I wasn’t always the type of mom who took the time to braid her daughters hair, or read her books at bedtime, or paint her fingernails 5 different colors. I wasn’t always the type of mom who let her daughter crawl into bed with her after she’d had a nightmare. I wasn’t always prepared with a bandaid in my purse, or a snack for the car or tissue for her nose.
For a long time, my disease turned me into a visitor in my daughters life. I was always pre-occupied with alcohol, and everyone else around me had to jump in to play mom while I slowly deteriorated.
I remember those days so vividly, and it’s heartbreaking. I often think about the time lost. The times when I held my baby in the middle of the night and was emotionless – when I didn’t appreciate the warmth of her skin against my chest. How I wish I could go back to those days and look into my daughters eyes, take in that new baby smell and hold her little fingers as I rocked her back to sleep – to just be present in that moment.
I could literally torture myself with the pain of my past if I allowed myself to go there every day, but from time to time I find it necessary to remind myself how lost I once was. Not to punish myself, I try not to do that anymore, but to remind myself how far I have come since those most painful days. Some days it is very easy to forget, and when I start to forget I start to re-write history.
“It wasn’t so bad.”
“It could have been worse.”
“It was just alcohol.”
Those thoughts are dangerous for a woman like me. They are the difference between life and death. They are my disease – a malevolent reminder that I am not, nor will I ever be, cured.
Let me tell you about the mom I am today:
I am the mom who barely recognizes that woman from years ago, yet I have compassion for her instead of hatred. I am the mom who reads to her daughter at night, changing the sound of her voice with each character. I am the mom who french braids her daughter’s hair for school concerts, teaches her how to put together matching outfits and listens intently to her daughters fears and insecurities.
I am there for her when she wakes up in the morning, when she goes to bed at night, and every moment in between. I am prepared when she skins her knee, has a fever or when she simply needs a hug from her mom. I am present when she shares her school work, teaches me a new game or wants to sing me a song.
I’ve taken her to Disney world, water parks and festivals. We’ve seen Taylor Swift in concert. We’ve seen Wicked. We’ve been to Green Bay Packer games and Milwaukee Brewers games. We’ve gone hiking and discovered new trails and waterfalls we didn’t even know existed so close to home.
I am the mom who volunteers to coach her daughters soccer team, joined the PTA, makes lunches for school, chaperones field trips and plants vegetables with her in the garden.
I am the mom who puts recovery first, so that my daughter never has to say goodbye to me again. I sometimes have to choose recovery and service work over movie nights and kisses before bed so that I can stay healthy enough to never let my daughter see that distant version of her mother again.
I am a mom who made mistakes and feels regret and sadness. But more important than that…I am the mom who had the courage to change when she didn’t really believe she could, the courage to share her story in hopes that others don’t make the same mistakes she did and the courage to get back up and fight when all she wanted to do was die.
I wasn’t always this Mom, but I am today.
It is work, but it is worth it. For every tear I have cried, I have gained another 24 hours to build more memories. Those memories will someday replace the bad x1,000! All I have to do is stay the course!
So I do! I just stay. ❤️