Read an Excerpt
MOMS to MOMS
SHARED WISDOM from MOMS IN RECOVERY
By BARBARA JOY
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2011 Barbara Joy
All rights reserved.
What Are the Best Parts of Being a Mom?
FOR ME AND MANY of the moms within these pages, it is hard to put into words what the best part of being a mom is. There are so many best parts. It is hard to describe the deep and powerful love we feel for our children. When my children were babies, the best part was standing over them as they slept in their cribs at the end of a busy day. Not because they were finally asleep, but because, in those quiet moments, I saw their innocence and felt how deeply I loved them. They were pure, unconditional love, finally snoozing away.
As they grew and became teens, I think the best part was seeing them during their happy times, when they were feeling good about themselves and felt their lives were working. And then, of course, there were the times when they were in the mood to talk, and I would just sit and listen. Really listen. Often they didn't want my opinion or advice. They just wanted to be heard.
Now, all three are grown and have homes of their own. There are many good parts. Sometimes it's all of us being together around the table and laughing. They all have children. Watching them parent is one of the best parts. There are things I would do differently today, but somehow all three have turned out to be loving, responsible parents. The moments of feeling proud of who they have become may very well be the best part of all.
Better than Ice Cream
Being loved unconditionally by my child is the best. My child sees me as being better than ice cream at times. No matter how bad my day has been, when I walk through the door, my son sees me and gives me that look that only a child can give his mom. His smile fills my whole heart because it is all love for me. His tiny arms hug me with so much strength. That's the best part of being a mom ... Being seen in the eyes of my child.
Getting to Know Them as Little People
I am getting to truly know these two little individuals and their personalities. I used to see their struggles as mine. Today, I know the difference. Now it's, how can I help them with their struggle? I love seeing my eleven-month-old develop into who she is ... she has an attitude now. It's very sweet. The three of us have a lot of fun. They love each other so much. Jackson has never been mean to Piper. He has to take the backseat often because she's the baby.
I love watching my little ones develop their own personalities and the love they show for me. We have a shared bond. I love the love they give me, but also love watching them grow, learn, accomplish things, and reach milestones. It's amazing watching them develop their personalities.
That Look in Their Eyes
For me, the best part of being a mom is the incredible amount of love that I get back from my kids. That look in their eyes when I have inspired them or helped them understand something. To be someone they look up to and respect is the most awesome feeling in the world.
The best part is when my daughter trusts me. She appreciates when I show up on time and join in her activities. These are not things I did when I was drinking. Now they mean so much to her.
Watching Her Grow
Watching the miracle of life happen before my eyes and knowing that I took part in it. Watching my daughter Sadie grow into a beautiful person, learning and experiencing new adventures and feelings, is priceless.
The Day I Got My Son Back
The day I got my son back from CPS was the best ever. They took him as an infant from the hospital. I got him back while I was in treatment. I'll never forget the director of the program handing him to me. It was an awesome moment. And then the day I went to court and legally, completely got him back was also a best. It was an accomplishment. I did it! I succeeded at something so important. I'm not going back, because I could lose everything. I've worked hard. I have my relationship back with my mom, too. She used to put out missing reports on me and I would get so mad at her. And now I know it's because she loved me and was worried about me. We have a great relationship now. I've accomplished a lot in just a short amount of time.
The Simple Things
Children appreciate simplicity. Actually, most of us do. When we manage to keep things simple, there is less room for chaos and overwhelm to step in and take over our days. A wooden sign that hangs in my office says, Keep it Simple. It reminds me daily to do just that. It helps me remember not to overbook myself. It helps me remember that the simple things are many times more meaningful than the elaborate time-consuming stuff.
Imagine a gift-wrapped box sitting in front of you. Before you open the box, you open the card. It's a handwritten note from the giver of the gift. The words touch your heart. After you have opened the gift and the card, which one will likely be more meaningful? Many times, the card with its simple heartfelt words will have more lasting meaning than what was in the box.
For me, the best part is just getting to be there for my kids every day. At the end of a work day, I can't wait to get home and just be a mom. It's the simple things in life I enjoy now, like cooking dinner, watching a movie together, playing a board game. Even going to the grocery store.
