Bless This Mess



I’ve been staring at this computer screen for a few weeks now. I have all these words and thoughts running around my mind, but they’re stuck. I can’t seem to convince them to leave my head and make their way onto this page. The longer I delay their exit from this cracked up head of mine, the more stuck they get.

I feel lost.

I want that comfort that you feel when your mom hugs you and tells you everything will be ok. I want the comfort of late night couch dates with my sisters and brother. I want the warmth of my dad’s wood stove that keeps us cozy during the winter months. I want to eat my stepmom’s chicken curry at the family table. I want to wake up to the smell of my stepdad making his morning breakfast scramble. I want to hug my grandmother and laugh at funny stories about my Grampie.

I hope you’re enjoying my pity party as much as I am.

I’ve spent the past year hoping, wishing, and praying that I would somehow be able to drive the 880 miles with my kids to my parents’ houses on the East Coast. Unfortunately, there’s this tiny little pandemic thing that’s really put a damper on our travel plans.

Clicking my heels together three times didn’t do the trick either.

There’s no place like home.

Home is where the heart is, but my heart is all over the place. Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Virginia, Colorado, England, Ireland, and California.

I’ve spent a lot of time moving furniture around, buying decorations, hanging pictures, sitting by the fire, and more. I keep thinking that those activities will make this place super homey and cozy. It doesn’t.

It feels broken, it feels unfamiliar, and it feels lonely. That’s not the kind of home I want my girls to grow up in. Recently, I was talking to my sister LeeLee about all of this. I called her up, crying and full of worry that the girls would never have the same comfort of home as I had growing up. I told her I felt like I had failed them, that this was all my fault and I’m a horrible mom. She interrupted me before I could finish that last sentence.

She said, “Katie- you are their home.

BOOM. Instant emotional happy tears cry fest. A big ‘ol mess, and ever so blessed.

When we moved from Michigan, we talked a lot about what a house was and what a home was. My oldest didn’t want to move and leave her purple and yellow bedroom behind. I told her over and over that a house is just some wood, pipes, plumbing, and glass.

That’s it. A house is a bunch of things with a roof. It gives us shelter, but it’s not what makes a house a home. A house can’t hug you or kiss your booboos. It can’t tuck you in at bedtime and it can’t make you laugh. It’s pretty easy to say those things to someone else, but I have a hard time saying them to myself.

Finding Nemo premiered when I was sixteen and my sister was three years old. I took her to see it once, and then took myself about three times. I LOVED IT. The themes of finding your way back home, family, community, figuring out who you are, and unconditional love really lightened my dark teenage angsty heart.

“Because when I look at you, I can feel it. And I look at you and I…I’m home.“- Dory

Home is inside.

Home can be anywhere your heart takes you.

Home is looking into my daughters’ eyes and wondering how I ever lived without them. It’s seeing myself in them and knowing that I’m in their heart and home too. Home is snuggling with my dog and the magical way he brings calm to our racing minds and love to our hearts. It’s the memory of my grandmother’s voice as she sang, “All The Things You Are” at her last Thanksgiving with us. My home is filled with my daughters’ contagious laughter which pulls me back in when my mind wanders far off into the dark. Home is singing them to sleep and snuggling like sardines. It’s spontaneous dance parties when our hearts need a little joy. Home is being able to acknowledge the broken home that took up residency inside of me and moving into the new homestead in my heart while shining out the light that brought us all together.

Wherever I am, wherever they are…we are home.

Just know you’re not alone, ‘cause I’m gonna make this place your home- Philip Phillips

Grandmother

I grew up during a time when Family Video was a thriving business filled with endless amounts of VHS tapes to enjoy on a Friday night. The checkout line displayed row after row of candy. When you reached the cashier you were greeted with signs saying, “Friday Family Fun Night Snacks!” next to large tubs of popcorn with real movie theater butter. That was the shit right there.

She’d let me pick out whatever I wanted. We rented “Selena” with a side of candy lipstick (if you’re a child of the 90’s, you know what I’m talking about), a big tub of popcorn, some skittles, and a soda. If I had asked her to buy the entire place out, I’m sure she would have. I was the only grandkid for ten years and I wore that crown like a boss. She would set me up in the guest room upstairs with the big AC unit so I could watch Jennifer Lopez reenact the career and life of Selena. I learned every word to “Como La Flor” and “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” while dancing on the queen-sized bed, using the remote as my microphone. I remember knowing right then and there that I wanted to be a singer. The music moved me in a way I had never felt before (I mean… I was nine years old, but whatever). That movie, in that room, on that hot summer night is when my love affair with music began. As an adult working on a degree in musical theater in my 20s, I reflected on that night over and over.

I learned to swim in the pool out back. I can remember the way the pool liner felt on my feet as it dipped from the shallow end to the deep end. “Look! I can still touch here!” Flip flops off the diving board. Underwater handstands that ended with a mermaid splash. I would put my goggles and flippers on and spend hours dipping in and out of the water while getting in touch with my inner mermaid. “Count how long I can hold my breath underwater!” I would yell out as she dipped her toes on the edge, watching me try to break the Guinness World Record for youngest person in the history of time to hold my breath underwater for the longest amount of time. Or, at least that’s what it felt like. She gave me unconditional love and attention, which I’m sure was exhausting. I was kind of dramatic, if you can imagine that!

Hard to picture, right? I was an only child, the only grandchild, THE LIGHT OF EVERYONE’S LIVES until some other kids were born and blah blah blah. (Love you little cousins and siblings!). After my parents got divorced, my grandmother joined my mom and I on a trip to Disney World. It was fantastic- until we lost her. Yes, my mother and I lost her. One minute she was standing next to us, the next I started screaming about wanting my own parasol with my name written on it in cursive and I had to have it RIGHT NOW before the nighttime Disney parade started. If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that they close the park each night with a massive light spectacle and parade. When the parade starts you can’t really move. If you’re on one side of the street and your family is on the other, that’s just too bad, because Mickey is on his way and you better just stand back.

Did I know this at the time? Probably. But I needed that damn parasol. My parents just got divorced, woe is me, my childhood is ruined forever! The only way that I would ever have happiness in my life was if I had that parasol. The purple parasol with my name written in fancy cursive on top. She crossed the street at the last second. I think we thought she would probably stay there until the end of the parade, but as things came to a closing we realized she wasn’t there.

Imagine losing a family member in Downtown Disney and then having to go to the “Town Hall” where a man in a barbershop quartet is taking your information and putting out an announcement that there’s a lady missing: blonde hair, medium height, probably wearing a fanny pack. My mother was freaking out, and I realized that we may never ever find her- or my parasol.

Priorities.

A few hours later after an extensive search by people and Disney characters alike we realized we had done all we could do. There were no cell phones or GPS trackers yet. We hopped onto the trolly back to the “Mighty Ducks” parking lot trying to figure out what we were going to have to tell everyone back in CT.

“Lost? Disney? What happened?”

“Did she bibbity-boppity-boo herself right out of there?”

“Did she turn into a pumpkin at midnight?”

“Did you call the police?”

As we pulled up to our designated lot we saw a figure in the distance sitting on the hood of a car that looked vaguely familiar. There she was! Sitting there under the stars, waiting for us to finally show up, parasol in hand.

Every winter and summer we would head up to the homestead in Oxbow, Maine. It was a place of serenity and beauty. There were acres upon acres of forest covered in fresh snow and small woodland creatures. We would walk a bit down the road to fill old milk bottles with fresh spring water. If you came for a visit in the summer you would have a chance to see the beautiful gardens cared for by her loving hands and experience the thrill of being eaten alive by 50,000 black flies for weeks on end. My great-great Uncle, whom we called Gramps, warmed the cabin with a wood stove and cooked bran muffins every morning to eat on the screened-in back porch. We’d also do another very fun, exciting – thrilling, if you will- activity while out in the wilderness up there.

Moose watching.

