Don’t Remember That Either, Honey.

going-on-a-guilt-tripI scroll through my Twitter feed and I cannot even tell you how much I love seeing families reunited, mother’s and father’s regaining visitation or custody rights, or parents reconnecting and celebrating with their children after a period of being estranged.

It is such a joyful thing to see. That is huge people! Huge!
Nothing feels quite as good as setting a good example for your children.

Many times when a pat on the back or congratulations are due in these situations, the compliments are brushed off. Guilt and shame won’t allow these incredible survivors to accept the words and simply enjoy the new things that are happening as they happen, for what they are.

My oldest is almost 13 now.
Out of my three boys, he is the only one who remembers me as ‘old’ mommy.

Obviously I had already known that I had missed a large chunk (3 years)
of kid #1’s life.

Admittedly so.

I had accepted that years ago. By the time he started Kindergarten, I was in Recovery.
I thanked God that I had started getting my shi* together in time for him to start school.

It wasn’t really until we had our second son that I had to face some crappy truths, face to face with my oldest child.

I have always confronted issues like sex, drug use or abuse, or bullying head on with him.
In our home it is no holds barred, we talk it out like champs. It is just our way. I really don’t want any of our boys to be afraid to come to us about any ’embarrassing’ or controversial issue. Us first, before friends is how I prefer it to be. Think for yourself, but ask questions and educate your growing and impressionable brain. I give them the truth or facts that support whatever he may be inquiring about.

But when it comes to my oldest and him asking questions like:

Don’t you remember my gold-fish?
(Wait a second…there was a gold-fish?)
Did I come into your room too when there was a thunderstorm?
(I wouldn’t know I was probably on the bathroom floor..)
Did I potty train easily too mom?
(I don’t know. I basically left you with your aunt that year.)
What was I for my second Halloween, did I like trick-or-treating?
(I don’t remember. I got you dressed, took you to grandma’s and went to a party.)
Did I like my cake on my first birthday?
(I was probably outside smoking something during that particular portion of the party, because I cannot recall a cake being present.)

I clam up. I feel physically ill sometimes. I white lie the crap out of these types of questions. Judge me if you want, but I don’t think he is quite ready to distinguish my fault vs. his. (and none of it was his).

The truth is, I don’t recall any of it and I am not emotionally connected to any of it.
I can recall bits and pieces of it because of the photos that I have, but really- not like I would now.
I get years mixed and jumbled, or remember some of those times but still couldn’t piece together the when of any of it.

Currently I have been sober 8.2 of his 12.9 years on the planet.

Yes I have moments that my mom-guilt could consume me and swallow me whole, but I quickly shake that off.  I have to.

Here’s what I quickly remind myself of when my mom-guilt tries to creep in: 

*God wiped my slate clean and allowed me a second chance at this life living thing.
I cannot squander it all away wallowing in my own guilt and shame. That is selfish.
I can only hope that one day son #1 will be able to recognize the sincerity in my eyes and in my voice when I tell him the truth. Not the watered truth.

*We can’t change the past, we can only build the future. Each day that we focus on is one more day further away from those days that make me feel so guilty. Each new memory is one more stacked on top of the old ones. Pushing out the old, adding in the new.

*I can only pray that he see’s how hard I have worked to give him a balanced, healthy, happy, fun, memorable childhood- focused on God and loving him to smithereens. I hope that he can see that I apologize to him every time I mess up, and that I have worked hard alongside daddy to help to guide him into an honest, Jesus loving, confident young man that he has become.

*Lastly, as an adult child of an addict I can tell you this.
My child has almost 9 years with me out of his 12.
I am 31 and have yet to meet my mother sober. I know with certainty that ANY clean time is better than NO clean time.

To me, this is just a classic case of when you know better- do better.

We can only learn for ourselves and do better than what we were taught, what we once knew as truth, and what our own parents were able to do with what they knew at the time.

My parents did the best that they could with what they knew at the time and what they had.

Using this logic, I would have to say that I am doing my very best to break the cycle.

I will choose not to give my addiction power over an area of my life. I am not willing to share any longer, ever again, for any amount of time.
We can all choose how we respond to guilt.

So if you are a parent in Recovery- don’t beat yourself up for the time lost. 
Focus on today and start right where you are right now.
It is NEVER too late to mend your relationship with your child (ren) . 
Never. 

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