, a couple of the girls became real catty with me. This continued as we started our years of high school. Now, one of these girls knew how to work the social ladder, she talked behind my back, told lies about me to get others to like her more. It hurt my feelings, but I rolled with it (after many tears).

I became friends with girls that were not in “the” popular clique, some from the other social club in town, and of course, I had a few true friends in my social club group. When we graduated and the majority of the girls from my social club went off to Ole Miss, I chose University of Southern Mississippi and am so thankful God led me there. It allowed me to choose my path, not the one laid out for me at my mom’s baby shower for me.

So, here is the BIG SECRET that I learned 20 years later: right after I made cheerleader at THE high school, one of the catty girls mom from my “group” called my mother to tell her that her daughter and I needed to get together more, do more things together, and wanted me to spend the night that weekend. I had never spent the night at this girls house. She pretty much told my mom that she and my mom needed to form an alliance and get these girls into THE social club.

And……my mother told her NO.

My sweet mom who sacrificed everything to raise my brothers and I, to give me the opportunities like being in THE social club,  knew that I would not find my way in life and to be truly who God created me to be if she forced me to be someone who I was not. (Plus, I think it made her mad at the audacity of this woman)

Of course, the social-climbing, busy body mom was only trying to do what she felt was best for her daughter. She then called another mom who gave into her pressure and those two girls were the ones who were so unkind to me throughout high school.

So, thank you mother for not yielding to MOM PEER PRESSURE and teaching me to seek out true friends based on their character, to find kindness, beauty, and love for myself.

My mom truly gave me roots and wings, and without those wings I would be grounded in a little box and missing out on this grand adventure.

Flying high,
The Park Wife

15 comments

  1. Jessica says:

    Awesome story – thanks for sharing! 🙂 It’s sad that peer pressure extends even into mom territory, isn’t it? Way to go, mom, for standing strong!

  2. Sarah says:

    This kind of stuff is what scares me about teenage parenting — and I have a BOY. Right now, I’m focused on getting him registered for Kindergarten, but I know the big, sticky decisions are waiting for me in the pre-teen/teen years. Great story, Stephanie!

  3. Jacqueline says:

    My goodness… I am so grateful I did not grow up in the South. Your mom was smart, but she also, obviously, understood you and that – wherever you are from – is what matters.

  4. Check out this conversation between my mom and me:

    Me: (With hand over the phone) “Mom, he’s asking me to go to the fair with him!”
    Mom: “What do you want me to do about that?”
    Me: “I guess I want you to say I can’t go . . . ”
    Mom: “Okay. You can’t go.”
    Me: (Into the phone) “My mom says I can’t go. So sorry. ‘Bye.”

    What are momes for, anyway? 😉
    Yours was great!

    By the way, howEVER did you find out about this after so long???

  5. Adrienne says:

    I thought growing up in rural Southeastern Oklahoma was difficult. We had cliques in a way, but we didn’t have out and out sororities. You had a good mama! It’s too tempting to do what seems to be the popular thing. It frightens me to think of what girls and their mother will be putting each other through when Ladybug is older.

  6. Peggy says:

    What an encouraging post! As the Southern mother of a sophomore , I realize how mean girls can be. It’s hard to not be a “Southern Mama”. I am so proud my daughter is bold/courageous enough to be herself!
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Amanda says:

    This is such an encouragement to me as a mama to a tween girl! I feel like my heart will nearly burst sometimes as she has faced even the smallest of social things…I will remember this story forever.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Love ya!AB

  8. I have never heard of high school sororities! Sheesh, the pressure is bad enough as it is. I didn’t even join any social organizations in college. But, there are advantages of growing up dorky; you pretty much can make it on your own. 😉

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  10. Lana says:

    Your Mom rocks! I grew up way out in the country, thirty minutes from town and went to a local private school about 7 miles from my house. I didn’t grow up with social clubs, I grew up in 4-H and our county saddle club showing horses so when I got married and moved to a small town about an hour away I was totally unprepared for all the social clubs, baby showers, teas, and functions that make up small town life. I was like, hey I’ll be on my horse all day Saturday sorry. I didn’t make a lot of friends my first several years of being married because I worked in the next town over and would not join stuff like the Junior League. But my Momma raised me to be independent and not fit in for the sake of fitting in and I thank her every day for that. More power to Mommas who recognize where their children will be happy and fulfilled for the long term and may I have the strength and insight to raise mine like that.

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