We went moose watching.

Not once. Not twice. But dozens and dozens of times in my childhood.

We’d wait for it to get dark out, hop in the old fashioned mini van that looked like a cross between a station wagon and a box, drive out a bit, turn the lights off and wait.

And wait.

Until all of a sudden you saw something out of the corner of your eye.

“Shhhhh! Look…Katie… see? See over there?” “See what? I don’t…”

…and BOOM turn on your headlights and there’s a handful of large Moose ready to charge into your mini van from 1994. But, they didn’t. They just took a good look at us and we took a good look back, and we continued this tradition for most of my life.

“TEN! Ten moose this time! Can you believe it?”

I had more fun looking for moose with my grandmother as a kid than I’ve ever had playing candy crush on my iPhone. Those were some of the best times, and there was no social media to distract us from the wonder and beauty of life.

She has a green thumb that I envy. I couldn’t keep any plant or flower alive if my life depended on it. She has always taken great pride in her work outdoors. Her garden always flourished, and so did the poison ivy rash she would get countless amounts of times. Honestly, in my 34 years of life, not a single spring or summer has passed without that woman catching some rash from this and that in her own backyard. When I was in high school, I went away for the weekend once. She had come over to help my parents with their garden and ended up staying the night. She slept in my bed. A few days later I overheard her talking about her recent bout of poison ivy which just happened to be all over her body. I started itching before she could even finish the sentence. I somehow manifested phantom poison ivy itching because I was certain that the woman had infested my sheets with it. I was a teenager. I never changed my sheets. All of a sudden I imagined big pink and oozing poison ivy blisters all over my torso and how my boyfriend would never want to hold my hand ever again.

The closet upstairs is where she keeps most of her photos. If you opened the door to the damn thing, you’d be buried alive under all the albums that she’s shoved in there over the years. Books filled with photos from Memorial Day parades, birth announcements, birthday parties, piano recitals and more. She would pull them out for me all the time and say, “Hey Katie- look at this one. Remember that?” She would hand me a picture of the time we had a unicorn at my birthday party in her backyard. Of course I remember.

She’s always made me feel important.

Loved.

Cared for.

She and I have always had a special bond, but I didn’t realize how special it really was until recently. Our demons know each other well. When I was a child I found this all to be very confusing. What happened? What was going on? Was she okay? Where did she go?

She always came back. I didn’t ask questions, I just knew that she loved me and she was trying to love herself too. I had no idea how heavy her burden was. I didn’t know what it felt like to carry that burden alone. I had no idea that one day I would understand.

I do understand, but because of her, I have never had to carry that burden alone.

I woke up a few years ago and realized that I was missing out on life because I was too busy numbing myself from it. I couldn’t experience joy, pain, sadness or happiness. I did my very best to drown my feelings, good or bad. I thought it was normal, until it wasn’t.

I isolated myself from everyone I loved and who loved me. I was too terrified to try to cope with life, I just wanted life to shut up. It was too loud. I drank up everything I could, hoping to float. Instead, I just sunk deeper and deeper to the bottom. The deeper I went, the more the darkness grew.

I was scared. I was ashamed. I was broken. I was nothing.

I thought I was alone.

With trembling hands I reached for my phone, dialed her number and waited for her to say hello. I could hardly get the words out, tears were streaming down my face and I could hardly breathe. I called her because I knew that she knew what this felt like. I could hear her own voice trembling and could picture the tears on her cheeks too.

She said she was proud of me for asking for help. She said she loved me and she was sorry.

“Sorry for what?”, I asked.

All the times she wasn’t there. All the times she tried and failed. All the times I saw her at her worst.

I could feel her heartache in my own heart.

None of that matters, Gram.

Every obstacle we go through in life has the ability to either take us down or make us stronger. Even in defeat we have the opportunity to grow.

I sound like a cheesy self-help infomercial right now, but it’s the truth.

When I think about what she’s given me, I can hardly express my gratitude. She and I share the same disease. Without help, it’s fatal. If she wasn’t who she is and hadn’t gone through what she’s gone through, I’m not sure I would have been able to recognize it in myself and muster up enough courage to say, “My name is Kate and I’m an alcoholic,” if she hadn’t said it first.

Her journey helped me discover my own courage to accept and surrender.

She saved my life.

I love you a bushel and a peck Gram. To the moon and back and over again, endlessly.

63,072,000

Have you ever closed your eyes while driving? I don’t recommend it if you’re planning on living a long life. But, if you’re a risk taking kind of gal like myself, you might have. It takes less than a second to make an irrational, reckless decision like that. I remember thinking how badly I just wanted to feel alive. I wanted to ride a rollercoaster with my arms up in the air screaming, “I CAN FINALLY FEEL MYSELF LIVING!” or “I’M GOING TO PUKE.” Either of those scenarios would pump adrenaline in my veins forcing my brain and body to snap into the present.

I wasn’t suicidal. I just wanted to feel something, anything, no matter what the risk. The big hole inside of me had spread. I was numb to everything- love, life, sadness, reality, happiness… all of it. It felt like I was being pulled down into the ground by branches and weeds. It felt like I was being covered with dirt and sand, unable to breathe or experience anything, but still hopelessly alive.

92CB02D3-1918-454B-BA2C-6CB396F05092I felt this way right after I got sober. I had already admitted to myself and every person in my life that I was an alcoholic. I cannot drink normally. I’m allergic to alcohol, it makes me break out in stupidity. Saying that kind of thing out loud didn’t really seem all that difficult for me. Yeah- hi, I’m Kate and I’m an alcoholic. Whoopdeedoo. It wasn’t rocket science. Everyone in my family had been walking on egg shells for years wondering when I was finally going to stop.

I stopped. Aren’t you happy with me now?

Aren’t I happy now?

No. Sobriety doesn’t come with a Groupon for instant satisfaction and joy in life. What it does deliver is a swift dose of reality and most of us are very startled by that. What do you mean I have to work on myself? I just gave up my best friend. Isn’t that enough? Are you seriously telling me that I have to show up at these meetings with you random, weird people and tell strangers about my life? What the hell is wrong with you people? I like to air my dirty laundry out on facebook, not face to face. That just sounds savage.

I’m was willing to kiss Pinot Grigio and PBR tall boys goodbye. Peace out alcohol, this relationship is over. I’m moving on to bigger and better things. I figured that first night that I would go to sleep an alcoholic and wake up to a happier version of myself.

That’s pretty typical of us alcoholics, right? We want what we want and we want it right now. If we can’t get what we want when we want it, we can become slightly…insane. I can’t even count how many tantrums I had when I ran out of wine.

It’s pretty clear that alcoholism is a symptom of something much harder to break. Our mind can be a weapon against ourselves. Our lives are full of self-destructive chaos. We slowly kill ourselves with substances to avoid situations and emotions that cause us stress.

Shortly after I decided to get sober I started to see the real world and it was FUCKING TERRIFYING. I had to tell myself, “Don’t worry, you stopped drinking, you don’t have to feel those things. Alcohol was the problem!”

HA. HA. HA.

Every table I sat at in the beginning was filled with people who had coping skills and they seemed pretty damn happy. I wanted what they had and this time I could get it. Ask and ye shall receive. They told me what to do. They told me I would have to work hard to achieve sobriety and start a better life. They told me to surrender. They told me to pray. They told me to breathe.

F238EE5C-D1F7-4900-8F56-A2BAD60F91E2Breathe. I have always been trying to catch my breath. Trying to run around and search for anything or anyone to fill the void. When that didn’t work I kept running in every other directions until I finally couldn’t.

Sobriety is simple. I have regularly found that I don’t exactly do *simple*. Breathing is also simple. But, I find myself holding my breath. I breathe in fear and let it settle into my core. Instead of living in the moment, I get stuck in the moment. I can’t control anyone or anything but myself. I hold my breath when I’m hurting, when I’m demoralized and beaten with words. I hold my breath as I watch my children grow and worry if they’ll make the same mistakes I have. I hold my breath when I think about the love I have lost and the love I’ll never have.

