Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, family, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, motherhood, parenting, recovery, twelve step

Just…wow.

just wow
courtesy of lisalayden.com. 

Have you ever had one of those strange moments where your perspective shifts, and you suddenly…I don’t know…like, see your life? All of the sudden, your own reality hits you and it’s just mind blowing? And not in a bad way at all, but in the most incredible, blessed feeling way? Gosh, I’m getting tears in my eyes just writing this.

That happened to me last night. I was drifting off to sleep, and out of nowhere it hit me that I’m a mom. I have two daughters! And you know, of course I know this- one of them is a legit adult now, the other one is 8. It’s not like it’s something new, but…it just sort of hit me. Wow. I am the mother to these two incredible people, their mother. What an honor that is. How lucky am I?

To get to have these two beautiful girls, so unbelievably different, so perfect in their own way. I have one who loves everything that grows- she plucked a giant mushroom out of my garden yesterday, and plopped it down on my butcher block, examining it like a scientist. She broke it apart, leaving a trail of dirt and possibly poisonous spores over every inch of my kitchen…but you know what? I’m so happy that she’s found something she’s passionate about- her seed packets, and all of the knowledge she has about soil and zones, water and sunlight. The way she looks when she is plucking a bean from a vine, or pulling a weed from the earth. As a parent, all you could ever want is for your child to grow up and find the thing they love most, and I think she has done that.

And then there is the little one- tender-hearted, kind, but absolutely self assured. She loves tiny, tiny things, colored pencils, blank pages, pencil sharpeners. She’ll drop everything to give me a hug, but then she rushes back to whatever it is that she is focused on. She’ll give up some of her time for me, but she is pretty clear about needing her own space, her own time. I feel like that will serve her well. She also loves jokes, loves to laugh, more than anyone I’ve ever known…and again, this will help her immeasurably in life.

I LOVE these girls. I love them so much. And it is such a miracle, such an unbelievable miracle, that I get to live this life I am living. For an addict like me to be living a life like this- gainfully employed, a real career, my bills paid, food in the fridge, these gorgeous kids, and I am CLEAN? Are you kidding me? When I think of how desperately I longed for this life, so many, many times. When I think of how little hope I had, how futile it seemed to even think about it. Because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stay clean. Except I did. I have. I continue to.

And because of that, I get to feel like this. Like my heart will just burst open from all of the gratitude and love and appreciation I have for my life in this moment. For the mother I get to be because I just kept showing up, day after day, and I stopped trying to change the way I felt by putting drugs in my body. I went ahead and felt my feelings instead. I went ahead and faced the truth about who I was and what I had done. I went ahead and dealt with it. And it was hard- it’s still hard sometimes. I have a lot of painful memories, painful facts about my life that I can never change. But you know what? I’m making a lot of new, really beautiful memories, too. And if I keep it up, someday they might just outweigh the bad ones.

For that, and for so many other reasons, I am deeply grateful this morning.

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Posted in family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, women

Messy

messy

On the peninsula where I live, September and October are the most beautiful months of the year. We get these gorgeous, sunny days and the evenings and mornings are crisp and cool. It’s not like autumn anywhere else that I’ve lived, but it’s lovely nonetheless. I might be imagining it, but it feels like there is a quality to the light, too…it feels more fall-like, and I just love this time of year. My body seems to sense the difference, and I become more relaxed and languid. I want to be with my family even more than usual.

It’s a good thing, too. My daughter (who will be 21 in just a couple of weeks!) and her boyfriend had to move back in unexpectedly, just temporarily (we still haven’t pinned down exactly what “temporarily” means to them, but trust me, that conversation is coming), so I have a full house right now. They brought with them their cat and dog, and the cat is currently running around behind my chair, trying to play with/provoke her own murder with my cats. My cats are mostly just ignoring her.

So, my younger daughter is sleeping with me (nothing new about that), and my older daughter is in her sister’s room, and I…well, I’m happy. I’m sorry, I know I’m just one of those moms who sleep better at night when I know where my kids are. And the thing is, I ADORE my daughters. I sit here in the morning, and I think about how crazy it is, how lucky I have been, to have gotten the kids that I have. That I grew them in my own body, that they exist at all. It blows my mind. Of all of the ways I ever imagined my life turning out, there’s no way I could have expected this feeling of love. It is truly everything.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s not always sunshine and butterflies. The older one has mood swings that are unpredictable and incredibly swift, and the little one cries about thirty times a day for almost any reason you can imagine. They are people, not just little extensions of me. Which means they have minds of their own, and reactions I don’t expect, and feelings about things that are different than my own. But this is also what makes them so wonderful. I love their differences. I love them exactly as they are. I enjoy their company. Which makes me very, very lucky and blessed. And super grateful.

