Happy Valentimes

Last night I woke up around midnight to give the baby a kiss on her fat cheek because she was stirring from a bad dream. She’s not really a baby, but she still has fat cheeks like a baby and when I lean in to kiss them and tuck her spider-man blanket in just so, her hair smells sweet like a baby’s. These small comforts settled her down so that I was able to sink back into the delicious comfort of my own bed and realize what a gift sobriety has been to me as a mother.

It’s not that I was terrible mom before, any more than I am a perfect mom now. I still feel the urge to hurl myself out of a moving car over incessant snack-related whining. I still love bedtime (theirs) as much as I did when I was drinking, though I like to think I use it more wisely now (reading books/crap tv) than before (reading twitter/crap tv). Last night when I went to my older daughter’s parent-teacher conference, I did not have to chew gum to hide the fact that I’d had pre-conference drinks. The changes are subtle until they bubble up in unexpected ways that show just how much spirits were really a spirit blocker for me.

I’m not trying to shortchange the real work behind recovery, though what that looks like varies by person anyway. I’m just saying that I stopped drinking and many months later realize I’m a better parent and person than I knew I could be. This realization is like the best Valentines’ present ever, even better than the set of pots and pans my husband and I agreed would be our gift to each other this year. I dragged my youngest to Macy’s on a Sunday afternoon and stared at pots and pans for so long she laid on the floor until I asked her to move so people wouldn’t step on her or think she was dead. Like I said, I’m no perfect parent. But in the quiet moments when I am fully present to them because I can be now, well, the rewards are overpowering and awesome.

love

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14 thoughts on “Happy Valentimes

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  1. Beautiful! I loved this (and the gorilla pic too, by the way 🙂 ). I relate so much about feeling that I am a better parent and person after getting sober and actively working on my recovery. The thing I lost out on a lot of as a drunk parent were the little moments with my boy. The could have’s, the should have’s…I was passed out somewhere in the house when I should have been playing with my son. I dragged him around to liquor stores, I snuck off while he napped to buy bottles, my drinking took precedence over any developmental thing in his life. I just wasn’t present. And now I know that I am there, no matter what – big or small. The greatest gift we give our children is a clear, present and grateful mom or dad. We empathize, we connect, we try to love ourselves as much as we love our kids. And they sense that we are there. You mention those overpowering and awesome rewards…well, those are them for me. I get to be there at all times for them (even when they do drive me a bit batty – I loved the image of hurling yourself out of the car!).

    We get sober for ourselves first and foremost, but our family also reaps the rewards. There are many chances now to kiss fat cheeks, and there are many chances where I can just look at my son and just enjoy his “him-ness”.

    Lovely post….really enjoyed it 🙂

    Paul

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  2. Beautiful! And I know what you mean when you realize all things considered I wasn’t THAT bad before but knowing what being truly present for these little lifes is like I realize I am oh so much better now even onmy worst days. How is that for the longest run-on sentence ever? Typing with one finger on my iPad mini leaves no time for silly things like punctuation or spellcheck.

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  3. I think whoever invented chewing gum and breath mints was an alcoholic. He thought he nailed it but the proof is that neither are effective against a quick 3-4 beers. Perfect example of the way a drunk does everything half way. He will think about the thing 47 different ways from Sunday but when it comes time to execute… well, we’ll do it better next time won’t we. I was/am embarrassed to realize my 22 year old only son was part of the crowd of witnesses who knew about my “well hidden” problem for a long time. You think that has had an affect on him? You want to bring me to my knees start asking about how I could have been a better father and husband without alcohol. I promise you those kids watch every thing we do. My son is the reason I finally quit. He just kept asking until I finally saw me for what I was. Denial and delusion can be very strong enemies. Love is stronger.

    That same son is in the hospital and having a rough go of it. I cannot remember a more difficult week. But we’re still breathing and I’m still sober. Week 20 can kiss my ass and week 21 can line up for their’s too. Going the distance. Thanks for writing. It means something.

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  4. “I’m just saying that I stopped drinking and many months later realize I’m a better parent and person than I knew I could be. This realization is like the best Valentines’ present ever…”

    This is beautiful. I am so happy for you, so happy you found this in your life to reward you in these sweet, quiet, yet profound ways. The part about you kissing your little one really touched me a lot — those moments are so wonderful, and over so fast. I am glad you can more deeply enjoy them now with the clarity that sobriety brings.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, BBB!
    xx
    Celeste

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  5. You are always (well at least it seems like always) in gratitude. For starters, nothing beats new pots and pans if you want to energize your cooking creativity and none of us is the perfect parent. Your little ones are so fortunate to have you for their mom. You gave them an incredible gift … you!

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  6. Happy Valentine’s Day! Thanks for this; i need the attitude adjustment. Lately i’ve been focusing on all that i did wrong in the past instead of all i’m doing better now. Important difference.

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  7. Yes! I have been realizing the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the mom I am. Not perfect, but present. Able to take deep breaths and be patient when I want to lock myself in the closet and not come out until morning. The parent teacher conference thing reminds me of how I used to schedule mine as late as possible so I could get it together enough to not look hungover. Jeez.

    Lovely. Thanks for this post. 🙂

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