Sounds pretty sad right? I’ll invite you to my pity party. All of my fears dancing around me taunting me, pushing me, trying to break me into the shadow of my past.

 

Woe is me.

 

Here’s why I haven’t suffocated yet- I drop to my knees and quietly ask God to take over, be my ventilator until I can inhale my serenity and exhale the rest. I reach out to others who have learned to breathe and ask them how. How do they do it? They just do it. They put the time, the effort, and the service to help others and themselves.2A62B932-A96B-4B41-B785-64080836D04B

I’ve been breathing my whole life. When did I complicate it? The answer doesn’t matter, the solution is sobriety. It’s trying to comprehend that this life has not been handed to me, I have to work for it. It’s taking those risks, opening my heart, opening my mind, and asking God to take over. It’s accepting that shitty people, places and things happen. It’s accepting that I have been shitty to people, places and things (… I’ve thrown a good amount of cell phones in my time.) but that doesn’t define me. I define me, and I identify myself as a sober mom just taking it all in day by day. Am I perfect? No (unless you ask my dog, of course). Am I trying? I am.

I’m taking life one day at a time. One minute at a time. One second at a time.

63,072,000 seconds to be precise and a lifetime more to go.

17247AE6-DFBA-46B1-B255-24D2CDDD6C24

 

 

Be here with me now.

 

“Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be set free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” -Chuang

 

I can’t sit still. My mind is always going at full speed into a million different directions at any given time. I could be cooking dinner for my kids and my brain will be thinking about what color backpack I should get them next year and when was the last time that the lawn was mowed.

8936BB3B-F1DE-46EE-A2C9-0667F28B3FD2My mind is loud and reckless. It’s distracted and random at best. I spent about a decade trying to quiet the damn thing down by smiling hard and guzzling wine.

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.

Please.

I found it very easy and simple to shove it all down with one substance or another. Feelings are dumb. Don’t have the feelings. If you have too many feelings you might end up on the Dr. Phil show.

Distraction works as a defense mechanism. Instead of being present and taking life one day, one minute, one second at a time, I’m over here planning my three year old daughters wedding several decades from now instead of working through my own relationships in life.

Even without a hefty amount of toxins in my body I found the act of being present in my life was a challenge.

Here’s a quick example: I don’t have time. Time for what? Time to read the description of a television show called, “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix. I am a true crime junkie. I live and breathe for documentaries I can watch when the kids are asleep. I became emotionally invested in the entire first episode. On the edge of my couch, I counted the minutes. I realized that the show was more than half over and the audience was no where near knowing what happened to this poor guy. I waited and waited…

 

WHO SHOVED THIS MAN OFF A ROOF?

Did his coworker kill him? Tell me! Details! Now!

Then the screen went black and at the bottom there were a few lines saying, “If you have any information about what happened to so and so, please call this number…”.

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

The show is called Unsolved Mysteries. UNSOLVED. I must have just skipped right over that first word before starting the series. I couldn’t even take the time to pay attention to what was playing right in front of me.

Typical.

EEE16D89-13CF-437D-BDD0-A0E5865EAB11There have been so many moments in my kids life where I couldn’t or wouldn’t be present for them. Sober or not. When I was drinking, the alcohol came before everyone and everything. When I realized what I was doing and how I was missing precious moments with my kids, I chose to drink even more to not have to feel the guilt or shame. Even in sobriety, being present for others and myself hasn’t been easy. My daughter is always asking me to play with her. Let’s play ponies! Let’s color! Let’s go outside!

 

Sure! Sure. Yes. Absolutey. I would love to do those things with you, but first just let me finish folding the laundry, chopping the veggies, sweeping the garage, feeding the cats, charging my iPad, stare blankly at the wall while I forget which task I was supposed to do next, all the while missing out on moments that would have been memories. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the mens restroom in various gas stations, because I wasn’t paying attention.

I have never once left my house with everything I was supposed to bring with me. I’ve forgotten diapers, pants (MY OWN PANTS), wallet, phone, children…you name it.

I try my best to not spend all of my days drowning my sorrows, worries, hopes, fears, dreams, reality, or broken heart in a bottle. I slow down. I pause. I pray. I talk. I listen. I make progress, not perfection.

BBD40C79-2B4B-4F74-9C7D-7462BEC5235DA few months ago my mom filled me in on a little secret. She told me that she had started meditating and it was helping her with stress. I can’t remember my exact response but I’m sure it went something along the lines of “That’s cool, but that sounds like some hippie dippie shit.”

New Age Bullshit.

Well, maybe those hippie dippie people had a point. I was introduced to meditation in a group setting. I hadn’t intended on spending my evening with a bunch of people meditating in a room together. I just walked in the room. I saw some familiar faces. I made eye contact and realized I was fucked. I had to stay. Leaving would be rude, and my mama raised me better than that.

I sat in an uncomfortable chair, listened to the instructions, sat up straight, closed my eyes and promptly heard a familiar voice in my head that has always comforted me over the years.

Britney Spears.

 

I wasn’t exactly sure where my brain was going with that, but I think we can all agree that the Queen of Pop has changed all of our lives with her #1 hits over the years. So, if my brain wanted me to hear the classic early 2000’s hit “Lucky”, I didn’t question it.

I was told to let my thoughts happen, whatever they were. Good or bad. Just let them come and go.

C1B9573C-DC7F-419B-88C1-0F625EDC29A5The waves in the ocean, crashing with impact and then pulling slowly back with the tide, making room for the next. Over and over.

Ten minutes later I felt like a completely different person. I couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t understand it. I just knew that something had happened. My damaged heart started to open, the light that I had been avoiding came through the cracks. My mind allowed my heart to feel gratitude in a way I had never felt before. My eyes started to water, because the peace I felt in that moment was a gift. The tiniest amount of serenity left me with an awakened heart and mind.

So, I did what anyone would do.

I walked out of the room and promptly forgot every single thing I had learned.

But I kept coming back. I keep coming back.

Meditation has allowed me to experience life differenty then before. I can breathe. After all of these years, I can breathe.

2AF2ED41-3568-48B5-B3E1-BD045F6C925ASerenity and peace don’t just fall into our laps. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Yeah. No. That’s not how it works. The only way I can stay in the light is with an open mind, open heart, willingness, honesty, prayer and fellowship with a few like minded people.

048AF1F4-7EDD-4365-AB75-C1A8A7F7218BI sat outside a few days ago surrounded by rocks, paint, glitter and my daughters. I watched them laugh and goof off with each other. I watched them share the paint brushes (for the most part). I watched them show each other each and every stone with pride. I watched them toss glitter in each others hair and dance in the afternoon sun. I sat next to them fully present and grateful that I could be there with them. Right then and there. I could be still without thinking about next weeks dinner plans, if the car had gas in it, how to get rid of cellulite and if I fed the dog yesterday.

6F301EB5-F4F4-48B2-BF8D-ADA7CD7315CDThis moment matters. This singular moment. The moments that follow will matter as well, but I don’t need to worry about that.

I just need to stay in the moment until the next one comes.

There’s a force so much larger than ourselves that keeps whispering in my ear repeating this over and over again-

Be here with me. Be here with me now.

0A1C4AC6-404F-4F27-95C2-8FD36AF0115D

“Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustrations, fatigue. Let go of the need for approval. Let go of old judgements and opinions. Die to all that and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness” -Surya Das

 

 

 

 

 

A Womans Worth: A Letter to my Mama

Dear Mom,

I have been sitting on this topic for a few weeks. What worth do we as women have in this world? Do we acknowledge our worth, or do we let others diminish it?  Do we stay silent to hide our strength, because our strength is intimidating to others? A woman can’t be worthy in this world if she’s too much.

Too much or not enough.