I have not always been a “good mother”, whatever that might mean to you. By anyone’s definition, I would have pretty much sucked. But more and more lately, I feel like I am doing it right. At least when it comes to them, at least in that part of my life, I feel capable and competent. And that makes me feel really good. Because when it comes right down to it, what else could matter more in my life? The way I loved my children has got to be right up at the top of the list.

My life is messy. I can’t ever seem to get a handle on my home, I can’t stick to a routine to save my life. I struggle to like myself, I’m harder on me than anyone else has ever been. It’s a challenge for me to just lighten up a little bit. But you know what? That is just LIFE. This is just who I am, and I’m working on accepting myself, warts and all. (for the record, I don’t actually have any warts. That I’m aware of.)

And there are some things I’ve gotten right- these beautiful, funny, smart, big-hearted young ladies that I get to call my own? I hit it out of the park in the kid department. They are part of the mess, I suppose. Which makes the mess a lot easier to love.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, recovery

The Best Things…

I Love You quotes for Daughter Mother daughter quotes at www.bmabh.com

It is Tuesday morning, and my house looks like a cyclone hit it. To my left, the couch is covered in jackets, napkins, pillows, a purse, and a discarded bra. Under my chair is an empty sparkling water can that I keep forgetting to pick up, and next to that is my seven year old’s backpack.

There are no dishes in the sink because we haven’t eaten a meal at home in DAYS. There is, however, a garbage can full of empty take out containers, and one half eaten box of carne asada fries on the microwave stand. The bathroom floor is covered in clothes abandoned pre-shower, and left there until someone (me) picks them up. The counters are littered with expensive make-up and hair products. The front porch? Oh lord, I was out there this morning, and there are puddles of spilled coffee all over the place, a dead giveaway that my older daughter is home. She loves coffee, but doesn’t metabolize caffeine very well in her tiny little body.

And in each of the beds in both of the bedrooms, my daughters lay sleeping. My mom always says she sleeps so much better when her kids are home, and I get it, I really do. The past three nights since my oldest has been home, I’ve slept with my bedroom door open, and slept more soundly than I have in weeks. Just knowing she is right there, in the next room, and my littlest one is sleeping beside me…it’s like heaven.

You have to understand, my daughters and I…we are the closest of the close. Aisley, my oldest, we have been through hell together- most of it my doing, of course, but she…I’ve always said, she’s the reason I am still on this earth. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if she hadn’t come along. We are more than just mother and daughter, we are each other’s core family, the nucleus, the main event. We grew up together. Which means things can get weird, and roles can be confusing- sometimes I try to be the mom, and she doesn’t want it. Sometimes I’m more like a sister, and she needs a mom. We have struggled with boundaries, and with communication, and with our expectations of each other. We’ve healed a lot since I have gotten and stayed clean. I think she finally trusts that I am serious now, that I’m not going to fuck this up. She doesn’t look at me with that suspicion on her face anymore, and I never want her to worry about that again. I don’t really ever entertain the idea of getting high anymore, but the odd time that it idly crosses my mind, I imagine what it would do to my children, and I know it’s not worth it. Not even close, not ever.

It was always Aisley and I, the two of us, and no one else. By the time Camryn was a toddler, Aisley was off living her life, in high school, running around with her friends. So I basically have two only children. Now it is Camryn and I, and Aisley has moved away. But sometimes, for brief times like this, I get to have them both, together, sleeping under the same roof, and I can breathe again. The worry I didn’t realize I was holding, I can set it down for a few days.

I am so blessed. That my life turned out the way that it has, that my children still love me, that I get to be their mother, and that I am better at it than I ever dreamed I could be. Not perfect, I’ll never be perfect. I might not ever even be great. But I’m so much better than I ever thought I was capable of. And honestly, for now, that’s all I need.

