"A great mom"

I read this article today written by someone I admire and respect (and have been lucky enough to meet.)  This article talks about her fear of becoming a mother.  She worries that if and when her dream of having kids will come true, she won't be good enough.  Give it a read. 

Dear Friend,

While I understand your feelings.  I would like to share with you some knowledge that I've learned as a mom for 19 years.  I have 3 natural kids, 1 stepdaughter and 1 that will be my stepson someday.  I can tell you with all honesty, that after all these years, I still worry about being a good mom.

The fact that you have waited, and are contemplating if you will or won't be a good mom, that the thought of having children makes you take pause and wonder if you will be good at it- is enough to know that you are at least aware of the mom you might WANT to be.

I got pregnant at 22.  I was in a new and exciting relationship and destined to be in love forever, the way we are at 22.  I did not think about why I wanted kid.  I felt it was just something I wanted, so I did it.  I didn't put a lot of thought into it- and I struggled for many years.

Many of us go in with ideas of natural childbirth, breastfeed only, cloth diapers, homemade baby food, we will sterilize EVERYTHING, never microwave a bottle to heat it up, let them cry it out, never use a pacifier, vacuum when they are sleeping so they get used to noise, and we will read to our child every. single. day.  We will keep the baby book current until they are five.  We will never use TV to distract the baby.  We will never put cows milk in a bottle, and only give our kids fruit as snacks.  We will ever raise our voices.  Never argue with our partner in front of the children.  We won't ever say "because I said so."  We go in with at least some of these good intentions.  We will be "a good mom."

Then we have a child.

Quickly we realize that sometimes you have to give a bottle.  That there isn't enough hours in the day to MAKE baby food.  If you shake the microwaved bottle, it will dissipate the "hot spots."  We realize that a pacifier both soothes the child, and also allows you to have a conversation with someone.  A little TV doesn't hurt, and you have to sweep the floor sometime.  It is impossible to not raise your voice when your child is about to put something questionable in his/her mouth.  You also learn that there is very little in a parents' vocabulary that feels quite as satisfying as "because I said so!" 

That's all ok.  You will become the mom your child needs because you are not a selfish person.  You actually put thought into this.  Perhaps the maternal instinct will kick in, and it becomes as natural to you as a baby fish in the ocean.  When that happens, it's like magic.  It didn't for me.I still make daily mistakes.  I curse around my kids.  Some days they are the last to get picked up from school.  I recently forgot to actually MAKE the sandwich for my sons lunch and sent him to school with only two pieces of bread in the plastic bag.  My "Mom of the Year" speech got tucked away a long time ago- and I think the paper is wrinkled and the ink is faded.  Most days I am glad that "nobody bled today."

When my oldest son turned 16, I finally started making enough money to support him and his brothers.  I finally live in a nice house with a stocked fridge.  My son, now 19 and moved out, who didn't get as much of the 'good stuff' as my younger ones are enjoying, doesn't hold it against me.  He knows I did the best I knew how and that I love him.  They never REALLY appreciate you until they are older anyway.  That's important to remember.

Parenting is hard, and even the ones who DO all the "Good Mom" things, make mistakes.  While I can't stand her, Dr. Laura talks about being a "good enough" mom.  It means we do our best, we realize we are not perfect, and if we have a bad day, we let it go and try to make tomorrow a little better.  Judgment errors will be made.  Bad decisions will probably happen.  Kids are resilient and forgiving.  They love you even when you leave them in the diaper too long or when you sing off key.  For most, the only real currency needed is love- and that is given in the form of doing your best, giving them your time, hugging them a lot and teaching them the things they will need to know when they stop being children.

It's good to have that fear.  It means you are aware of what's ahead.  You are looking around, scanning the scenery, watching for sharp corners and things that make you itchy.  You are already looking out for the child you will have someday.  It's a good place to start.  It's where a lot of us DIDN'T start. 

You might even be a little bit ahead of the game.  Best of luck to you. 
May you be good enough.




Addiction rant

Addiction.  Ugh.  I hate this topic, and yet it's something that I am passionate to talk about.  Have I ever been addicted to something in a life threatening way?  Maybe.  My addiction to my alcoholic husband may not have ended my life, but it definitely dashed my hopes, destroyed my dreams, and changed me in ways that I can never get back. 

I still, look at the bottles of alcohol in the fridge and take a mental note of how much in there.  Want proof?  About 6 months ago, I went into the garage fridge to get a soda.  I do this, about 5-10 times of day, depending on the day.  We keep the soda and the alcohol in the garage.  I went in there, and not even realizing that I was looking, the Captain Morgan bottle looked lower.  I could not remember having looked at it when I was in there two hours earlier, but I knew it was lower.  Panic spread over me.  That sinking feeling in my chest- the cold in my upper arms- the tightening of my throat.  I started at it for a few minutes, and then I closed the fridge.

I went to the office and asked SR.  Did you have a drink today?  He pointed at his glass.  Right in front of him. 
"Yes I poured this an hour ago."

So even now, it effects me.  It is still in my nature to pick up a glass and smell or taste it.  This is one of the reasons I am actually GLAD that SR drinks from the can because random glasses laying around will cause me panic.  An empty glass where there should not be one?  Like the bathroom- can stop me cold. 

I bring this up because I saw a video this morning that I've seen before.  Actor Matthew Perry suffered from the same thing my late husband did.  Alcoholism that turned to pancreatitis that turned to addiction to pain pills.  At the end of season 5, Chandler is heavier than he was at the beginning of season 6.  In season 6 he is very thin, and you can almost hear it in his voice- that narcotic slur.  It's slight, but I recognized it immediately.  In this video, he is talking to someone who is basically saying that addiction is a choice.  That the "supposedly addicted person" could have decided to not drink again.  Just made that choice. 

