A Mom’s Tears

I have many experiences with mothers and fathers dropping off their boys to our facility to get help. I have seen many tears and many stressful moments from the boys and their parents. Bringing your child to a treatment facility can’t be an easy thing, ever; period.  Few experiences have moved me to the point of tears like this particular mother’s did.

Her plan was to come and tour Oxbow before she brought her son. Circumstances changed suddenly, the night before her visit in fact, and it became imperative that she bring her son with her and leave him with us the same day as her tour.  This alone caused untold amounts of stress as she had to purchase two additional plane tickets, make arrangements for her other children and make the stressful journey to a far away State.

The only description I can give of this mother upon arrival is pure exhaustion.  I gave her a huge hug as she came in. She seemed to sink against me.  Her eyes were glassy as she took in the facility, the photos on the walls, the boys rooms. Within about fifteen minutes of her arrival we were packing up her son and sending him to the mountain.

Let me explain.  All the boys were on their last camp-out for the summer in the La Sal National Forest at about 10,000 ft.  Mom and I had significant paperwork to fill out and with the promise that we could go up to the camp after it was finished she let us take her young son up to the mountain.

Paperwork ensued and some time later we ourselves were on our way to the campsite.  Mom’s eyes watched out the window as we turned and curved our way up into the hills.  She kept assuring us that she was ok; that she felt good about leaving her son with us.  When we arrived dinner was in progress, chili dogs and some random fish fillets caught by the boys that afternoon. mmmmmmmm… Mom’s son was already busy introducing her to his new friends, he was already filthy, like he had been there a week.  She talked with some of the other boys, never really taking her awareness off her son.

The sun was slowly sinking and it seemed as soon as we arrived it was time to go. She hugged her son so tightly I thought the two might become one, and she walked back to the car glancing back several times, eyes glistening. As the car door shut, the group of us were discussing how well her son was settling in, but our chattered died away as we noticed the tears rolling down her cheeks and her body curled over into huge racking sobs.

It was then that I had the same thought that I often have when I work with these boys. But it came to me with such a force I felt like my own heart might break. This was not just another admit. This boy was not number 18 or number 23. this boy was not a statistic, he was not just the kid that needs this or that.  This boy, was some-one’s son.  And not just any-one’s son, this mother who sat beside me. Her most precious possession in all the world had just been entrusted to us to care for and help.

No matter how much trouble they are; no mater how much knuckle-head-itis they have, they are children of very loving parents. Which means they are the most important beings in someones life.

I hope all the parents of boys that have been or are at Oxbow know how much we care about each one of your sons. I hope all future parents will find some solace in knowing that we understand how difficult it is to entrust the care of them to us. No family wants this to be the path their children take, but it must help to know that there are people out there in some faraway State that understand that, and that we are here to help.



  1. Jennifer Jones

    Thank you, Erin for the wonderful way you love all our families.

  2. Karla

    Oxbow is an amazing place for our boys and without the love each person has for our boys I feel 100% that the boys would never progress as they do. When I met you Erin after many months of being in the program with our son, I felt the love and care you had for my son immediately, and for that I thank you.

  3. Graduate

    I am a graduate of the amazing program that Oxbow academy is. I cannot put into words teh gratitude and respect I hold for not only you Erin, but also the rest of those that work at Oxbow. Every day since I have graduated, I have wondered if I will ever be able to repair the damage I caused to those I loved, but now, having gone through Oxbow successfully and with pride I can say with strength, that I am well on my way to becoming a supportive member of my community. The loving staff members gave me the faith and committment I needed to see that the best way to earn back the faith of my family, and myself, was to be the best I could be. I may not have actually known you, because I graduated almost two years ago, but I can already tell how much you devote your faith to the lucky young boys and men at this program. I am currently a high school senior, have a strong support net of friends and people I trust, a loving boyfriend, and a job in retail, which I plan to hold on to. I am planning on going to college next year with the tools I have picked up not only through Oxbow, but through the better half of my life, post-treatment.

  4. Graduate

    Moms out there, this is a hard time for you I’m sure, and I can’t lie and say that it will get easier immediately. But I can tell you the truth in that your children, will come out of this program strong, healthy, and mature young men, willing to give back to society because they know how to fix problems and create solutions.

    Gregg, Heather, Shaun, Amy, you all were there for me so many times. I had my ups and my downs, I thought I might make interdependent once, but I never quite attainted that goal. I think you’d all be proud if you could see the way I act the interdependent person in society post-Oxbow. Shaun, I’m sorry I can’t say my name here, but I still have my mission statement, and my braclet. I will always remember what you taught me. Gregg, Heather, you were the best therapists and support groups I could have asked for. I can laugh and smile because i know that you’ve helped many other residents to get to the point I am now. And Amy, you were like a mom to me during my stay at Oxbow. You were hard on us, and expected the rules to be followed, but you had faith in us to change and become great people, and I can never thank you enough for that. May have even cracked a smile or two at times when I and my best friend in the program would pull out the stereo and start singing “Heaven” to their songs.

    I love my life now, I love Oxbo, and I love that I can be an example to other boys and young men like myself.

    I am strong and will give back to the community.
    I believe it, and I will be it.

  5. A Mom Who Knows

    Erin – this made me cry all over again. My Son has been with you for 5 months now and though it feels like a lifetime, reading this brought back all the emotions of leaving him as if it were just today. This was the hardest decision of my life – entrusting my precious Son to you all, complete strangers, was a complete leap of faith, but it was and still is the best decision I’ve ever made. The changes in him are amazing. We’re not through the tunnel into the light all the way, but we can certainly see it and it’s growing brighter every day thanks to all the staff at your facility. I truly do not know what we would have done without you. Anyone out there reading this and needing assurance – please know that these folks truly will love and cherish your child as much as you do….they are amazing, they work miracles and can save your child’s life if you will allow them.

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