Posted in Blogging, faith, family, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships

My Girls

daughters

One thing in my life that it is never hard for me to be grateful for- even on the very worst days- are my daughters. Man, I hit the jackpot when it comes to kids! My girls couldn’t be more different…not only are they 13 years apart in age, they are just completely different personalities, and yet I relate to them both so much, in separate ways.

Yesterday, my eldest, Aisley, who is beautiful and complicated, came down off the mountain she now lives on for a short visit. She misses me so much now that we aren’t seeing each other every single day, and it’s been hard on her. So when she does get to come into town, she’s so excited to see me- she wants me to write down recipes for her, and she has so many things to show me and share with me. This daughter has always been my uber-affectionate little bear, and she still wants a million hugs and all my attention when she sees me. Yesterday, she planted a little vegetable garden out in front of my house for me. She put in little stakes with labels so that I would know what was what, and she made me promise to remember to water it. She has my dirty sense of humor, and we always make each other laugh, and I am so glad she belongs to me- that I get to be her mom. I’m so happy to call her mine.

And Cammy, my little one…oh, man. She is so smart and independent, with her giant vocabulary and the biggest heart. One of the great joys of my life is waking her up every morning. I always take a minute to watch her sleeping;  mouth open wide, hair in a big old knot on top of her head. She still lets me haul her into my lap for a quick cuddle most days, even though she hangs over both sides of me by quite a bit, and I can barely pick her up. I smiled this morning as I watched her lurch, half asleep, to her waiting bath, like a little drunk person. I know these particular days aren’t going to be around for too much longer…I am acutely aware of the passage of time, having been through this once already.

That’s all, really. I just wanted to take a minute to speak my gratitude for my children out loud to the Universe. I don’t know how I got so lucky- I definitely got so much more from this life than I probably deserved. But I am so in love with those girls, and feel so blessed to be their mom, still the most important woman in their lives. Every day I pray to be worthy of the task, to be the person they need me to be. Some days I fall short of the mark, but miraculously, they love me anyway. I don’t understand how that works, or why it’s true, but I’m sure glad it is.

Have a beautiful day. 🙂

Posted in family, fun, humor, kids, Life, love, parenting, People, random, relationships, writing

Dear Daughters:

two daughters

Hi! It’s me, your mom- you know, the weird lady who lives down the hall, who yells a lot (so that you can hear me, because apparently, our “inside voices” don’t work around here).  Anyway, I figured I would write to you this morning, since you girls are the center of my universe, basically blocking out everything else, and I have no other material. Not that I am complaining. I feel pretty lucky, I happen to have created not one, but TWO, offspring that I actually like.

I mean, yes, you have your less awesome moments. Like Camryn, when you want me to pretend to be a vampire or some other scary, imaginary creature, and I do, and then you get too scared, and punch me in the mouth with your tiny little fist. It’s hard to believe how much your bony little knuckles can smart, but you always seem to catch me in the exact wrong spot. I know you feel bad about it, and I am likewise ashamed of my (clearly too) believable portrayal of a blood sucking demon of the night. I don’t think I want to play that game anymore. And Aisley, thanks to our much lengthier history, I have a wide assortment of complaints I could lodge against you, anything from vomiting in my shoes, to taking my thong underwear to school for show and tell, all the way up to sneaking boys in the house (which I actually found more amusing than anything, because any guy who still likes you after being covered in your dirty laundry deserves whatever he gets). Despite all of that, however, you are both my favorite people in the whole entire world.

There is probably something wrong with me. But, I am not alone. Most moms feel pretty much the way that I do, just loving the shit out of our disgusting, embarrassing children- lucky for you. I am sure it is just some built in safety feature that keeps us from eating our young, or leaving them out on the side of the road when they become too screamy. Nope, most moms still don’t do that, even now, in these crazy times. Not that it doesn’t cross our minds occasionally. There was actually a full year, Aisley, when you were about thirteen or fourteen, when my dearest fantasy was to…well, it wasn’t kind, lets just say that. But in my defense, you were barely a human being at that age. I think it speaks volumes of both of us that no one was jailed. For long.

