I never imagine that I would see one of my parents in such a state, but there stood my mom, intoxicated.
It was the night of my mother’s birthday, and she had just returned home from a night of celebrating. To say I was crushed would be an understatement. Like every boy, I placed my mother on a pedestal and felt her current state was beneath her. As soon as she was put to bed, I went to bed.
I couldn’t sleep that night for the thoughts running through my mind. Throughout my entire life, my parents warned me about not drinking or smoking. Where their words failed, I learned through observation. Our family didn’t attend church on a regular basis, so it wasn’t a Christian belief. In my generation, however, whatever your parents said was law. It never crossed my mind that I would be the disappointed one.
I avoided my mother the following day. So great was my disappointment that I didn’t want to talk to her. My flawed plan came to an end when my mother confronted me. “What is wrong?” she asked.
There it was, the elephant in the room. I slowly turned to my mother and proceeded to tell her how I felt.
“Mom, I cannot believe you came home drunk! You tell me not to drink and about how bad it is and then you arrive home like that!”
She took a moment to think. I wasn’t sure how she would respond.
“David, it was my birthday and my brothers took me out to celebrate.”
“If I came home drunk and told you that my friends (Fred, Leroy, or John) were to blame, would you accept it?” I asked.
Again, I wasn’t sure how she would respond. Drunk or not, she was my mom. She could have played the parent card, but to her credit, did not.
“You are right, and I am sorry,” she finally replied. “It will never happen again.”
That was a key moment during my teenage years. My mother’s actions placed us both in uncharted waters and caused a temporary role-reversal in our relationship. She could have told me, “Do like I say and not like I do.”
Instead, she owed up to her mistake and promised never to do it again. She demonstrated both how to fail and what to do when one fails. She also demonstrated strength, humility and accountability.
She never broke her promise, and as a result of her actions, I continued to stay strong during my peer pressure-filled teenage years. What started out as following the directions of my parents grew into doing what was right for me as an athlete.
Each time my peers offered me alcohol or drugs, I declined because it did not fit in with the dreams and goals I set for myself. Abstinence became both a mindset and a way of life. I never judged my peers, because that wasn’t my place.
As best as a teenage football player could, I understood what I wanted out of life and that I had a responsibility to take care of myself. That responsibility was far more important then yielding to peer pressure.