Mom Uncovers Her Daughter’s Abandoned Dorm Room Before The Reality Sinks In

Moms might be overbearing, and they might nag us, and they might act like helicopters with endless amounts of fuel, and — wait, where were we going with this? We can’t deny how much we truly love our mothers, and the bizarre, embarrassing ways they show their undying love for their families.

And quirky New York City mom Deanna Pilling planned to show her daughter some of that undying love by surprising her at college in 2016. Her spontaneous gesture soon backfired, however, when a surprise peek into her child’s dorm room left her feeling sick.

After New York resident Deanna Pilling, AKA “Momma Pilling,” watched her daughter McKenna go off to Utah State University, a bittersweet feeling swallowed her whole. It was a year full of adjustments, and she couldn’t wait to pick McKenna up at the end of her freshman year.

@larsen.mckenna / Instagram

So Deanna booked a flight to Utah to help McKenna pack up her dorm room a day earlier than planned. Wanting her trip to be a thrilling surprise, she gave her daughter no warning about her impromptu trip.

Bill Dillard

She did, however, call her daughter to ask what her plans were for the night, hoping McKenna was free for her arrival. McKenna didn’t answer, so Deanna simply boarded her flight to Logan, Utah, with zero knowledge of where her daughter would be.

Five hours later, she landed in Utah and took a cab to the university. En route, she received a call back from her daughter, which she rejected. She didn’t want to feel guilty for lying and wind up spoiling the surprise.

@larsen.mckenna / Instagram

Because Deanna hadn’t been to McKenna’s school in nine months, she blindly circled the campus looking for her daughter’s dormitory. She could’ve easily asked a random student for directions… if she remembered the name of the building she was searching for. Oh boy.

Kristin Murphy / Deseret News

When she spotted some of her daughter’s college pals huddled right outside of a dormitory building, she beelined for the doors. She recognized the group from McKenna’s social media posts. That Deanna is an internet super-sleuth.

Digerati Films

Deanna, a skilled interior designer, confidently rode the elevator up to her darling daughter’s floor. When she finally arrived, she roamed the barren hallways until she found the room she knew was her daughter’s.

Claire Wang / The Stanford Daily

Momma Pilling knocked on the door, just imagining McKenna’s gleeful reaction to seeing her, but no one answered. So, she barged right in, surprised that her daughter would leave the door unlocked.

Paramount Pictures

It looked as though McKenna had packed up all of her belongings already. No photos were on the wall, her clothing was zipped up in suitcases, and her desk and nightstand were free of knickknacks. Momma Pilling was staggered.

Josie Norris / San Antonio Express-News

But McKenna’s bedsheets were still spread on her bed. Since she had no clue where McKenna even was, Deanna thought it’d be funny to hop in her daughter’s twin bed and send her a selfie. Along with the selfie, Deanna texted “Look where I am! Where are you?”

Vanderbilt University

In just a few minutes, McKenna saw her mother’s selfie surprise. And boy was she surprised. It turned out that McKenna was resting in her actual room after finishing a batch of finals. Her stomach dropped, and she immediately texted her Momma Pilling back.


It was then Deanna who received a surprise. McKenna wrote back “Where’s that? I’m in my dorm. Please tell me you’re not in someone else’s dorm.” And that’s when it all sunk in for the offbeat Momma Pilling.

@kennapilling / Twitter

In a panic, she texted her daughter back, saying “I am in the wrong dorm omg.” She immediately leapt out of the stranger’s bed and darted out of the room, laughing the entire time. This wasn’t out of character for the eccentric mom, who describes herself as “kind of a dorky mom.”

@larsen.mckenna / Instagram

“Imagine ‘The Absent-Minded Professor.’ I’m a little bit like that, with a big heart. I get myself into weird situations sometimes, unknowingly,” the NYC mom told TODAY in May 2016. It’s as if Deanna lives in a ’90s sitcom.

Walt Disney Pictures

“I was in a panic of where she was. I was scared of whose room that was. I didn’t want her to embarrass me,” McKenna explained to TODAY. Deanna was actually in McKenna’s friend’s room, as said friend recognized the bedding in the photo. “She’s like, ‘Wait, is that my pillowcase?'” McKenna explained.

@larsen.mckenna / Instagram

Though Deanna was in the right building, she meandered over to the wrong floor. When Deanna and her daughter found each other, they were both cackling like the silliest hyenas. “I thought she was such a dork and it’s just something she would do,” McKenna lovingly said.