I know that some people can.  Some people can see that there is a problem in their behavior and just stop.  It happens.  For the millions of people it doesn't happen for, I don't believe they can just decide and stop.

I believe that addiction is a disease.  It's an insanity.  How do I know?  Because I lived it.  I watched it.  I buried it.

There were many things I didn't know about my husband.  Many secrets, many things I choose not to see.  I admit that I was not always helpful.  I was enabling, I was manipulative, I was mean.  I admit that.  However, I KNEW my husband.  I knew that he loved me, and he loved our children.  I also eventually knew that love wasn't enough and I had to chose me and the children over him.  I may never EVER get over the fact that I could not love him enough to make him better, to make him "decide" to stop.  It's so much easier to blame myself- I still do it often.

Did he choose to be an addict?  No.  He chose to take the first drink.  The first pill.  The first, whatever.  He chose that.  He chose to not seek the help that was offered to him again and again.  He didn't choose to be addicted.  He didn't choose to be broken.  Sure, the argument can, and has and will continue to be made that his choice not to take help WAS his choice to continue his behavior.  The argument can be made that each time he got "clean," he choose to drink or drug again. 

This is where, for me, I do and have to believe in the insanity of addiction.  True to life insanity.  If I believe he loved me, which I do- and if I believe he loved our kids, which I do- then I have to believe that NO SANE PERSON would choose to put our family through what we went through. He wasn't a sociopath.  He wasn't cold, or apathetic.  He was one of the most empathetic loving people I have ever known.  He was the guy who gave strangers rides on hot days.  He was the guy who sat with a dog who had been hit by a car and talked to it while it died.  He was the guy who, when we were still living together and the guy I had been seeing (yes he knew about it) broke up with me, came into the bathroom, saw me lying on the floor crying, came in, picked me up and carried me to bed- even though it broke his heart to do so. 

He didn't choose to have a disease that tore his family apart.  He didn't choose to behave in the activity that would leave his kids without a father.  I will never believe that.  I can't.  I support those who struggle with this disease.  I applaud the efforts and the work they do to help themselves and others.  I am always encouraged when I see people post about how many days, months or years they have been sober.  My heart breaks for those who fall off the wagon.  My heart aches, a deep hard, crushing ache, for those loved ones who can do nothing but worry, and cry, and sometimes leave.  I empathize with those who scream, bully and manipulate their addict in an attempt to sober them up. 

I really do.  I believe that addiction is NOT a choice.  I believe that no sane person would put their family through hell.  I believe that he could have been saved, but he was too far gone.  There was too much against him mentally and physically.  I believe that his passing, while tragic, was a bittersweet blessing.     

Some days I am still angry at him, but I will never believe that he chose to be an addict. 


Shiny happy music

Having worked in music store for most of my twenties, I understand how music effects people.  I remember when Swing the Mood by Jive bunny came out.  We listened to it constantly in the store, because it sold like crazy.  It also made people dance.  It made people WANT to be there and shop.  It actually put people in a good mood.  Go ahead and listen while you read this.  If you don't have to hear it all the time, it's not bad to listen to. 

Elevator music is relaxing, because who wants to hear something loud and panic stricken when they are in an elevator?? 

Grocery stores seem to have picked up playing adult contemporary music, sometimes even radio stations, which is good- usually.  Occasionally a song will come on with a frantic beat and it makes you move faster.  You feel in a hurry, like, oh my god I need to hurry, shop faster, get the hell out of here.  This is bad for most stores. 

At the music store I worked at, usually the person working at the front, or the manager would have control over what would play in the store.  I tried to find a decent mix of what the employees could stand, what they liked, and what would sell.  During the holidays it was all holiday music, all the time.  At the time it was awful because 8-10 straight hours of Christmas songs is obnoxious. 

This morning in the car I listened to these songs, in this order:

Shake it Off- Taylor Swift
All about that Bass- Meghan Trainor
Roar- Katy Perry

I was flipping channels and I felt like I got pretty lucky because these are all great happy songs that are good for driving.  It made me wonder, however, why I love happy music.  In general, I listen to pop music although I love country, and rock, and classic rock and hip hop and a pretty decent range of music.  However, I really like happy music.  Upbeat.  I think I'm a pretty upbeat person, at least I try to be.  I try to positive and cheerful and I think the music I listen to reflects that.  I know when I was a teenager, I was into the less cheerful stuff.  Not necessarily the lyrics, but the music itself was less cheerful.  I'd never accuse the Cure of being upbeat, or Depeche Mode- although there may have been some.  I was depressed a lot then.

In the 90's, I listened to a lot of country music.  Songs about dancing and drinking and being in love.  I did a lot of that in the 90's.  I did listen to some grunge.  The first grunge song I heard was Man in the Box from Alice in Chains.  The guy I was dating was absolutely enthralled with it, and while I admitted that I really liked the groove to it, grunge never really reached me the same way.  I could and still do very much appreciate what is and isn't "good music" for whatever reason I think it's good.  My late husband loved Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, we even played Chris Cornell's version of Ave Maria at his service.  It's both ominous and beautiful.

Which brings me to something else. I put together a bunch of my late husbands favorite songs (or versions of them) for his memorial service.  Towards the end, my sister asked me why I picked all these songs, I said they were his favorites.  She said, "Really?  They are all REALLY sad." 

I hadn't really thought of that before.

So I wonder, what do my favorite songs say about me?  Does the music I surround myself with influence my life, or does my life influence the music I listen to?

Well, I hope this last song at least puts you in a good mood.  How can it not??