Don’t appear too confident, too smart, too brave, too beautiful, too independent, or too successful if you really want to succeed in life and have a great husband.

0-2*Get it girl*

My dear Mama: you have raised me well. Some of the lessons I have learned from you have sat dormant in my mind for quite a while. I ran in the other direction. I made choices that kept me small. I firmly believed that a white picket fence would make me happy. It didn’t. I firmly believed that the only thing I could offer was giving birth to babies and emptying the dishwasher.

Don’t get me wrong- being a mom is the greatest honor I have ever experienced. I have the pleasure of watching these three wild, silly, strong-willed girls grow day by day and I get to be part of that. It’s amazing.

But is that the only thing I can be?

What about my dreams, my passions, my goals? It never occurred to me that I could do those things and still be the badass mom that I am today.

I let men silence me. I let society silence me. I let alcohol silence me. I let myself silence me. 

0

When I think about your life Mom, I hear symphonies instead of silence. You have spent your entire life pushing yourself to be better, wiser and stronger. You worked hard for your education, your job, and your home with a grateful heart.

0-1*

I know that as you are reading this, you are going to be flooded with emotions. I mean, if we’re being honest here, you kind of always have floods of emotion! That’s good. Gotta let it out.

I know that you have spent hours replaying different memories from my life where you wish you could have done things differently or wish you had been at one thing or another. You tell me over and over how sorry you are for missing stuff. I know that your heart broke when I went into labor and you weren’t there. I know that you still carry that guilt.

Let me tell you something. If you had been around, you would have been ushered out into the waiting room as I entered the OR for that damn emergency c-section. You wouldn’t have been allowed in. You dropped a heck of a lot of money to turn around and get on the next flight back to me. Everything was such a rush. The first baby. Total beautiful chaos.

0-13

I remember almost nothing about my c-section.

Do you know what I do remember? I remember you basically sprinting into the room several hours later. You dropped everything and made it back in record time. Maybe you don’t remember this, but by the time you arrived I was tired. More than tired. Emotionally drained and emotionally full.

 

What I’m trying to say here is that I needed a nap. I straight up just needed to sleep for a minute. You have no idea how deep the exhaustion is after birth until you’ve actually experienced it. You came in and walked right up to us. You picked up Fiona and held her to your heart. You sat down in the rocking chair and introduced yourself to her. I said something about being tired, and you told me to take a nap.

Nap.

Nap?

Moms are allowed to nap? I heard that was a myth.

0-12

You rocked that little smooshy face for almost two hours while I zoned in and out of an unusual sleep. You never sleep the same after a human being exits you. You have to be on call 24/7. I remember the wave of calm that came over me when you walked in there and I closed my eyes. I had spent the past several hours absolutely terrified when my *natural* birth plan didn’t work out. I felt guilt, as if my body had failed her. I don’t know how, but your presence helped calm those emotions.

You’re my mom. You knew I needed to sleep. Moms know everything.

Let me repeat that: Moms know everything.

You would have missed her birth if you had been one mile away or across the country. You would have had to sit and wait outside for who knows how long. I was ok. I did it. I had a baby. I needed you, but not right there at that moment. I needed you to come in like Wonder Woman, sweeping the sleeping baby out of my arms and into yours. I felt my shoulders relax. I felt my eyes getting heavy.

You were there when I needed you. I didn’t need you in the OR, I needed you right then and there in my hospital room. That’s what I remember. Not that you left, but that you came in at just the right time. 

We joke around a lot calling you a *workaholic*. You work. You work really hard. It’s easy for me to sit here on this couch and say you do too much. But I wouldn’t have the damn couch if you hadn’t worked so hard to make sure that we all have always had everything we’ve needed.  You work your ass off even when it seems impossible.

0-9

Being a mom is much like walking on a tightrope. It’s hard and almost impossible. People constantly ask, “How do you do it?” And the answer is simple: the love that we have for our children gives us no other choice. If we have to move a mountain, we will move a mountain. Moms are incredible.

0-5

The past year I have heard you say a lot of things about divorce. Your own and mine. At times you seem to believe that if you raised me differently, that perhaps my marriage wouldn’t have ended. You also seem to believe that you have some kind of control over this situation.

Let me tell you right now-You, your life, your family, your everything…not one single part of your past makes you responsible for what I’m going through, or what my kids are going through.

This isn’t your fault. 

You have brought me back from the ledge of the bridge too many times this past year. You have picked up every phone call. You’ve read every text. You’ve let me go on and on about superficial things while you are mourning the loss of your father. You put me first.

A few months back my marriage ended. I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to, how to make it through one more hour of the misery I was consumed with. A few days later you flew out. Dropped everything, got on a plane, and came out to give me a break. My house was flooded with sewage water. It smelled like a porta potty. You took care of everything. EVERYTHING. You changed your flight home, because you knew I needed more time with you.

You put your own exhaustion aside and sat by me when I needed you the most.

We lost Grampie. You lost your Dad. You had to be the one to call me that morning. Your voice didn’t even tremble. You knew you had to be strong for me in that moment.

I hope I can be strong for you too someday. 

Even when circumstances have been less than ideal, you still do what you need to do for us. You don’t give up. You push. You push into the right direction as much as you can.

0-7

I have spent my entire life watching you soar. You aren’t just a mom. You aren’t just a successful business woman. You aren’t just a loving and kind Grammie. You aren’t just the shoulder your daughters cry on. You aren’t just the mom who has pulled her daughter out of financial and emotional ruin. You aren’t just a devoted daughter. You aren’t just a beloved sibling, leader of the pack. You aren’t just a woman who has a deep love of twizzlers and diet pepsi. You aren’t just the mom who has sacrificed sanity to drive across the country with my three screaming kids in the back. You aren’t just the big promotion. You aren’t just the woman who has helped your daughter stay sober. You aren’t just the woman with a new car or a new house. You aren’t just a hallmark movie watching junkie.

You are Susan. 

You don’t have to be anyone or anything else, just being who you are makes your worth in this world and in my heart immeasurable.

You are enough. You are worthy. You are loved.

 

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

0-3

Semper Fi

Every morning for the past few months I have woken up, slightly terrified, thinking to myself, ” WHAT NOW?!?“. How can it get any worse? Everything is falling apart. God must hate me. Divorce. Plumbing. Quarentining. Death. I could go on and on. My pity party has been throwing it down day after day after day.

Boo hoo. Poor me. My life is a waste. Nothing matters. Blah, blah, blah.

My head has been so far up my ass that all I see is dark. I’m sure that I’ve been a pleasure to be around. Everyone loves a selfish, dramatic, midwestern housewife.

A few weeks ago I was sitting on my balcony in the middle of the night. It was cold and I was crying over something stupid. I just kept weeping. Snot nose and all, thinking of all the wrongs done to me. My house was flooded with sewage water. It smelled like thirty people all decided to take a dump in my hallway. My relationship was officially over, and the weight of that statement sat right on my shoulders pushing me as far down as it possibly could. So many scenarios popped into my head. My kids would have a broken home. I might have to miss certian holidays with them. I have nothing of my own- house, car, job, or bank account. I have ruined my childrens life. I’m a bad mom. Only a bad mom would allow this to happen.

It’s a pretty sad day when you’re sitting in your house tearing up wedding pictures while the faint smell of poop lingers in your floorboards. I thought to myself, ” THIS IS IT. I’m done. I’m not cut out for this life stuff.” My favorite thought that came to me time and time again was, ” I’m so glad I got sober just in time for my entire life to implode right before my very eyes.” My poor, fragile mind had always used alcohol to cope with feelings that hurt. Every glass of pinot grigio numbed my heart and mind. No one can hurt a drunk like me. Go ahead. Try. But before you do- can you please open that second bottle up for me?

The news started to focus on a virus across the world that was killing people at a very fast pace. If it’s across the world, why should I care? Sucks to be those dudes.

