You could almost hear the sighs of relief coming out of the e-mails and letters submitted to our "Mom, I Lied" Mother's Day essay contest. Apparently people have been keeping things from Mom for years and their consciences have been killing them. • When we announced the contest we thought we were just having fun, and it turns out we were performing an important public service: free psychotherapy! • We hope you like these Mother's Day confessions. • While we were at it, we performed another public service. We elected not to print certain submissions out of concern for Mom, who after all deserves to have a peaceful day. • So Happy Mother's Day, Mom. (Check your teenage daughters for tattoos.) Mike Wilson, assistant managing editor/Newsfeatures
When I was 8, my mother and I went to live with my elderly grandmother. Grandma's house had just one bathroom, accessible only through her bedroom.
This became a nightmare late at night. Going to the bathroom meant walking through Grandma's room, in the dark. During the day, Grandma was gentle and kind, but after bedtime she terrified me. Grandma was a light sleeper and would awaken at the slightest sound, bellowing loudly, "WHO'S THERE?" or "GET OUT OF HERE," or worse.
In fear, I would sneak to the kitchen and relieve myself on the newspapers Mom left on the floor for the dog. Shortly after Grandma died, Mom said she thought the dog was "finally learning."
Mom, I lied. It wasn't the dog. Sorry Shane.
L. Mary Reister, 54; St. Petersburg.
Mary receives a Mother's Day package of gifts that includes two Pinki B. handbags created by designer Laura Evans of Clearwater; two artificial yellow garden roses from New Bloomers; a yellow necklace and bangles from Body Central; heart-shaped salt and pepper shakers from Red Envelope; a rustic rock candle set from PartyLite; and some other stuff.
I was going to high school on the subway in New York. Frank Sinatra was appearing at the Paramount, so my boyfriend and I decided to skip and went to see Frank. We pooled our money and came up with 55 cents each to get in. We both went to Catholic schools at the time; my boyfriend wrote my excuse and I wrote his. I'm now 77 and haven't told my mom, who is still alive at 100.
Grace Dowd, 77; Largo
The best of the rest
Mom, it was my senior year and my best friend and I thought it would be cool to skip our boring second-period class. We took my car and went to McDonald's for breakfast. As we made our way out, lo and behold, you and Dad parked right beside my car and were walking in the door! You never went out for breakfast! I made up a crazy story about our teacher letting us run to the store on an errand; I said we had just stopped into McDonald's for a Coke. You seemed to believe me. I felt bad, but not as bad as the cop made me feel when I was caught speeding back to school. I knew the blue lights, sirens, and $42 fine were all punishments from God. Mom, I'm sorry — and here is a check to cover the ticket cost and interest.
Kelly Zoucha, 39; Hernando
Mom, remember that time when we were rushing out of the house only to find your right tire flat on your car? Well, I had my permit at the time and I thought it was okay to take the car for a short spin just before we left the house. I ended up getting too close to a curb and popped the tire. I was so scared that I parked the car back into the driveway and acted surprised when you saw the flat tire. I AM SO SORRY!
Melanie Santarelli, 37; St. Petersburg
I was a 6-year-old girl, begging my mother for a luscious cream-filled pastry from our baker.
"You're sure you want it? You don't like cream," my mother said.
"Please, Mom. I'll eat it."
My mother gave in but warned me I had better eat it or else.
Biting into the cake, I gagged. No, I couldn't eat it. But how could I get rid of it without getting caught dumping it into the garbage?
With the cake on a plate, I slipped out the back door to the flower garden and grabbed the nearby trowel. I dug a hole, tossed the cake into it and quickly covered it with dirt. As I came back into the house, my mother, noticing the empty plate, said, "Well, you really ate the cake. I didn't think you would."
Bruny Hudson, 55; Ruskin
Remember that robin's-egg blue Chevy Malibu you were so proud of? Well, Randy borrowed it without your permission and forced me to go with him. I begged him to slow down but he just cranked the Outlaws 8-track and sped up. Your Malibu started fishtailing on the icy road and did several doughnuts before hitting a huge pile of snow. I'm sorry we let you believe the scratches were from an inconsiderate shopper. I'm sure Randy's sorry, too, even if he won't admit his involvement. He really was there.
Lori Messenger, 44; Pinellas Park
Mom, I know David and Barbara will proudly support me, their big sister, in telling you this. I lied. Little Johnnie, our neighbor in Cincinnati when I was 5, did not cut David's hair off. I did. I loved my little brother, but I hated his gorgeous brown ringlets reminiscent of a Botticelli cherub, especially since I suffered with that pixie hairdo that highlighted my pointy head. Please tell me I'm still your favorite, and don't worry, I won't tell David and Barbara.
