My first year out of college, living large as a hard-working graphic designer for Tiger Beat magazine, I had a boyfriend who was still in college. He was attending my alma mater, the University of Delaware and I was living in northern New Jersey with mom and dad. I was the span of the Jersey Turnpike away from him, 122 miles plus another half hour or so to drive to Newark, DE on I95.

I drove down there almost every weekend. I’d leave work on Friday and hop right on the Turnpike, not to return to my parent’s home until 7 or 8 pm on Sunday. Sometimes my boyfriend would be at his home in Jersey, which was “down the shore.” Sometimes, but rarely, he came up by me.

My point in all this is to show a pattern. For at least a year I was away from home every weekend. I’d tell my folks “I’m heading to U of D this weekend” or “I’m heading to the shore this weekend.” It was almost a ritual – they should’ve been surprised if Saturday dawned and I was at home.

This one particular summer weekend, my boyfriend and I had tickets to see the band “Boston.” They were playing at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and the plan was for me to pick him up at his home by the shore, and drive to Philly for the show. Afterward, rather than heading back to Jersey, the plan was to drive to the apartment he lived at during the school year – his roomies were still there taking summer courses.

So, after work on Friday, I tooled down to the shore in my ultra cool Karmann Ghia convertible, picked up my dude, and we headed to Philly for a night of mediocre rock n’ roll. The show was actually very enjoyable – thanks to horribly repetitive NY radio I knew almost all of their songs. Once the show was over, we made the hour drive to the campus and hit the hay.

I was woken up by one of his roommates at around 7 am. He said, “your mom is on the phone” and it hit me. I had never told my mother I was not going to be home that weekend. After all these months…almost a year of me not being home on the weekends, did she really worry about where I was all night long?

The second I said “hello” I knew I was in the shitter. Neck high. She didn’t even yell at me – she was too busy crying. I don’t know if any of you out there have experienced this, but you’ve never really felt true and utter doom until you know you’ve made your mommy cry.

I apologized profusely while she sobbed, and when she was able to regain her composure, she told me I was grounded. I was almost 23 at the time, and my mom was grounding me? I found out that she waited up all night for me and finally called my boyfriend’s mom that morning who confirmed we had been at her house yesterday and were now in Delaware for the weekend. We hung up on very bad terms – her mad and me feeling like a steaming pile of manure.

On the one hand, I was mortified. I’d made my mother cry. I’d put her through a night of misery and torture due to my forgetfulness. I knew from prior experience that my mom did NOT sleep until her kids were all where they were supposed to be. It was never a bad idea to call her at 2 am when the bars closed to let her know you were going to White Castle for a few burgers. She was always up and always thankful for the call. On the other hand, I wondered why she hadn’t called my boyfriend’s mom the night before when she first began to worry. It was sort of a “no duh” where I probably was.

In any case, my mood was ruined. We had plans to go to the zoo in Philly that day, and as we sat at breakfast I was both pensive and disappointed in myself. I’d really screwed up and I knew it. We still went to the zoo, but the day sucked all around. I just wasn’t in the mood.

Things were bad between my mom and me for at least a week – she loved deeply and openly, but when you pissed her off, she knew how to hold a grudge. I never forgot to tell her where I was going again, but to this day, I can’t listen to Boston without reliving that horrible weekend.

I’ll never stop at one of their songs when I’m flipping through the stations. But if I’m with hubby and he decides to stop flipping at a Boston song, I figure it’s my cross to bear – a reminder of when I was a lousy daughter. And it makes me wonder if one of my daughters will put me through what I put her through.

Payback’s a bitch.