I had no idea what was about to happen.

I had no idea.

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A few weeks later we were ordered to stay home. Stay home from work, stay home from school, stay home from restuarants, stay home from anything and everything. I get clausterphonic really fast, and I could already feel the walls coming in closer and closer. At first, it was bearable. My kids school got cancelled for a week. A week? I can handle a week. That’s cool. Maybe we can do some family shit.

Oh wait, no we can’t. We can’t leave our homes. It’s just a week though. It will pass.

One week turned into two. Two turned into a month. A month turned into the rest of the school year.

Homeschooling a six year old, four year old, and three year old can be trying at times. All times. My kids come from an amazing school district and the teachers are super helpful and care so much about our kids. A few weeks in we found our groove. I started to enjoy helping my kids grow and learn. First grade math is tough though. I have such a deeper appreciation for teachers. This shit is hard.

Just as I was able to wrap my head around this whole quarantine, I experienced something that I could never have forseen or ever imagined. I didn’t have a partner to hold my hand or comfort me. I had to hear this news alone, my mothers shaking voice on the other end of the phone.IMG_0486.JPG

My Grampie died of COVID-19.

 

 

IMG_0490.jpegLet me tell you a little bit about my Grampie. I had him wrapped around my finger from day one. One of my earliest memories was asking him to get me an icre cream sandwich at 9 pm on a random summer evening. He walked down the road to the general store. A store in which they generally sell things that you might generally need at one point or another, generally speaking. So, he got me my icre cream sandwich. This event was repeated over and over when I was a kid. Grampie never said no. As I grew older, I would call the house to check in and say hi to him and my Grammie.

” Hey Gramps! How are you?”

” Now, who’s this?”

” Your favorite grandchild!”

” Oh, hi Jill!”

 

Yeah… I’m not Jill. (although she is my bomb ass cousin who has amazing hair and equally amazing sense of humor)
” Gramps! Haha! It’s me!”

” Miss Kaitlyn, how’s it going in Chicago?”

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*Here we have on the right the so-called favorite, Jill.*

We had an on going joke for a couple of years. If there was a ever a time where my grandmother was out of town, I would call him and ask when the keg was being delivered and did he have enough singles for the strippers that would be showing up in a couple hours. He would usually say, ” Well, I ordered two kegs this time. Just to be sure.”

Once every few weeks he would check in with me when I was in college. He would always end the phone call with, ” Now you be careful, alright? I mean it. Be careful.”

His favorite TV show was Keeping Up With The Kardashians. His favorite Kardashian was Khloe. According to him she was, ” The only normal one.”

My Grampie embraced his Scottish heritage with pride. But, I still had to beg him to wear his kilt to my wedding. It had been years since he had worn it. During the family photos I walked over to him. He said, ” Now listen, don’t get too close. I’m not wearing any underwear.”

…WHAT??!

Apparently, thats a Scottish tradition.

5666CA1B-2E9B-4DD0-A73E-EBC4315AB0BF.JPGHe loved my Grammie with all of his heart. Stubborn, but full of love. He was a police officer and made a very large impact on his community with his generosity, kindness, service, and a crazy sense of humor.

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For as long as I can remember, he was battling one ailment after another during his life. Cancer, cellulitis, bad knees, heart stuff, infections and more. None of those things ever took away his joy of life. He went through most of that with a smile. Maybe not the entire time, but he dealt with things in his life with humor.

A few months ago I flew to CT. Neither of my grandparents were in good health. I was very worried about my Grammie, and not quite as worried about him. The virus had already started to infiltrate Connecticut and we were told to wear masks in the hospital visitng him. He was in the hospital getting antibiotics through an IV. His roommate walked by and let out one of the most haneous farts I have ever smelled. It just lingered. And lingered. Grampie said that he does that all the time, you just get used to it. Honestly- it’s a wonder that those deathly farts didn’t take his life first. I don’t know why, but it seemed important to make sure I took a picture with him. I didn’t know it would be the last one.

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My kids loved him a bunch too. Everynight we look out at the Grampie star in the middle of the sky that seems to get brighter and brighter. We sent balloons up into the sky with messages about how much we loved him. The grief came in waves.

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There was no chance in hell that I could go home, because Covid-19 was everywhere. I’d be putting myself and others in danger. But- grieving someone you love from 800 miles away really, really sucks.

Really sucks.

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I cried myself to sleep a lot. I’m extremely blessed to have my aunt, uncle and two cousins out here in Illinois. Being around family during this kind of stuff  is so important.Screenshot 2020-05-07 at 12.27.57 PM.jpeg

I had to watch his burial on a youtube. He would have loved it. He was given a marine burial, sending him to heaven with the gratitude of many police officers, family, and friends. I saw my mom holding it together so she could make a speech. I watched my grandmother be given the American flag that was draped on the casket.

IMG_1332.JPEGBut here’s the thing- he died. That hurts. It will always hurt, but I don’t have to drink over it. I don’t have to grieve him while black out drunk on my couch. I had to accept that I couldn’t change anything about it. Acceptance is an absolute miracle.

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All of these things could be categorized as major life events. So many changes, so many tears, so much uncertainty. A big ol’ broken heart to top it all off. These are reasons to drink that are completley validated. All that stress can be washed down with a cold Bud Light, and you know what? Things are so hard, why don’t you have another one. And another. And another.

Another until there is no more.

Drinking wouldn’t make anything better.

But I know what does- sobriety. I packed up my pity party and threw it in the trunk. Every single person has to go through this kind of stuff at one point or another. It never dawned on me that you could deal with all this sober. How would anyone be able to do that?

I did what I had to do.

I prayed. I reached out. I sat around with a bunch of other drunks who had found ways to deal with stuff sober. I learned. I grew. I’m still learning. Still growing. Every single day I can choose to either work hard on this shit and come out stronger, or I can succumb to my demons.

I’m not the only person dealing with this. Thousands of people have lost family members.  Thousands of people have lost their jobs. Thousands of people can’t pay their mortage. Thousands of people have put their own lives on the line in order to help others. Thousands of people will never be the same.

So, what right do I have to complain about this current wreckage? Nothing. I have no zero reason to complain. I’m fine. My kids are fine. I have a roof over my head. I have food to cook. I have zoom. I have friends from 6 feet away. I have people who laugh about how ridiculous our masks look. I have my dog. I have so much.

I will never see my Grampie again on this earth. But I know with great certainty that he is here with us. Always will be.

My youngest ran out of the bathroom last week screaming, ” MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY! I FOUND GREAT GRAMPIE STAR!” We all looked up and there it was.

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*hot chocolate on the balcony saying hi to Great Grampies star*

 

That star.

 

I’m 800 miles away from my parents and siblings. At first I was jealous that they could all grieve with each other while I’m out here in rural Illinois. My support system walked out the front door without ever looking back. My heart burned. I figured I didn’t have a choice. I had to be alone.

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Ok yeah- screw that. I’m not alone. I have that star. I have my sobriety. Sobriety is the gift that keeps giving. I did not think I was going to be ok a few weeks back. I really didn’t. I also was choosing to be a grump narcissist, that might have had something to do with it. Because I am sober, and ONLY because I am sober can I appreciate the life of an amazing man and the blessing it is to be his first born granddaughter. Dear cousins- if you’re reading this you should know that I was the favorite. Admit it. You know it’s true. Don’t you dare say that we were all his favorites, theres only room for one. And that one being me. Me, me, me! (still working on that narcisit thing…)

 

I love you Grampie.IMG_0609.jpeg

Mama, I’m a big girl now.

These are crazy times.

