Ah. The quote above. That’s exactly what I had to say to myself sometimes – and I still do. I have clearly faltered. I have made mistakes. When it comes to being a mother of three – and getting through this battle – courage is one way to describe it – the other – is to say I will keep trying – tomorrow. And the next day – and the next.
I often wondered after I revealed my struggles publicly – what people would begin to think of me as a parent. I was having a tough enough time coping as it was with chronic pain – cleaning, walking, simple things – like, say, lifting my tiny baby boy – my numero tres – now approaching 10 months old.
It is no secret that my two oldest (ages 6 and 4) live with their father upstate. They are two and a half hours away – so they are not in my house but every two weeks. This in itself feels like a failure. It has been this way since we separated in December 2010 – and my current battle was not even a glimmer in my eyes. It almost makes me feel worse that they are not with me around the clock – because clearly issues (ghosts) of the past took away my opportunity (for the moment) to parent them full time.
Flash forward to now – and this struggle – after the birth of my third who is with me around the clock – I know people wonder: how do you remain a good parent – if you feel you are not 100% a good person?
Who said I was not a good person?
I have to keep repeating this line in my head – because I believe it is my own brain that convinced me of that when I realized exactly the hill I was climbing – the grave I had tumbled into – let us not forget that becoming self-aware in itself is a huge milestone.
It has taken persistence, dedication, and above all: SUPPORT.
I was not afraid nor ashamed to ask for help from family members and friends – and especially my husband – for help with my children. This was an absolute must. If I am unable – I find someone who is able. I have always been that way – I am brutally honest to the bone. I think this journey as it began was the first time I ever considered hiding. Who wants to admit in public to hundreds, thousands, and then there’s family, friends: I had a problem. A huge debacle with dependence – that needed to be fixed – and I could not do it alone.
For the record, I consider myself an amazing mother. I feel my recent efforts to better myself and my body – my health, my mind – are clear signals that my love of my children takes precedence. This continued path towards full recovery comes at the price of admitting that I cannot do everything by myself – especially parenting.
Parenting is – and forgive my bluntness – not always fun. I get vomited on, peed on, snotted on, yelled at, kicked, smacked, “I HATE YOU FOR TAKING AWAY MY CHOCOLATE”….
These little innocent beings grew in my belly – they came out with those beautiful cries of life that changed me in so many ways. Who knew there could be so many moments where I would bow my head and want to cry – why do my children seem to not be able to stand me some of the time?
Oh – I slapped myself just then writing that. I know how much my children love and adore me – and how much love, passion, patience, dedication I give to them – and this current experience is what I feel certainly defines what true motherly love really stands for.
It’s the courage to become better – to admit imperfection.
If anyone so apt to read my blogs is a parent – you know where I am coming from. This is not an easy task. I remember those days of sleep, watching a football game uninterrupted (“I NEED A JUICE BOX NOW” “NO I WANTED CARTOONS!!” ) – I can break down over the easiest of things – “No you cannot have a juice box. Grab a water, and go read a book.”
It really seems so simple.
Then we add in that for 8 long months I could barely walk – let alone had the motivation to get out of bed – could barely stand in the shower for more than a day a week, did not even feel like brushing my teeth, washing a dish, cooking a meal.
And then we remember the events of Christmas week 2013.
How exactly did I parent while battling a substance dependence and withdrawals and my own mental demons – suffice it to say I had to learn another skill and it’s clearly a double-edged sword:
I asked for a rally around me for help with my children – other people’s time, especially my husband’s time. My husband, for anyone who does not know, works two jobs from home to support our family – and he works from home because I am seemingly incapable of going an entire day with a 10 month old (then add the other two on their visits) without help from another adult body.
“How are you not ashamed of yourself?”
What is there to be ashamed of in asking for help? Thus the point of my blog in its entirety – and the punchline here of this particular ranting.
I am a wonderful parent because I am so passionate about becoming healthy for my children – and because they are inspirations to me – their little bodies full of so much hope, imagination, and future.
I dig deep. Tonight I was not feeling great at all – tired, anxious, still having to run to the bathroom at times (could be up to a month for this, hey, at least it’s not as painful as before) – had some racing thoughts – then got my little baby boy up to find he had a 103 degree fever, could not drink or hold down milk, and was screaming in pain.
Off to urgent care we went – where we found this cute little boy with so much pizzazz – has strep throat. Instead of thinking about me, I held that child so close, and I almost wanted to cry with him – but I held strong.
It takes strength to let go of just wanting to take care of yourself – this path will never be easy for anybody – single, married, alone, pregnant, mother, father, sister, brother – you name it. In 2010, the number of prescription drug abusers in the United States was quoted at 8.76 million by The National Institute on Drug Abuse.
It can happen to anybody – and it happened to me – and I happen to be a parent.
I find myself on some days still questioning my abilities as a mother – but who would not?
I’m sure others read my posts and see my plight and go “sheesh, her poor children.”
Don’t you worry. My children – they are beautiful little beings with bright futures – and their mommy will be there every step of the way – because I am putting myself in the forefront BEATING THIS – making this IN THE PAST – and bringing that bright future for them – into my own future – because I strive every day to be a better parent.
I would have strived every day to be better – even if I was not going through this uphill battle towards freedom.
I know someday my children may ask me – it could come up in a conversation, I do not ever plan on hiding it from them – if we’re in 2014 and we have Google – I can’t imagine 20 years from now what Google will really be able to do (will it be able to tell you if I’m in the shower if you Google my name and ask “what are her current actions?”)
That leads me to this: I am always going to be an honest and open mother to my children. I am always going to love them with every bit of me – and I am always going to try harder the next day than I did the day before – to be better, no matter my health conditions, current needs, medical problems, mental issues … blah … blah… blah…
I am a mother. I parented through dependence – and I parented through withdrawal – and I will parent through recovery – and during that time I will continue to learn how to improve whatever skills may be lacking (let’s get real: no one is the perfect parent – if you think you are, go ahead and take the gold medal – because I do not believe that exists).
As a mother my biggest goal is to never fail my children.
Do I feel I failed them by falling into this trap?
Absolutely not – because I vowed to beat it. And in beating it – I find that courage for the next day, where new goals, new things to learn, new games to play, and new lost toys to find become apparent – and I live for those moments.
I live for the little smiles that after they get their bottle, juice box, or piece of chocolate (or if I switch from football to cartoons, just for them) – look to me and say “I love you, Mommy.”
And I love them too – I always did, I always will – and nothing could have ever taken my will away from me to continue to be the best.
Mommies have problems too – mine happened to be a huge one – but one that I could overcome and use it in the future as inspiration to forward my children off into this world knowing that they are loved, supported, taken care of – no matter what.
Really. They are. They have been.
That’s a mother’s love – and nothing can take that way.