The best part is the love I get from them. It's so fun to watch them grow up into the boys they are. They are remarkable kids, and I am so blessed to have kids that are so normal. The best parts are the simple things ... playing games together, listening to their made-up stories. They love me no matter how much I suck!
The best part is that, I notice, when I make healthy choices, my daughter really enjoys the simplest of things. I am there to notice it because I am sober. In my addiction, I was never out of bed before she left for school, so we didn't talk or connect before the bus came. Now, every morning I walk her to the bus. She is smiling (most mornings) as she goes off to school, and I feel good.
The best part of being a mom is getting to feel connected to something or someone who is directly a part of my own soul. A chance to create a new and exciting life, less the pain of circumstances from my own childhood. Some may say that some parents live vicariously through their children, doing things they never got to do as children. I, on the other hand, feel it's my chance to live the life I was always meant to have, less the childhood traumas of being raised in an unprotected, abusive, neglectful environment. It's almost like having another chance to take my own life back through the will of my own children.
My son recently got two As. To see the accomplishment on his face is the best. He had worked hard, and this was validation of his accomplishment. I love being able to guide my boys and show them the right way to be in this world.
The Laughing Game
The best part of being a mom is when I see my son laughing that contagious laughter. Those times when he is just himself. That is pure joy. We have a game we call the Laughing Game. We both just start laughing, and it goes on because we are laughing at and with each other.
Laughter is healing. Have you noticed that you feel better after a good laugh? Often the circumstances that are stressing us are unchanged. But after a good laugh, life just feels a little lighter.
Everything is the best now that I'm in recovery. I see their needs. I am present for them. Being able to love and show proper affection instead of a hug and kiss and then sending them off to the TV. I used it as a babysitter. Now I play or read with them.
Being in My Life
The best part of being a mom today is the joy my children bring me by still being a part of my life. They never gave up on me. They loved me even knowing that I was the mom who, after their play or any activity, would need to go in her room to nap (I needed a drink or joint), or who, after coming from a family event, would already be torn up and continue once at home. I'm amazed at how, today, it is so easy for them to tell me they love me. Wow, I'm still forgiving myself. They really love me.
Seeing Their Own Spirituality
Seeing my kids process and use the techniques and lessons that I am teaching them is the best part of being their mom. Probably the most exciting one is their knowingness of their own Higher Power. My sixteen-year-old was having bad visions, demons in his head, and would turn to anger. I kept encouraging him to let those pictures go to his Higher Power. One day he said, "Mom, those demons just turned into angels." I love watching them use breathing techniques and prayer as they go through their day.
A Deep Sharing
Now that they are grown, I am participating in their lives from a distance, vicariously, and they share with me what's going on. They share on a deep level. Now that they are all grown and in their own relationships, we are really close. They had a rough time growing up. Kids are so entertaining. They were when they were little, and they still are.
Many moms shared that feeling connected to their children is the best part. Think of the times when you feel connected to your child and the times when you do not. Often, the circumstances are the same, and yet there can be a feeling of connect or disconnect. The key to the connection is unconditional love—loving them no matter what—and taking the time to really be present with them.
We sometimes don't love our children's behavior, but we always love the children. Make sure that the love shines through.
Connecting, really connecting with my teens is the best. I meet my children where they are. If one is in his room, I go to him. I listen and try to talk less. Driving in the car with them is a great way to connect ... there seems to be fewer interruptions and the conversations can go deeper. Dinnertime at the table ... I have managed to keep the priority of cooking them dinner and eating together as a tradition.
The God Box
My child and I have a God Box. We put our worries, fears, and hopes in it, and give them to God. Every Thanksgiving, we open our box and see all of the worries that have been taken care of, the fears that are lessened or gone, and the dreams that have come true. There are always a few that surprise us, which have been taken care of but not in the way we thought they would be, or which haven't been answered. My son doesn't focus on unanswered ones, and says they will be addressed when the time is right.
I thought as he got older, he wouldn't use this tool as much. Or I thought he might use it to ask for material things. But I see that this is a powerful tool for him. He believes in a power greater than himself, and he likes having this belief.
Another way we connect is at dinner. We sit down every night with nothing else happening. We talk about our day. What was the best part? What was the hardest part? That is our time together, and nothing is more important at that time.