 

In the span of time since I’ve become a parent, there has always been this constant thought in my mind. And that constant thought was, “I don’t know how I’m supposed to be a mother. I’m still a kid. I’m a kid having a kid.” The first time I saw my belly stretch a tiny bit, heard my daughters heartbeat, gripped the cold metal on the hospital bed as my body fought against me and they wheeled me into the OR for an emergency c-section… I said to myself over and over, “I’m just a kid. I’m just a kid. I’m just a kid.” Becoming a mother is equally as beautiful as it is perplexing. I was twenty-six when that kid came out of me. A year before that I was chugging PBR at the Foster Avenue beach reading a novel by Anita Shreve.

I used to just stare at her. I would watch her eyes flutter while she dreamt. I would watch her itty, bitty hands reach out for me to hold her close. It was the most natural thing in the world. And yet- I would scream silently in my head thinking, “HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO KEEP THIS PERSON ALIVE. I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER TO BRUSH MY TEETH RIGHT NOW, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KEEP HER ALIVE? SHOULD I ASK MY MOM TO COME LIVE WITH US? I’M YOUNG. I NEED MY MOM.”

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I’d love to say that those feelings subsided with the births of my next two daughters. But, nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. They just intensified. Significantly. I could have done a lot of things to help myself with the transition from youth to motherhood. I could have reached out for a mom tribe.

Instead, I reached for the wine bottle.

And so on. 

When I stoped drinking, I realized it was my job to raise these kids. It was my job to be there for their boo-boos, their bedtime stories, their every need. That shit is terrifying. It still is. I started feeling things that I had stuffed way down.

 

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Then something happened. Well, a few things happened. I found sobriety in a twelve-step program that has given me my life back. It has also given me a safe space to vent about motherhood one day at a time.

I finally grew up.

 

A few weeks back I was talking to my sister on the phone about this whole coronavirus thing. We both came to the conclusion that the end of times is near. This is the apocolypse. First this and just you wait- pretty soon the bushes will start burning, the seas will part, the stink bugs will start to multiply.

Don’t deny it. You’ve thought about it too. 

As this conversation went on I explained to her that I firmly believe that the world will go POOF one day and that’s the end of that. I also explained that I wasn’t all that worried, because I figured that it would probably happen when my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren were alive. Not really something I had to worry about. I would share the same DNA, but I’d be dead for decades upon decades before all that would go down.

Yeah. Ok. So, I was wrong.

Shit. 

During this unsettling time of quarantine and isolation, my kids and I have spent a lot of days home together. In fact, my kids and I have spent ALL OF THE DAYS together. I’ve gone from newly single mommy land to newly headmaster, superintendent, homeroom teacher, personal chef, director of operations mommy land. There’s not a whole lot of time to question how we’re going to get through all of this.

 

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We just have to go through it together. There’s been a shift in my inner mom monologue that constantly questions and wonders how things will get done. Gradually, I realized that I can do this. I can be alone here. I can put on my big girl panties and take on life like a boss bitch.

Every step I have taken in the past two years has prepared me for this. I can let go of my old life. I can have empathy, understanding, kindness, and compassion for others. Not all of the time, but I can at least try.

I can sit in front of my daughers as they learn about plural nouns and geometry and know that I am their teacher. Not just in those things, but in life. I’m not a kid. I’m a thirty-three year old, capable human being. I can face shit. I can face hard ass shit. I can face isolation, divorce, sobriety, anger, loss, confusion, hardship, and anything else thrown at me.

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I am a grownup. I am exactly what these three little dumplings need. I can make decisions for them and our future that hurt, but are survivable. I can use the confusion to teach them lessons about adapability and acceptance. I can trust that inner tug in my gut that leads me to do the next right thing while trusting myself.

I didn’t know that I could be that type of parent seven years ago. I thought I would screw stuff up and ruin my kids’ lives, because I clearly had ruined my own.

That’s just a lie that my brain tries to trick me with.

I get to pause and acknowlege the way my brain is thinking. I don’t have to stare at these little people with tears in my eyes beacuse I’m doing everything wrong. I get to look into their eyes with pride knowing I”m doing the best that I can.

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Sure, I need my mom. I’ll always need my mom. I need God. I need prayer. I need honesty. I need humility. I need integrity. I need happiness. I need a safe place to express my fears. I need the tired nights. I need rest.

I need help. Everyday. But the difference is that I”m not drowning in feelings of inadequecy. I’m learning the value of loving and trusting myself.

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On the eve of three.

In the quiet of the night, I sneak into your room. You’re the only one who lets me hold you as you sleep. Sometimes, I feel like the mom in the ” Love You Forever” book. I will love you forever. You were the biggest surprise of my life. I wish I could tell you how overjoyed I was when I saw those two pink lines at 10:20 am on a tuesday morning in May. I felt terror. I felt panic. I felt hopeless. I was deep, deep in the depths of post-partum depression and spiriling into a full blown alcoholic. If I’m being honest with myself, I was mostly upset that I would have to stop drinking again. Maeve was only nine months old. I had done a terrific job of swimming and then drowing in a sea of white wine since her birth.

47E44152-0CF7-43E8-A96C-11986719BD4AAs my belly grew, I would beg for you to kick. Just some sort of acknowledgement that you were there. We were there. We were going to do this together. Forge willfully into the future, whatever that was. I held your sisters as I wept. I didn’t think I was a good mom. I was a mom who would plan naptime and bedtime around how much wine I could consume without getting sloppy with the kids. I didn’t want to play with them. I didn’t want to take walks with them. I just wanted every day to end quickly so I could drink myself into some sort of dreamy oblivion where I was thin, smart, happy and at peace with myself. I never had those dreams. I had nightmares. And panic. I would bolt out of bed hyperventilating. It only worsened as you took up residency inside of me.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. No one cares. No one cares. No one cares. I’m a bad mom. I’m a bad mom. I’m a bad mom. Help. Help. Help.

I can’t breathe.

I tried to talk about it. I mostly talked about how I was sure that if I could drink wine throughout my pregnancy that I would never have to experience a panic attack ever again. I counted the days. Nine months. Two-hundred seventy-three days. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Somehwere, buried deep down under my selfishness, there was a little flicker. A little butterfly. The kind of feeling that makes you get goosebumps, but in a good day.

 

I’m here Mama. I’m here.

 

I bounced on that damn exercise ball for hours in labor. Reciting a name over and over. You were a boy. I was so sure of it. It never even crossed my mind that you would be a girl. My girl. You came fairly punctual like your sisters. On your due date. You entered the world confused and screaming, but no one was more confused than me.

Until I took a deep breath, looked down at you and said, ” Hi Lucille. You’re here.”

Your sisters and you are amazing. You all love each other so much. Even when you’re terrorizing each other, I always hear the belly laughs a few minutes later.

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Your big sister decided that we were going to call ourselves the Giggle Girl Gang. Mommy and the three of you. You guys did a lot of giggling. I tried my best, but I rarely giggled. I did a lot of drinking. Chug, chug, chug.

And then the biggest miracle of all happened-

I got sober. I started to see past the fog of insecurity and depression. I saw my daughters. I saw so much I had never seen before. Meanwhile. the three of you will never have  to see me drink ever again. Eightteen months of sobriety later and by the grace of God, I’m still here with you. Sober. I’m not a perfect mom. You weren’t born into a perfect, happy family. You were born into a tornado of us.

But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Those experiences happened for a reason. The reason being that I will always remember what it was like, how awful it felt. Without all of that I wouldn’t have gotten sober. You would have a drunk mom. A dead mom.

9D736614-07FD-48BA-91FA-D189AED90E5FIn sobriety I really got to know you and your two partners in crime. Your goofy dance in the kitchen while we’re blasting Taylor Swift. The sound of your laughter as Maeve and you jump from bed to bed. The way you melt into my shoulder as I carry you from the car to your bed. Your squeaky little voice singing, ” LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS…” over and over and over and over and over again. The way you wake up every morning and demand to know where your sisters are (still asleep, but that’s not going to stop you) because you are ready to play and start the day. You love horses and you watch Spirit on Netflix 80,000,000 times a day. I can recite every episode. Go ahead. Ask me. I”ll do it.E4BF5C6B-D12D-483F-AD8F-39CBA3BF4E0A

I love the super long conversations to yourself and others that makes zero sense, because we have NO clue what you’re saying. I constantly had to ask your sisters to translate for me, because I didn’t speak Lucie. It’s more complicated than French or Spanish. You can’t take a class and learn it.

