Saturday, May 10, 2008

An Alcoholic Mother

I am one. I had one. I have given birth to one. or two.

I had my first drink in July of 1966. I was pregnant by November of that year. I was 14 years old at the time, so you know this isn't going to have a really happy ending... I went away to a home for unwed mothers, they had them back then because it was scandalous for a child to get pregnant and have a child in the mid 60's. At the age of 15, I gave birth to a child I called Mary Catherine. She was named after a nun at the St. Vincent's home in Chicago where I was residing. I never got to touch her. She was whisked away from me the moment she was born. She was adopted immediately to a "good" family.

A lot happened between 1967 and 1976 when I gave birth to the first child I got to keep. On an August morning in 1976 I gave birth to a beautiful and perfect little boy. His father, my husband, was at my side. He loved me and he loved his child. We came home and I got to nurse this boy, and bathe his little body, and sit in a rocking chair with him all night long because he did not sleep. He was beautiful. He is now 31 years old and I still see that baby when I look at the man he is today.

In June 1978, my husband and I decided that we wanted another child. I desperately wanted a girl. By July 1978, I was pregnant again. This pregnancy was different. I was sick. I felt terrible. My belly was getting huge, but the rest of me was getting smaller. By December 1978, when the doc was suggesting that I might be due a month or two earlier than we thought - I insisted on an ultrasound - which was amazing new technology in 1978 - and got to see two little babies inside me! I was pregnant with twins! Were there twins in the family? no. In March 1979, I gave birth to two beautiful and perfect little girls. (5 lbs. 7 ounces, and 6 lbs. 6 ounces) But there was still a surprise... there was another baby. Stillborn. This sounds ridiculous, but that still makes me sad. The other thing that makes me sad is that my husband felt betrayed by this pregnancy. He always suspected that somehow I tricked him into having two children for one pregnancy. It put a huge strain on our marriage. So, I was the mother of three small children and had a husband who would not even LOOK at me. Obviously, he was not helping me with the children. And how do you defend yourself against such insanity?

One morning, 4 weeks after they were born, I was hurriedly trying to carry my youngest baby into a restaurant while husband, son, and other twin were sitting inside. I went to close the car door, and the little bundle, swaddled in a yellow blanket, fell out of her car seat and onto the ground. The little bundle did not cry or move once she hit the pavement. I picked her up and unwrapped her, and she started crying. I went into the restaurant, and her head started swelling. We took her to the hospital and she had a fractured skull. Oh my God. Her twin and I stayed at the hospital with her because I was breast feeding both of them. They didn't know if she would live through the day. Then they didn't know if she would live through the week. When they discharged her from the hospital, they said that she could die any time in the next six months. Thank God she lived. Do I sometimes wonder if she would be "OK" if I hadn't dropped her? Yep. Logically, I know that this makes no sense though. And another nail went into the coffin of our marriage.

When I got home from the hospital after giving birth to the girls, I drank margaritas all night long. This started a bender that really didn't end until I got sober in July, 1984. Thank God that I did not drink through my pregnancies. That is how I knew I was pregnant, the taste of a beer and a cigarette was suddenly disgusting and I knew something was VERY VERY wrong! I am so grateful for this blessing.

So much has happened since those little babies were born. Now they are adults. All of them. I found my adopted daughter when I was sober 2 years. I met her when she was 20. It was the most peculiar experience of my life. She was a budding drunk at that time. She was already the mother of a 3 year old boy. I have not been able to find them since 1990. I keep thinking that somehow I will find her again, but I have so far been unsuccessful.

When I was sober 6 years, my by-then ex-husband got custody of my three children. I was married to someone else, who decided to retaliate on my behalf - and then there was a restraining order. When your ex is married to a lawyer, these things happen.

When my youngest child started her own career with meth at the age of 15, my ex and his wife were more than happy to let me assume custody of her... We lived through those years. They were hard. Through all of this, we have never ever stopped loving each other. No matter what, we always love each other. She is the heart of my heart.

