Let me tell you something

On the way back from church, we listened to the devil’s music on spotify. Anytime I feel guilty about spending $9.99 a month for premium, I remember how much premium beer I would swill in just one night. By the devil’s music, I mean Halloween playlists. My girls and I are big fans of such classics as Nightmare on My Street and the theme from Ghostbusters. I imagine the devil is probably more into zydeco or Mannheim Steamroller.

My older daughter and I couldn’t wait for Ray Parker Jr. to belt out Bustin’ makes me feel good because it had been a year since we’d heard it last. I was explaining how my second favorite part is when Parker whispers let me tell you something so quiet you could almost miss it, when from the backseat my youngest said “I don’t get why mustard makes him feel good.”

Can I just tell you how much I love kids? I don’t just mean my own, though they’re super swell and I am not at all partial. When I decided to start taking mine to church, I envisioned listening to moving sermons on loving thy neighbor and lip synching hymns because I’m no Ray Parker Jr, while my kids had their own experience downstairs. What happened instead is I volunteered to co-lead my older daughter’s Sunday school class and I’m enjoying this immensely.

My prior group experience dates back to 1995, when this guy Tony and I sat around a circle of folding chairs with “at risk” teens from a Lutheran school down the road from my grandparent’s house. What I mostly remember is this kid, Christopher, talking about building a potato gun to shoot seagulls. I suspect his stories weren’t entirely true since we were hours from the sea, but I myself felt unmoored, adrift. I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing, saying, and I left each week feeling like I let everyone down.

My undergraduate degree was in psychology, though I work in insurance now. How did I wind up here? An old boss said once that he fell sideways into insurance, and I pictured myself doing the same, like a directed freefall. I unconsciously moved away from listening to and helping people, especially young people. Yet here I am in Sunday school, and it feels exactly like where I need to be. These kids, they have so much to say and they are bright and thoughtful and articulate and they have great passion for life and snacks. I feel a deep affection for them.

This brings me to parenting, which is harder to write about without digging into the ugly past when I know I was not the best mom. When I drank, my mind and energy became progressively redirected and preoccupied so that parenting felt tedious, like a distraction. I never was good at multitasking.

I still feel deep regret for this slapdash attention towards my own girls, but mostly I feel grateful I don’t feel it anymore. Over time in sobriety – and this didn’t happen all at once or even in the first year or two for me – I found more patience and genuine interest in listening rather than directing. I learned, I guess, not to make parenting all about me.

After church yesterday, my husband took the kids outside to make our front yard look like a graveyard. It’s a family tradition to dangle plastic skeletons from trees so that we have small heart attacks every time we walk past a front window.

While they hauled out boxes to decorate, I changed in running clothes. I’m training for a 10K next month, and my husband was sort of complainy about me not helping string up demons. I said “I’ll only be gone an hour. You’re getting off easy.” He said “did you ever think you’re the one who’s got it easy?” Touchรฉ.

I am super lucky. I have two healthy kids, a husband who loves me, two sweet cats who don’t sit on laps yet but maybe they’ll come around when it gets cold again. We share a cozy old home and not everything works right and we don’t have much money to fix the things that don’t, but there’s food in the pantry and the roof doesn’t leak and ghouls dangle from trees out front. Life is simple and good, and in moments like this and many others, I feel deeply grateful for all that changed since I got sober. On the surface, life looks remarkably the same as it did before, but the way it feels is wholly, entirely richer.

Trail I noticed while running that I want to take the family to sometime. See, running isn't selfish.
Trail I noticed while running that I want to take the family to sometime. See, running isn’t selfish.

24 thoughts on “Let me tell you something

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  1. I love everything about your journey, sweet girl. Thanks for sharing what’s going on in your mind and heart. Being present and looking forward is really where it’s at. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. I too justify things based on the Beer Scale. Love it.
    Whether it’s drinking or, in my case now, writing, there’s always something pulling you away as a parent, unless you’re totally selfless and committed and my god who is that person? The idea of “selflessness” is giving up self. I don’t think that’s reasonable. You need to run, and hopefully you’re surrounded by people who will support you. As with all things, all about balance, right?
    Thanks for this.


    1. Total selflessness sounds pretty unhealthy, unhappy and, yeah, unrealistic. The more time intensive hobbies seem to cause the most strain and reward. It’s a balancing act all right.


  3. Hopped on WordPress (an event which is happening less and less lately, I need to rekindle the WP fires!) to write my traditional meeting wrap-up post, but I had to detour to read my all-time favorite blogger (a distinction that, along with a couple of dollars, will get you a cup of coffee, not a latte, but at least a coffee).

    Love this post, love this glimpse into a day in the life of Kristen, love that you are training for a 10K (which I guess makes our measly 5K’s feel like small potatoes). Two stand out parts of the post for me:

    1. “I learned, I guess, not to make parenting all about me.” Really could have used this insight this past weekend. I hurt my daughter’s feelings, and the first 5 minutes of the follow-up conversation were spent making sure she forgave me. Hmmm, methinks I have some more learning to do on this front…

    2. “On the surface, life looks remarkably the same as it did before, but the way it feels is wholly, entirely richer.” I could not have said this better myself. One of the mini-God-moments I intend to write about from this morning’s meeting centers around this exact sentiment!