You’re my daughter. You never stop talking. I’m sure its payback. My own mother used to put the phone down and walk away as I was talking to her on the phone. I talked so much I didn’t even realize. You and I both could talk anyone’s ear off.

When things get crazy and the three of you are demaning my attention, you always run up to me and say, ” MOMMY I TALK TO YOU.” “Fine, I won’t talk to you, relax Goosie Girl.” “ NO. I WANNA TALK TO YOU. I WANNA TALK TO YOU NOW.”

” MOMMY. MAEVE HIT ME. I HIT HER BACK.”

” MOMMY BERRIES. I WANT A BOWL OF BERRIES. NOW. NOW. NOW!”

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A few days ago you were out like a light in the car after we picked up Maeve. I had gotten her one of those weird Kinder Egg things. Maeve tried to crack it open and before she could speak another word, there you were, wide awake…” DID SOMEBODY SAY KINDER EGG?”

You used to swear a lot. Thank God we worked on that before you start preschool. I imagine we would be getting several complaints about the three year old exclaiming,” HOLY SHIT.” all day long.

You like to lick the shopping carts in Target. I tried to stop you once. It didn’t go well.

D6786A90-55E5-4776-9F38-C92C6F52DF07Once, when you were two, we were at the pediatrician for your well visit. You were wearing just a diaper. I tried hard, but I couldn’t get you to stop rolling around, half naked, on the linoleum floor. The Dr walked in, her first response was, ” Oh sweetie, you don’t want to do that. There’s germs. That’s yucky.” She told me I should make you stop. I laughed. There’s no stopping you little Luce. I bent down to pick you up and you ninja kicked my torso. The dr looked at me and said, ” Oh. I see. She’s pretty wild, huh?” I said, “ Yeah- so you want to give it a try? Good luck Doc.”

 

Wild. Silly. Loud. Confident. Loving. Determined. Smart. Snuggly. Adventerous. Independent. Immaginative.

So many wonderful things.

You radiate happiness. You have left such a joyous imprint on my heart. So much so that when you’re with your dad, it feels like I’m missing a limb until you come home. You’ve  taught me so much about my own heart and my role as a mother. You won’t grow up with memories of drunk mommy. You will grow up remembering running in the yard with the dog, You will remember all the secret hiding spots you and your sisters have found when playing hide and seek. You will remember swimming with your cousins and jumping on trampolines. You’ll remember Mommy showing up, being present- loving you inside and out.C80D2E70-A427-4CB5-AA56-CAF1602A2FA7

Last night you fell asleep in my bed. When I was done wrapping your presents, I came in quietly. As soon as I pulled the blanket up, your eyes opened and you said, “Mommy, I hold you.”.

i will hold you forever, my little one.

Happy 3rd Birthday Lucie.

 

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The Birth of Happiness

I don’t claim to be an expert about much, but I do know a thing or two about being pregnant. There was a period of time where I was just straight up pregnant 24/7. Love your baby? Here! Here’s another one! And so on and so on.

I’m exhausted even thinking about it. 

I’m not one of those glowing, amazing pregnant ladies. When I’m pregnant I turn into a 5″5, 180 lb, hormonal monster from hell.

I throw fits. I cry. I eat a lot.

It occured to me that many of the symptoms I experience during pregnancy have A LOT of similarities with early sobriety. I hit the 9 month mark of sobriety, and I can’t help but to reflect…

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First Month of Pregnancy: Oh, my GOD. I can’t believe this! There’s a tiny life growing inside of me! The future is so bright! I want to tell everyone! I’m scared, but excited. I wish I could have a beer right now.

First Month of Sobriety: Oh, my GOD. I’m changing my life forever. I’m scared but excited about my future as a sober person. There is a hope growing in me that I can have a better life…but if you offered me a drink right now, I’m not sure I could say no.

Second Month of Pregnancy: Yo. WTF just happened? WHY AM I SO BLOATED? WHY AM I CRYING AND THEN LAUGHING AND THEN CRYING AGAIN? WHY CAN”T I STOP PUKING? WAS THIS A HORRIBLE DECISION? Of, course not. It’s the best decision I”ve ever made. I love this baby so, so much. WHY AM I SMELLING MY HUSBANDS FEET FROM UPSTAIRS WHEN I’M DOWNSTAIRS? I HATE PEOPLE! And chicken. I HATE CHICKEN. I’ll never eat chicken ever again.

Second Month of Sobriety: My body hates me. I took away the one thing that made it happy. I’m bloated and gross, because I have replaced alcohol with double stuffed oreos. My ass is fat. I can’t stop crying. I can’t stop smiling. I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. I can hear my husband chewing three feet away from me. EVERYTHING ANNOYS ME, SO STOP CHEWING SO CLOSE TO MY GODDAMNED EARS! I think I deserve an entire bag of twizzlers right now.

Third Month of Pregnancy: How long does this whole pregnancy last? Because, I’m over it. I feel like shit. I hate everyone. I miss my jeans. I miss sleep. I KEEP FARTING.

Third month of Sobriety- YAAAAS! 90 days! I worked so hard for this. Can I relax now? I’m tired. How long do I have to continue going to meetings everyday? Can’t I just stay home and watch Netflix? Look at me. I’m doing it! I didn’t think I could go one day without wine, let alone three months.

IMG_9071Fourth Month of Pregnancy: Am I showing? I’m showing right? That’s not just a food baby, is it? How much weight am I going to gain? My dr said I need to slow down, because I’m eating too many donuts.

Fourth Month in Sobriety: DID YOU HEAR I’M SOBER? BIG NEWS! I’M SOBER. CAN’T YOU TELL? Can you overdose on sugar? Sugar is my main food group. No, I’m not pregnant. No, that’s not a beer belly. That’s my sobriety stomach. Full of brownines and happiness. IMG_7283

Fifth Month of Pregnancy: I think I felt the baby move. I’m tired. I’m excited. I want to buy every single baby thing that ever existed. Are there any other movies about pregnancy and birth on Netflix? I watched ” The Business of Being Born” ten times. I want a natural birth. No drugs. I’m so strong. I’m going to be a mother. Shit, I cant sleep at all. Too much to think about.

Fifth Month of Sobriety: I’m reaching out to others. I want to stay sober and help others stay sober. I”ve watched every documentary on addiction that the internet has to offer. No drinking. No drugs. Every day is a blessing. Ok, not everyday, but I know that I have the ability to make it a good day if I work my steps, reach out to my peeps, focus on myself so I can be the best version of me for my family.

Sixth month of Pregnancy: I had three slushies today from Sonic. Go ahead. Judge me. I dare you. There’s no way I am prepared to be a mother. I don’t think I can do this. I’m not strong enough. I just want to nap and eat chips all day long. What if the baby hates me? I’ve already washed all of her clothes and set up her room 18,000 times. I’m still farting like a champ.

Sixth Month of Sobriety: SIX MONTHS? ARE YOU SERIOUS? WHOAH. That’s a long ass time. I feel alive. Finally. I”m scared. What if I’m not strong enough to do this forever though? I have replaced alcohol with red bull and it makes me gassy. Fart, fart, fart.IMG_7198

Seventh Month of Pregnancy: I’m almost done! I’m almost done! I’m almost…FUCK. I thought I was at 30 weeks. I”m only at 29. I”M GOING TO BE PREGNANT FOREVER. I can’t shave my legs. I can’t see anything past this massive belly. I bought sneakers that you can slip on, because I can’t tie my own shoes anymore. I”m tired dude.

