12.16.18 | Day 831
Reflections + Gratitude
“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
— William Martin
As beautiful as this gift is, it’s still super painful and will probably always stay that way.
Unlearning nearly 7 years of self-pity and nightly (binge) drinking lays on the maternal remorse very thick. Knowing that even though I did my best, I didn’t give her the mother she deserved. I began to rely heavily on my own version of “mother’s little helper” in the evenings; never not justifying my consumption, if only to myself. I say self-pity because once upon a time, I didn’t want kids, and I didn’t want to let the fact I had a kid halt me from behaving like a child myself, right along w/ her.
Despite finding myself pregnant at age 22, then, in 2008, where I gave birth to her shortly after turning 23 years old, Ramona is/was the best surprise, and I still view her as my guardian angel.
In the beginning/for the first couple of years of her life, my drinking wasn’t driven by selfish intentions & though my drinking slowly increased, it wasn’t wholly problematic, per se. If she spent the night away, however, I’d drink hastily and recklessly, never stopping to think, “What if something happens and she needs to come home?” and silently justified my drinking because being a full-time working mom was “hard” and I deserved to have my nights of (careless) hedonism.
TL;DR: Needless to say, over time, the nightly drinking progressed, I got more sloppy, and though my daughter maintains to this day, “I am the BEST mommy in the entire universe,” the pit of guilt and heavy shame still resides deeply within me.
Contrary to popular (culture) belief, drinking does not a successful motherhood make. It doesn’t make you more fun or raising a kid more “tolerable” & it sure as fuck is not “necessary”; it robs you and your innocent child of mutually precious moments you’ll NEVER get back. Maybe you’ll be responsibly present for school or recreational activities – I was an active PTA member and Girl Scout mom who attended all gymnastics lessons and class parties, etc. – but it’s the smaller, more intimate (missed) moments of shared or observed innocence that haunt me.
I constantly feel guilty that my 3-year-old son, Jack, gets to have and experience these early years in a way I (feel like I) failed Ramona, and now that’s she’s quickly approaching her preteen years, I’ve missed out in ways I can’t exactly describe.
We’re in the process of having Ramona screened for various disorders (ADD & ODD, specifically) and though I’m almost positive I know the results (and am hopefully anxious to find solutions to redirect her + help her truly thrive), there’s an involuntary “chicken or the egg” mentality that occupies my mind. I know that disorders have an infinite amount of variables/contributive influencing factors (due to internal + external occurrences), but I keep feeling like some of her disruptive… cries for attention, is a good/delicate way to put it… are because I let her down by not being more present earlier on.
Over the past 830 days I’ve unlearned so many ways of parenting, and rethink how I approach + handle situations with diligent resilience. All while trying to constantly chase, raise + teach my tiniest tornado, found in one small, rambunctious 3-year-old, in addition to everything else our hashtag blessed cups (lives) already runneth over with.
I realize most of my retrospective perceptions are probably more harsh than they need to be, but I use them as motivation to be hyper vigilant about how I parent *now.* It’s also why I have a die-hard vendetta against normalized mommy drinking culture, and am an active participant in the efforts to eradicate it and/or promote awareness and education.
Sobriety has gifted me the ability to be the kind of mom I know my kids deserve, and they are the greatest teachers in the entire universe. Most days, I’m not sure who’s luckier, and it’s something I take great pride in.