I can assure you, before you were born, I had never been peed on. Not even for fun. I had never been vomited on, at least not by the same person more than once, ever. I had certainly never been able to continue to tolerate anyone who wet MY bed on a regular basis. I am pretty sure that before you guys came along, no one had ever used me as a Kleenex, although that is one of those things you can never be totally sure of. I had never been expected to comfort and soothe someone who obviously hated me, I had never had so many doors slammed on me, so much change stolen from me, and so much of my stuff haphazardly destroyed. Before you were born, my main job was keeping myself alive, and I was not very good at it- mediocre, at best. After you were born, I was suddenly promoted to keeping alive small humans who couldn’t even hold their own heads up. Do you know how fucking terrifying this is? You both had mushy spots on your HEADS where the effing SKULL hadn’t finished growing. I just wanted to point that out, for the next time (or in Camryn’s case, the first time) you want to tell me what a terrible mother I have been. I managed to not let your giant heads snap off at the neck, and I kept things out of your soft spot. Cut me some slack.

In spite of all of that, I find that I can still look at both of you, at times, and feel the kind of love I have never felt for anyone else. The kind you read about in overly dramatic romance novels, only without the creepy parts. You both make me weak and stupid with love, like, my heart pounds and I get all choked up, and ALL of that. It’s embarrassing. But you are both SO lovely, and so funny, and so full of life and outrageous personality. In a MILLION years, if I had been able to hand pick every single aspect of you, to make a perfect child for me…I never, ever could have gotten it right. No one could ever be better, more perfect, in my eyes, than you are. You beautiful girls make me laugh every single day. I keep going because of you. I try harder because of you. I may not always get it right, but please believe, I never, ever stop thinking about you. And I love you both more than I could ever have imagined loving anyone, and that will never, ever change.

I just wanted to let you know.

Love,

Your mom ( the crazy lady down the hall)

Posted in Addiction, beauty, family, inner peace, kids, Life, love, People, random

If The World Ends Tomorrow

If  the world ends tomorrow, there are a few things I’d like to say.mayan-countdown

First of all, I have had a fabulous run. If the world really does end tomorrow, I will leave it clean and sober. I have somehow, out of the rubble of a life I had destroyed, managed to rise up out of the ashes like a Phoenix, weaving something beautiful out of the mess.  If the end is near, my head will be clear, my regrets will be few. I am so grateful to God for giving me the gift of relative speed, when extricating myself from the destruction I have visited upon myself, again and again- if relief had not been swift in coming, I don’t know that I would have hung in there. I am glad and proud to be where I am today, even with as much work as there still is to do. I know so many people who struggle on and on, and have to fight so hard for every little step forward, and I don’t know how they keep on…I don’t think I have that kind of strength. So, if this is it, I am happy with who I have been.

I know I joke around a lot about my mom, and, while I won’t pretend that we don’t irritate the shit out of each other, I will say this- she has been a good, good mother. My biggest fan, my mental twin, she taught me everything I know about pushing forward, striving harder, no matter what. Not only that, but she did it all with a clean house and great clothes, something I fall way short of. The best thing of all about my mom, though, were the holidays- no matter how broke we were, how awful things got, the holidays were magical thanks to my mom. I will never, ever forget those perfect Christmas mornings when, no matter how early I woke up, the tree would be ablaze with lights, music from the Nutcracker would be playing, presents were piled in heaps around the tree, and always, the cookies and milk were eaten, Santa long gone. Without my mom, I don’t know if I would have made it out of the lifestyle I allowed myself to be swept into- I measured myself so much by her approval ( a habit that is no longer very helpful, thanks) that at least I could see how far I had fallen. She never gave up on me. She always saw the real me, under all of it. I love you, mom.

I have the most amazing children under the sun. Aisley, so unlike me and then so similar- she is full of surprises, at such a weird, awkward part of life- fifteen. I wouldn’t go back if you paid me. Yet she handles all of the traitorous goings-on of high school with so much more grace and nonchalance than I ever could have. She is so beautiful and calm, most of the time, haughty and witty, private and contained. I think she will surprise us all, if we make it past Friday. And Camryn, my God! What a blessing and a joy she is. So smart, it freaks me out, so happy and sweet nature’d, charming and  funny. I was so afraid of having another baby so late in life, but it was the best idea I’ve ever had.

If the world ends tomorrow, I can tell you that my life has been breathtaking, full of abundance and blessings, a million last minute rescues, countless good people who have reached out their hands to me, pulling me back when I got too close to the edge. The beauty has been constant, even in the dark times, even when I couldn’t see it. The heartaches have all been worth it. The goodness far outweighs the bad.