Seventh Month of Sobriety: I’m almost to a year, right? It’s just around the corner! Oh. Wait. I have a few months to go. I shouldn’t be focused on the days or years, because this is my reality for the rest of my life. Not just one year. Not two years. Not just a decade. This is forever. I bought myself new shoes, because I’ve been working so hard at being present and sober, I deserve a treat!

Eighth Month of Pregnancy: Whatever.

Eighth Month of Sobriety: One day at a time.

Ninth Month of Pregnancy: Can I do this? Was I crazy thinking I was qualified to be a mother to someone? What if I screw her up? I can’t do this. Honestly, I don’t care if I have to take tons of drugs or zero drugs during delivery-I just want this damn thing out of me. It could happen today! I could go into labor today. Am I prepared? WHAT AM I DOING? This is terrifying. And exhilerating. I think I’ll eat a cheeseburger. I can’t wait until I can drink champagne again.

Ninth Month of Sobriety: I’m sober. I’m going through a lot right now, but I find strength in my sobriety. I know I’m not alone. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know that I’m on the right path. Nine months is nothing compared to a lifetime, but it’s still worth celebrating. Every day sober is a day worthy of celebration. I celebrate life, happiness, sobriety, my family, and my friends with copious amounts of carbs and caffeinated beverages. Strangely enough, I don’t want champagne.

 

The miracle of life. The miracle of sobriety. J3TsK%dTSVSS+ljHoOiEvg

I know you are but what am I?

There seems to be an identity crisis going on here. I don’t know if crisis is the right word to use but, I’m trying to figure some shit out. Some days, I look at myself and the familiarity is comforting. Other times, I yearn for a map to lead me to where I need to be. Where I should be going. A guide out of my own personal hell of self pity and addiction.

Before.

Prior to sobriety I had always hated my body. I’d change my clothes 30 times every morning to try to find an outfit that would make me look skinny. I didn’t have confidence in myself. I thought that it was my job to keep my family and friends happy. If I failed I was devastated. As I got older those things started to haunt me day after day. I hated those feelings. They hurt too much. Fuck that. I wanted to be numb and feel absolutely nothing.

Someone introduced me to alcohol and the rest is history. Alcohol was the solution for everything. I didn’t start off drinking like a fish, that would come later. But the door had started to open and my brain invited addiction in like it was a long lost love seeking shelter.

Beer. Vodka. Tequila. Wine. My new besties.

148118_662222628867_5249277_n

*Hey, check out those DEAD eyes… knock, knock! No one’s there. Also, no clue who that blonde was, but she seems to be having a good time* 

 

Alcohol made me feel pretty. My insecurities washed away in a shot glass of whiskey. I felt confident. I flirted with disaster and bad boys. I laughed loud and passed out quick. I took shots of vodka from my water bottle during third period on a Monday. It wasn’t an everyday thing, but the more I drank the better I felt. I invited friends over and raid the alcohol cabinet again and again. I was also pretty dumb, because I decided to replace in the freezer with water. Water freezes. I told my parents it must have been the men outside gardening. They must have come into the kitchen and pounded it all without a chaser.

I used my fake ID daily during my freshman year of college. It was totally normal. I’d start pre-gaming house before the bar or party. I’d put my makeup on while drinking old style. I felt beautiful. I’d dance with strangers and take the shots they offered me.

21370849_10102229351533937_7585698918920757950_n* I’d like to call this my faux mug shot. I’ve never been arrested (Thank you sweet baby Jesus), but I imagine this is kind of what it would be like. There’s nothing behind those eyes*

One night I was talking to my friend and she asked me what I was doing. I replied that I was in my dorm room drinking. She said that drinking alone is the start of something bad.

I stopped telling people what I was doing. I became a masterful drunk. I’d tell my friends how happy I was to be out and drinking beer with them. I’d leave out the part where I had already drank four glasses of wine and two beers. There was also a strong chance that I had popped some random pills too.

Whatever. Didn’t care. I felt wanted, smart, clever, funny and talented. If it meant killing my liver in the process, so be it.

 

The next morning those euphoric feelings disappeared. They were replaced with shame, guilt, confusion, pain, heartbreak and a slew of other horrible feelings. I’d cope with all of that by drinking more. Meanwhile, my self hatred grew and grew. Alcohol fed the beast inside of me.

After becoming a mother my drinking started to spiral. I believed whole heartedly that alcohol made me a better mom. Want to color? Sure! Want to do a puzzle? Sure! Want to bake cookies? Absolutely! In bed at night I’d tear myself down piece by piece. What kind of shitty person drinks to hang out with their kids? Only a piece of shit. I was a piece of shit. I didn’t deserve happiness. I deserved a difficult life (all by my own doings). I accepted that I would never find peace.

17553882_10101959875815437_9215602668637248072_n*Oh, wow look at you, you little emo/moody wino. Still with the dead eyes.*

In the back of my mind I knew that I was an alcoholic. I knew that without a solution that my alcoholism would be fatal. I fully intended to drink my life away until death. I thought my family would be better off without me. I was terrified of messing up my kids. When those emotions crept in I would pick up the bottle again and again.

 

What a hot ass mess.

 

Present

I wake up and fall to my knees. I pray to a God that I had long dismissed as a myth. I ask my God to help me stay sober today and help me follow His will, not mine. I don’t know what His will for me is, but every single day tiny miracles happen in my life. I don’t fear being alone anymore. I just get on my knees and repeat over and over again. I cook my daughters breakfast and we laugh over silly stuff the baby did. I’m slowly learning to love myself. I’m present. I see myself in pictures and I see the face of a girl who finally knows her worth. I know that I deserve happiness, peace and joy. None of that would be possible if I was still pounding drinks every day.

46836961_10102749939970537_4338203563537727488_n*I didn’t get sober for my girls. They inspired me to get sober, but I got sober for me so that they could have the mom they deserve*

All of that shit is awesome, right? Yeah. It’s amazing. I work so damn hard everyday to maintain the serenity I so badly need in my life.

But it’s kinda weird too. I have moments where I miss being a miserable drunk. I know that’s crazy, but getting drunk means I won’t have to feel anything. I’m a lazy ass person. Super lazy. It’s challenging to have to work on myself twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Drunk Kate didn’t have to do anything but sit on the damn couch and watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Sober Kate has to pray, read, call my sponsor, embrace the fellowship of others, use healthy coping skills, be present and be accountable. I share my sober story through this blog, because I need to be honest and transparent with others in my life. No more secrets. I mean, I’m probably going to lie to you if you ask me if I’m wearing the same pants that I’ve been sleeping in for four days while at kindergarten drop off.

 

Of course these aren’t the same pants. I’m super mom. I do 70,000 loads of laundry every morning. With a smile on my face. ***** ALL LIES *****

The pants are comfy man, so lay off.

 

I haven’t been sober for years and years. I’m still learning how to navigate life without wine, sometimes I’m pretty good at it, sometimes I suck at it. It’s progress, not perfection. One day at a time. ONE. Not the next 90 years of my life. Just today. This one day.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I do know this…

Every single moment of every day it gets better and better. Every feeling, good or bad, brings me closer and closer to peace. Just by feeling them, staring them in the face, instead of ignoring them with a PBR tall boy.

I still yell at my kids. I still have road rage (bc no one in Michigan knows how to drive apparently…). I’m still selfish and loud. I’m still jerk to the most important people in my life- but you know what? I’m sober. It’s only through sobriety that I can grow and learn to forgive and accept forgivness for my actions and those of others. I pray for complete strangers and I feel Gods presence in the quiet moments of the day.

 

If the old me read this, I would probably laugh. A life without alcohol was not a possiblity. I couldn’t even imagine it.

 

I am so grateful to be able to share this journey with others as I grow and learn to love the new me. We don’t do it alone.

 

One day at a time.

 

46853629_10102750615506757_2530707130097336320_n* OMG THERE’S LIFE BEHIND MY EYES*