We share and read books. We read together, alternating pages. She sometimes shares with me special parts of a book she is enjoying.
Sometimes I am playing my guitar and she is playing with her baby doll ... pure connection and contentment.
Recharging My Heart
My boys like to snuggle with me. They grab their blankets and snuggle right next to me. My youngest son gives me hugs and tells me he is recharging my heart. I hold him until we both feel our hearts are recharged. It's so sweet. He came up with this on his own, and it melts my heart when we can recharge each other. With my older son, he's even more snuggly, so he just gets right up next to me and "demands" to snuggle!
I love Jen's phrase: recharging my heart. Hugs, sharing a moment, listening to them—all of these recharge our hearts and theirs too. Hopefully, you've noticed that none of the moms talked about buying them things being the best part, but instead simply being present for their children and loving them for exactly who they are.
I find ways to connect with my children every day. I appreciate the simple things that my children and I do together. I am grateful for my children just as they are.
What's the best part of being a mom for you?
Why Is It So Hard to Be a Mom?
MOST MOMS AGREE THAT IT'S hard to be a mom. Whether our children are young or old, with us or apart from us, being a mom is not for weaklings! In addition to the many other needs we try to meet each day, we also have to tend to our children's needs.
I've never come across a mom, in recovery or not, who doesn't agree that being a mom is sometimes hard. The saving grace is that being a mom is also a gift given to us to be treasured forever.
I'm Outta Gas
The demands, especially with young children, seem never ending. Sometimes both my boys are coming at me with question after question and endless demands that are so important to them in that moment. On a good day, I can hang in there with them. But many days, I'm exhausted. I am empty. I have nothing left to give myself or them. That is when I get testy and cranky. I want to scream. Sometimes, I want to just go away and hide, but there would be no one to parent them, and so I do the best I can. It's not their fault. They're just kids and they have needs. A car won't run if it's out of gas. A mom won't run if she's on empty.
If only we always had a full supply of patience. Ever notice how, when you are feeling patient, the kids seem to get along better and the day goes more smoothly?
Children push us to the edge. Sometimes over the edge, and that is when the screaming and threats take over. Children don't mean to try us until we lose our tempers. They are not thinking about how their behavior and moods impact the rest of the family. When you are exhausted from being up all night with a crying baby, and just want a few minutes of peace and quiet, they choose to pick a fight with their siblings, or just roll around on the floor and make irritating sounds. Have you ever been trying to get everyone in the car to get them to school and you to work on time, but they just keep dawdling? They are not trying to make you mad or late. They are simply not thinking about your need to be on time.
Parents often say that they are sure their young children are out to ruin their days. In most cases, this is not so. They merely have different priorities than you do, and do not yet have the maturity to care if you are late to work.
I don't like being the bad guy ... having to always remind him over and over to pick up his toys, turn off the TV, take a bath. All of those seemingly simple tasks that can wear both mom and child into a frenzy. It is almost impossible, some days, to remain consistent and not give in. He needs me to be clear about the expectations and rules. It would be much easier to just yell at him and give up, but that does not serve either of us well. It's my job as his mom. I am his loving teacher, his guide. He is depending on me to show him and teach him how to be in our world. It's how he learns. I am a very important role model in his life. My actions are as important as my words in parenting Parnell.
Recently, I was in a very bad mood, and Parnell was so discouraged with his homework.
He kept calling himself stupid and dumb. I started to get frustrated with him, and then I realized we needed to be redirected. We walked to the park. I calmed myself down and we started over. We came back home and sat down and did his homework together. If I had to choose a word to describe the hardest part of being a mom, it would be patience. Parenting is so humbling.
Sometimes we are so desperate that we demand compliance. Do you ever hear yourself saying, "I want it done now!" or, "Do it because I said so"? Sometimes these statements get the kids up and moving to do what we want in the moment. But over a period of time, they lose their effectiveness, and the kids tune us out. These kind of statements also send a message to the child that says, "I am your boss. I don't respect you." And that is not what moms really want to convey.
Excerpted from MOMS to MOMS by BARBARA JOY. Copyright © 2011 Barbara Joy. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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