Judith Henry, 55; Tampa
One day I went down to the basement to practice my high kicks. After kicking nothing but air for half an hour, I got bored. Then I spotted a glass window. My little heart beat with excitement. I was going to high-kick that window. When my foot exploded through the glass, my parents came rushing downstairs to see what the racket was. I looked around for an excuse. "He jumped through!" I said, pointing. Our new puppy tilted his head in wonder. Sorry mom, I lied.
Seeta Rani Nath, 18; Tierra Verde
When I got my license at 16, we lived in the country in Illinois. One day my mother gave me permission to drive the family car into town to visit a girlfriend. Since my parents were not home and were not expected for several hours, I took the liberty of driving to Chicago, 40 miles away. As fate would have it, the vehicle got a flat tire. We had the tire fixed but lost a hubcap along the way. The next day, I told my mother that I lost the hubcap when I got a flat on the way to town. Well, she wanted that hubcap back and made us all look up and down that short stretch of highway between our house and town, until we were exhausted. Good thing that she did not check the mileage.
Janet Hill-Hazlett, 56; Seminole
Mom, remember the time I called you at work screaming about my broken arm? Remember I told you I was chasing our dog around the back yard and tripped? It didn't happen quite as I explained. You had asked us not to practice cheerleading lifts without adult supervision, and I had promised we wouldn't. Well . . .
I was so ashamed about going behind your back, and so frustrated that once again you were right and I was wrong. For years now I have been embarrassed for never telling you the truth. Mom, I lied, and I'm sorry.
Meghan Dallaire, 24; Seminole
When I was about 8, I decided to conduct a science experiment in the living room. I stood at the sunny window, paper in one hand, magnifying glass in the other. My goal was to set the paper on fire using the magnified rays of the sun.
The paper never burned, but suddenly I noticed a puff of smoke coming from behind me. I turned around and saw I had burned a dime-sized hole in our new drapes!
A few weeks later, my mother said, "Do you know anything about a hole in the drapes?"
I said, "No."
"Well," she sighed, "I guess I burned a hole with my cigarette while I was dusting the windowsill."
Steve Katz, 59; New Port Richey
Mom, your favorite glass ashtray from Germany didn't actually grow feet and walk out of the house as you guessed. One day, Derrel, Lori and I lit a candle in it to melt the wax. When we were done, we went to the sink to wash the wax out. When the water hit the hot glass, the ashtray split in two. We put it in a box, went across the street and buried it. I think super glue would fix it, if you want the address to the vacant lot.
Susan Morse, 42; Clearwater
I grew up during and after WWII in a small town. Nearby was an Army base. Every Friday night the USO sponsored dances but my mother wouldn't let me go. One evening as several of us were walking into town to go to the movies, we decided on a lark to hop onto the YWCA bus that carried girls to the dance. We had lots of fun, but the bus broke down on the way back and we were stalled halfway into town. I was very worried as I had a curfew. Some men from the base came along and took us home. My mother never knew.
Elizabeth Graubard, 76; Palm Harbor
Mom's dressing table was a treasure trove of temptations. One night, I skulked into her room to explore: the lotions, the perfumes, the makeup and the piece de resistance: Mom's best pearls. I was a little glamor glutton!
Then I heard our car in the driveway.
Calamity! I pulled at the pearls. I tugged. Aaeeghh! I felt a pop! Nooo! Little oyster babies scattered like hailstones!
Feverishly, I gathered the disbanded beads, got everything back in place, slammed shut the drawers and ran up to the bathroom. Scrubbed and breathless, I vaulted into bed. I later restrung the necklace and stealthily returned it.
Days later, I stared obtusely at two errant pearls shimmering in Mom's hand.
Trapped by the obvious! Still, I slowly shrugged my shoulders and . . . outrageously . . . I lied.
Patricia McCandless, 60; Dunedin
I was 17 and dating a boy named Bill. Anytime I asked to do something or go somewhere the answer was no. Bill was having a party one Friday night and I wanted to go, so I came up with a plan. I asked if I could go roller skating that night and Mom said yes. Mom dropped me off at the rink and said she would pick me up at 11. After she left I skated 6 miles to the party. I couldn't skate back after the party because it was dark, so I had to run. Yes, Mom, I had a wonderful time.
Linda R. Thomas, 54; Albuquerque, N.M.
Mom, I was the one who shaved our dog Sam, even though I blamed my brother. I was the one who broke the leg of the dining room chair and tried to glue it back together, only to watch poor Uncle Charlie come crashing down on Thanksgiving when the glue didn't hold. I was the one who flushed your favorite Journey tape down the toilet to see if it was waterproof. IT WAS ALL ME!!!! Whew, I feel better.
Natalie Durrum, 28; Spring Hill