McKenna, who’s studying occupational therapy, couldn’t help but post the hysterical pickle on Twitter. Her tweet, which featured a screenshot of the hilarious texts, has earned 17,000 retweets and almost 38,000 likes. Momma Pilling became a viral internet sensation!

@larsen.mckenna / Instagram

“When your kids get older, you’re the brunt of their jokes and it’s fine and it’s fun. I adore my kids, so it’s all good,” Deanna explained. Though McKenna likes to rag on her geeky mother, she loves her dearly.

@larsen.mckenna / Instagram

“I’m so thankful for her. She’s helped me so much and she’s such a good sport,” McKenna said. She wasn’t embarrassed by her mom, especially when she heard the story of parental intervention on a neighboring college campus.

George Frey / Salt Lake Tribune

Nicole Walters had it all. She had a career a big, loving family and her eldest daughter just beginning her college journey. As wonderful as life was, that also meant that she had a lot to lose. In 2017, she feared she was devastatingly close to losing everything…

Facebook / Monetize Thyself

See, Nicole founded Monetize Thyself, an entrepreneurial venture in which she helps small business owners make their dreams a success. Though impressive, Nicole doesn’t count her job as the most important thing in her world.

Facebook / Monetize Thyself

First and foremost, Nicole cares about her family. She and her husband, who live in Maryland, adopted three children a couple years earlier, and they immediately became her greatest joy. Of course, parenting is never without its difficulties.

That spring, her eldest child — whom Nicole affectionately nicknamed “BigTiny” — graduated high school. With adulthood looming, this super-mom did everything in her power to get her kid college-ready.

Once BigTiny went off to school, Nicole fretted that her daughter would feel overwhelmed. After all, she remembered how stressful the university environment can be. So Nicole wanted to be there for her child — except she wasn’t able to be!

At one point, over the course of three days, Nicole sent a bunch of texts that went unanswered. Her husband then called BigTiny twice, but with no reply. In typical parent fashion, they began to worry that something terrible had transpired.

But then BigTiny finally got back to her family. Their phones lit up at 2 am after her first day of classes. “Oh no, sorry, I was just out late,” she wrote. Neither Nicole nor her husband could believe the inadequate response!

For one thing, Nicole needed an explanation of why her child went off the grid for 72 hours. She surmised that it couldn’t have been for a good reason, as the library wasn’t open 24 hours a day. Something was keeping BigTiny up so late!

Magdalene College

Nicole feared that in her first week of college, her daughter was already blowing off her responsibilities so she could have a good time. Unacceptable — the Walters paid her tuition so she could earn her degree, not so she could socialize!


Ultimately, Nicole saw that she had to stand her ground. Just because BigTiny wasn’t physically under her roof anymore didn’t mean that she was free to disregard all of Nicole’s motherly advice. But what was the best way to get this across?

One slightly crazy idea popped into Nicole’s head. Gathering her keys and her husband, she climbed into her car. Maybe BigTiny didn’t like answering her phone, but she wouldn’t be able to ignore her parents if they surprised her in-person!

As they sped off toward their daughter’s college, Nicole realized her plan might be going a bit overboard. On the other hand, it was only natural. In all walks of life, moms go to extremes if it’s in the best interest of their kids — a mom protects her pups!

Flickr / rami bou alwan

As soon as she set foot on campus, Nicole started filming herself and laid out her genius plan. She would walk around with a flyer urging students to tweet her any photos of BigTiny acting irresponsibly. It also came with a hefty reward.

Nicole offered any cooperating students a $10 Starbucks gift card and a free pizza. She knew this was an effective threat because college kids would do anything for some pizza. And that wasn’t the end of her offer either.

If her daughter ever ghosted her parents again, Nicole vowed that she would make 500 copies of her flyer and distribute them all over campus. “When your mommy’s an entrepreneur, I don’t have anything else to do,” she explained.

Within a few minutes, Nicole’s daughter arrived, though she remained off-camera. She apologized for her non-responsiveness, but also couldn’t help but laugh at her mom’s hilarious poster. Then Nicole shoved a ton of bananas in her child’s face, saying she needed the potassium.

All in all, the Walters clan enjoyed the humor behind the surprise visit, but it didn’t completely make up for their daughter’s actions over the past three days. Her parents weren’t leaving without an explanation.

Facebook / Monetize Thyself

She confessed that she hadn’t, in fact, placed herself in any mortal danger that weekend. Most of the time, she just binged Netflix with her new classmates in their dorm. Still, Nicole demanded change in BigTiny’s behavior.

And Nicole got that change. Realizing communication was more important than ever in their relationship, BigTiny made sure to FaceTime with her mom once a week. She also kept her family updated on her studies, which she was taking quite seriously.