If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, I will be glad. I will continue on, as I have been, trying to get better, to be better than I am right now. But if it does, it’s been a wonderful trip. It’s been a marvelous time. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Posted in advice, beauty, family, kids, Life, love, People, Uncategorized

The Heart of a Mommy

courtesy of Gail Nogle Photography

I would like to dedicate this post to all the moms I know, but especially to Amanda Davis, and her one month old baby girl, Maxine. I love you with all my heart.

The day that each of us got the news, either from a doctor, or, more commonly, from the stick we just peed on that had the nerve to turn pink, our lives began to change. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know for me, the first few months were a mixture of fear (is everything alright in there? What the hell will I do with a baby!?), excitement, and that weird, buoyant radiance that feels different from any other thing apart from pregnancy. We become so in tune with our bodies, and every day we wake up with a new sense of purpose- to carry this life within us carefully, safely, to it’s fruition. Not everyone of us gets to do this perfectly- I have friends who have lost babies, friends whose babies were born so, so early that they spent months in the hospital keeping vigil at their tiny infants bedside. For many of us, as mothers, this is the first time our lives are every truly hard or scary- it’s like everything before this pain is NOTHING in comparison.

From the time we feel their movement inside of us for the very first time, like a butterfly’s wings fluttering or a flurry of tiny bubbles brushing against us, to the alien rolls and elbow jabs of late pregnancy, we begin to develop a relationship with this little person. Then the moment arrives when they are ready to come out into the world, and time stands still the first time you see this marvelous, beautiful human being for the first time, or hear their tiny, gorgeous voice. There is nothing in the world like this.

You have expectations. What you think they will look like, what you think they will be like. Then, here they are, so different than you imagined- and yet perfect, better in every way than you could ever dream up on your own. A lot of times, we are so busy and caught up in them, these little miracles we get to claim as our own, that we don’t see what is becoming of us. The  biggest miracle of all, for me, was what happened to my heart the day that I began to love my first daughter.

Before she came along, I was very, very self- possessed ( I”m not saying I’m so damned perfect now, I’m just saying you should have seen me before!) and it was incredibly hard for me to be empathetic for others. But the love that came to me with her was so profound, so incredibly pure and perfect, there was no way I could accept that love and not be fundamentally changed. My heart was just laid open, and it changed who I was. It was really the best day of my life.

I was very, very young, and messed up countless times with that child. I will go so far as to admit that she got a bad deal with me. I wish I could go back and change it all, I really do, but you know how useless that is.  But I will tell you this- because of my love for her, I had the good sense to feel guilty about the way I was living, and the desire to change grew from that. Because of my oldest girl, and my love for her, I found my way out of the mess I was living in, and became someone better.

My second daughter knocked out every barrier I had left, allowing light in all of the places I had hidden away for myself. There was no place left in me now that was safe from emotion. My second daughters birth obliterated me with that love, and I was so ready and receptive to it. My heart expanded, making room for both of my girls and so, so much more. You think you know about love before you have kids, and I hope I don’t offend you when I say, with all sincerity, you don’t. You can’t, it’s not possible, it’s different, it’s rare and perfect and amazing. I know you love your dog, you love your parents, you love your husband. But this love, while absolutely worthwhile and good and necessary, is not the wrecking ball love you get with your babies. It destroys you and resurrects you into someone so much better than you were before- softer and stronger, deeper and…just better.

As our children grow, and the time flies by, there comes a moment when you realize that there is a distance growing between you. Then you come to understand that this was always the purpose of all of these years- to raise them and to let them go. It happens so fast. So, so much faster than you would have believed fifteen or so years ago…it breaks your heart. No matter how rotten and selfish and foul mouthed they have become, they are the same big-eyed, sweet smelling, little miracles who latched onto your heart with their sticky hands and kissed you with their runny noses underneath all that teenage loathing, and it hurts to let them go. But that is all you can do.

My advice to you, just starting out, is to relish every minute of it. Every time you start to feel fussier than the baby making you climb the walls, look down into that tiny face, and memorize it, because in five minutes they will be someone else. It goes by in a heartbeat. You cannot love too much, listen too much, be too affectionate, be too present …when they are small. But you can  do and be too little of all of these things, and you will carry that pain with you for the rest of your life-so do yourself a favor, and be the kind of parent you can be proud to be. You will not regret it. Welcome to the mommy club. May the force be with you.