So, this year... My son is 31 years old. Recently returned from Iraq. He is buying his first house. The "good twin", L. has a budding career, is planing to move in with me for 6 months so that she can save money to go to Europe for a month in September. M is awaiting her admission to a very good rehab on May 21. MY ex, her father, has taken custody of HER two daughters. She made some threats when this happened, so there is a restraining order. She cannot see her daughters at all. She has not seen them since Easter.

Yesterday I got on the phone and called M. I asked her what she is doing for Mother's Day. Her voice changed from happy to sad and she said she would probably just feel sorry for herself all day. I told her we could hang out. She lit up and said "really?" I told her "You know, I do understand what this is like for you." She told me she has thought about that a lot lately.

I called the other two and told them that I was hanging with M. That they could join us, but the little ones couldn't be here because of the restraining order. I told them they really need to honor their step mother this year because she has taken on those two little ones. I may not agree with her 99.9% of the time, but I do respect that she has raised a bunch of kids who were not hers.

So I am having dinner for my kids at noon tomorrow. The two "good" ones will then go on to their dad's. I will hang out with my daughter - the one who is like me.

I do understand her. And I love her. And she loves me.

And you know what? The other two love me and I love them too. What a freaking miracle that this could come from what has happened to this family. If you were to walk in on us tomorrow, you would have no CLUE what the history is. You would just see a loving family.

Thank you God. Thank you program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank you fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.... that means you!
December 2009
I have edited this post since it gets a lot of traffic from searches for "alcoholic mother" and there was FAR too much personal information here. There is still probably too much. But I took out names and dates of birth, etc.

The good news is, I am still sober as I sit here today on my 58th birthday. I have been sober since July 24, 1984. My daughter got sober on January 14, 2009 and celebrated 11 months of continuous sobriety yesterday. One day at a time....We are all doing very well. My adopted daughter was able to find me and contacted me in February of this year. We have tentatively stepped back into a relationship... it is very strange to start a relationship with a 42 year old daughter when you have only met her once.

But my real news is that there is hope for alcoholics. We can and do get sober every single day in Alcoholics Anonymous.


dAAve said...

God has blessed all of you. In His own way.

Anonymous said...

Bill-Anon, here, from Planet Bill.

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I feel like I have been to a powerful speaker's meeting without leaving my home. Your experience, strength, and hope will stay with me all day.

Zane-nawwaa said...

Blessings are wonderful. Even more so when we realize them. Thanks for the story. You are so loved.

Scott W said...

Thank you, Sweetie. That God gave us the power of creation is astonishing. Not just that we can create another being, but that we are given free choice to create a life that is rich in texture, that follows the love flow of the universe and that allows us to be of service to others. Rich, rich, rich.

Trailboss said...

What a moving post. I hate that you and the kids went thru such hell but things happen for a reason huh? My son was 8lbs 8ozs too. He is 26 and a pillhead. It is sad.

Pam said... little prickly pear. I've always felt kinda hmmm guilty(?) because my heart and Lauras heart seem like one sometimes. The other two are loved completely by me...but the sick one, the damaged one, the like me. The other two just don't "get" her. I get her...she gets me. I suspect that's the case in your family as well.
Thank you for sharing this with me (us) today.
(mc likes sex...hee hee - a lot)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I hope you have a Happy Mother's Day.

- wendy

Kathy Lynne said...

Happy Mother's Day MC!

Scott W said...

Happy Mother's Day, Mary Christine!

BigSkymAAck said...

Hi Sweetie,
Now there is one more for you. It is wonderful to read your reflections on being a Mom.
Happy Mothers Day,

Syd said...

That's a wonderful story of your love and their love for you. It is remarkable that love has survived so much and yet, it is there and given unconditionally.

kel said...

Thank you for sharing this story, it is moving and powerful and a testament to what love can do.

Mark said...

Wow - not too much I can add except, wow... you are truly a power of example!

Happy Mom's Day (a day late).

Anonymous said...

Stay strong and just be there for your children. Your story is truly amazing and inspiring. Your character is strong and loving and I pray that God will help your daughter get help and make sense of her life.


Anonymous said...

You are a strong woman, and you have overcome huge obstacles in your life. You should be proud of yourself and your children.
Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you and your family the best.