Facebook / Monetize Thyself

Perhaps she’d made herself into a bit of a spectacle, but Nicole was proud that she got through to her stubborn daughter. In addition, she wasn’t the only one pleased with the outcome. Her video of the event went viral, gaining over 7 million views!

The resulting attention made Nicole’s daughter into a campus celebrity. BigTiny not only made lots of friends from the video, but also had people looking out for her well-being during a vulnerable time. When it comes to creative parenting, Nicole has her family covered!

Facebook / MonetizeThyself

For the vast majority of parents, nothing is more important than the safety of their children. And you can bet that when their kids are in danger, most moms would do anything to ensure they’re okay.

Semantha and Paul Bunce were a happily married couple from North Carolina who had two small children. They may have been young, but they were committed to each other and their growing family.

Paul Bunce / Facebook

Though she was only 21, Semantha had accomplished quite a bit. She also served as a combat medic for the National Guard as part of Raeford, North Carolina’s HHC 105th Engineer Battalion.

As prepared as she was, Semantha could have never expected what would happen to her one seemingly ordinary day in November 2015, while she was spending time at home with her four-month old son, Bentley.

The young mother was alone at home with her infant son while Paul worked and their daughter was at school. Little did Semantha know that an afternoon that had begun like any other would quickly turn into a crisis.

The Bunce Family / GoFundMe

Semantha had been breastfeeding Bentley when, suddenly, she heard a noise. Before she could react, burglars—who were armed with guns—forcefully knocked down her front door.

That would be enough to make just about anyone freeze with fear. Yet in that moment, Semantha’s maternal instincts—and Army training—kicked in, and she did something the intruders couldn’t have expected…

The Bunce Family / gofundme

Semantha first needed to get out of harm’s way—and fast. With Bentley in her arms, she bolted upstairs to her bedroom. It was a good first move, but she knew that hiding could only protect them for so long…

Desperate times called for desperate measures. Once in the bedroom, Semantha retrieved Paul’s gun. While she was lucky to have some sort of protection—plus the appropriate military training—no mother would ever want to be in this position.

trezaei / YouTube

Unfortunately, the intruders were not deterred—and they started shooting at Semantha and Bentley from the stairwell. Semantha was left with no choice. That’s when she fired back from the bedroom door.

Al Stevens / Wikimedia Commons

Thankfully, the violent, terrifying shootout was cut mercifully short when the mother’s returning fire apparently scared off the intruders, leading them to ultimately run away from the house.

Unfortunately, while Bentley was fine, Semantha didn’t escape unscathed. Not only did her home suffer serious damage, but she was severely wounded—she’d gotten shot not once, but twice.

Thankfully, Semantha’s injuries weren’t life-threatening—though she still had to go into recovery. Moreover, besides the physical and emotional pain, the medical bills put an enormous financial burden on the family.

Paul Bunce / Facebook

Fortunately, Semantha’s comrades wasn’t going to let her down. Hollie Ritchie, a friend of her—and a fellow soldier in the HHC 105th Engineer Battalion—set up a GoFundMe page to help the Bunces pay their growing medical bills and for damage to the house.

Though the goal was only $15,000, the campaign ultimately raised more than $66,000 from people all over the United States—some of them complete strangers—who wanted to help this heroic mother and her family.

The Bunce Family / GoFundMe

Countless folks, especially those who knew her, were impressed by Semantha’s fighting spirit. “To know that I know somebody that is that strong-willed and that much of a fighter is unbelievable,” Hollie wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Semantha Hunter-Bunce / Facebook

Soon after the incident, news outlets all over the United States were asking an emotional Semantha to share her story. They couldn’t believe that a vulnerable mother would be able to ward off burglars the way she did. Still, it didn’t come as much of a surprise to the friends and family closest to her…

Fox46 Charlotte

“She is an amazing person, mother, wife, friend and soldier,” Hollie continued on the GoFundMe page. “Would do anything for anyone and would quite literally give you the shirt off of her back if you needed it.”

Fox46 Charlotte

This story had another happy ending, too, as justice was served. One of the intruders, 23-year-old Reco Latur Dawkins Jr., turned himself in to the authorities. He faced breaking and entering charges, as well as attempted murder.

Perhaps most importantly, though, was that baby Bentley didn’t even get a scratch. He’d be able to enjoy his childhood and have a long and happy life ahead of him… and he’ll have his brave, quick-thinking mother to thank for it.

Semantha certainly had no way of knowing that something so traumatic would happen to her on such an ordinary day, but it was a relief that she knew just what to do to defend herself—and protect her child.

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