I was out shopping with my 10-year-old back in January of this year. As we looked over the extensive mug selection, Olivia asked me why I had been drinking so much tea lately. I explained that I was slowly getting myself used to having a nice relaxing cup of tea at night instead of my usual wine, as a new healthy habit. Then, this adorable pair of mugs caught my eye. I quickly grabbed them and held them up with a smile for Olivia to see. She looked them over and then her eyes lit up as she said, “Maybe it will help if I sit with you, mama, and have my hot chocolate in the little one while you have your tea in the big one!”
And my heart burst.
“Yes, baby, yes it would help,” I graciously said as we loaded them into the cart.
You see, I was two months freshly sober, and hearing the excitement of my precious girl’s support really warmed my heart.
Now, at eight months sober, I’ve had a few friends ask me (and I’m sure others may wonder) what I have told my children about my drinking.
Here’s the thing—even before I openly admitted I had a problem, they saw.
Their sweet little eyes saw their mother, on edge after a long day, crack open a bottle of wine for relief.
Their sweet little eyes saw their mother then rely on that wine to get through dinner time, bath time, bedtime.
Glass, after glass, after glass.
Their sweet little eyes saw their mother buy into the whole “mommy needs wine” culture—sporting T-shirts, wine glasses, sharing posts, etc.—all supporting the unhealthy coping mechanism of using a substance to deal with the stress of a busy life with children.
Their sweet little eyes saw their mother change—become irritable, tired, edgy, moody, more anxious, less alive, less patient.
Their sweet little eyes saw their mother, despite all of these negative consequences, become scarily dependent on alcohol.
So, you see, the important part isn’t necessarily what I tell my children about my problematic drinking; unfortunately, they saw all of that with their own eyes.
Instead, it’s what they see now in my sobriety that matters most to me.
Their sweet little eyes see their mother openly admitting that she had a problem and needed help.
Their sweet little eyes see their mother lace up her sneakers, pop in her earbuds, and hit the pavement for a long run after a tough day.
Their sweet little eyes see their mother rely on her faith and God’s never-ending grace to carry her one day at a time.
Their sweet little eyes see their mother beating the relentless disease of addiction.
I am certainly not proud of a lot of my past actions; however, I am thankful for the opportunity to show the four sets of little eyes that watch me every day that even when we face challenges in life and our light starts to dim, that if we look deep inside, we will each find the ability to overcome and shine brightly once again.
To all of you out there struggling in one way or another and feel the pressure of things that feel too big and too heavy to handle, I see you and I’m rooting for you too.
Here’s to the sweet little things in life, friends.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page