    Reading your blog is like eating my favorite desset… indulgent, satisfying from start to finish, and leaves a wonderful aftertaste ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. I feel the same way about your blog, Josie. We are rich in friendship , if not lattes. As for parenting and apologies, intent feels more important than technique. We’re not perfect and I believe (hope) it’s better for them to see that and know we care. Plus, you know, teenagers. It feels like war sometimes, and your talk sounds like a victory.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you both got what you needed!
    I love your thought…parenting isn’t all about me!
    Some days I worry that I messed things up for my kids while I was drinking. But I can only focus on now and my now seems a lot like yours. It looks the same, but it feels so different. Every moment is a miracle and a blessing, not a chore.

    That is a gift.


    1. I thought that too. My oldest never remembers what I thought she would. They have their own memories and interpretations, and you’re right, we can’t do anything about those now. We can listen and be there for them now. So many seemingly small but happy moments come out of this. It just keeps getting better.


  5. I wonder whatever happened to Ray Parker Jr.? Wouldn’t it be a trip if he were somewhere out there reading blogs and saw yours? Or maybe he’s got a google alert set up for his name to alert him when he gets talked about. I hope he’s walking around with extra swagger today. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Spotify costs less per month than one album. Why buy the album when you can listen to ALL THE SONGS? Oops sorry Ray if you’re reading. I would buy your album. In fact, I’m pretty sure I did.

    Running makes a happy momma. If momma ain’t happy…well you know.

    Loved the post. ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. Great post BB- as per usual.
    As a now,grown-up parent, one thing that has been made clear to me is that to hold regrets is to spoil the precious time we have on this earth. Especially where it involves children.
    My son showed me how to ‘move on’ and always look forward. He did this by just being a kid and accepting me as his dad.
    Love the way you describe your own love for children. They are beautiful and are soon grown.
    So glad to have your posts to read Kristen.B


  7. Great post, Kristen. Funny reading this after reading Maggie’s on parenting as well. Today’s theme? Maybe I am meant to read these ๐Ÿ™‚

    Everything screams gratitude here, and I can relate. We are going paycheck to paycheck, and things are hopefully starting to open up financially, but we too have the things we need, maybe not so many that we want, but we’re okay.

    And who said running is selfish? I haven’t heard that one. But certainly we need to take some time to do it. No different than someone going to a book club, or taking a night class or something like that. Self care! If it weren’t for running, I wouldn’t have much else! And as for trails – do it! I ran trails for the first time ever just the other day and it was AWESOME. i don’t want to run on pavement ever again. No speedy times, but lots of fun. Even took my headphones off and just took it all in with all senses. You’ll enjoy it.

    And spotify? Are you kidding me – how come it took me until a few weeks ago to find out about it?? We just got it in Canada, so i am glad I didn’t know about it before, actually. I think I am going to go premium too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great post!



  8. Firstly … here’s a little trick… I don’t pay premium to Spotify. They removed the limit on numbers of plays and whilst a few tracks are not available normally that is only a few and normally they are released soon after the CD/download has peaked in the charts. Adverts you say… ahem… if you install adblocker in your browser and use play.spotify rather than the app… guess what…. yep no ads ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ Win!

    You guys go so wild over Halloween, it is such a low key thing in the UK. When I was a kid it was much more about bonfire night (5th Nov). Never sure if we are celebrating that Guy Fawkes and his other Catholic cronies didn’t manage to blow the king up or that they tried? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    When I was a kid it was all about making a “guy” – an effergy of a catholic that we then burnt on top of a bonfire. Hey – it’s all family entertainment. Then Dad used to set something alight with the firework display. We had them at our house when the kids were little until I nearly did set the whole fence and me alight one time. After that we just go to the huge free one the army/council put on near us every year.


  9. This is great~ I am grateful too for your sober journey b/c w/o you I probably would not be on my own sober journey~ we are both lucky b/c many don’t break the chains from the booze that had a tight grip on us!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. enjoyed your sharing – and the mention of church and the story of the spit balls at the gulls – well it reminded me of when the pastor (who was lady who yelled when she preached) well she had a serious talk with my mother because this old guy – Brother Fisher – said my bother’s were shooting spit balls at the back of his head and he was going to leave the church if it did not stop. and so sometimes I still laugh to think of thatโ€ฆ
    and you had me with the songs – because I thought you were going to say Van Halen’s “running with the devil” or BOC’s Burning for youโ€ฆ you know “giving the devil his duesโ€ฆ” ha! which I change the words and sing “giving my lord -” or just turn it down – anyhow, enjoyed your post and was there in the car with ya and was there at the end with that cool shot from the run.
    have a nice week – and peace


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