Twelve steps to happy hour…

Habits are hard to change. They become imbedded in our bodies. Muscle memory. That’s just how it is. My habits were out of control.

Cooking dinner? Here! Have a glass of wine!

Putting away laundry? Here! Have two glasses of wine!

Cleaning the house? Here! Have the whole damn bottle!

 

I was cooking dinner the other night and I had the strongest urge to have a glass of wine. I felt like I didn’t know how to cook without it. I was folding laundry and my body just ached to get buzzed so it wouldn’t suck so much.

 

Bad habits are incredibly hard to change. I decided to quit drinking and go sober for one month. My relationship with alcohol had become incredibly desperate and dangerous. I could make up a reason, any reason at all, why I deserved to have a drink. It was easy. I could have a glass and block out my postpartum anxiety like magic.

 

It was very easy to slip and slide into self medicating mentality. It starts with one glass.

 

But it’s never just one glass, is it?

 

I don’t like committing to things at all. I like to have excuses. I like to have a way out if I need one. I need to be in control. But, by my second day of sobriety, I realized I couldn’t do this on my own. I couldn’t commit to making this change all by myself. I needed help. I didn’t even realize how much help I needed, but holy shit did I need it.

My husband half jokingly asked me if I was going to start going to AA meetings. Normally, I would have laughed. I did not laugh this time. Only two days into this whole sober living thing, I realized that my relationship with alcohol was toxic. Slowly turning me into a shell of a human being, hiding behind drunken smiles and laughter.

I couldn’t do this on my own.

So, seven days ago I walked into a room in a local church, scared shitless. I was scared to know that I was going to have to face my demons right then and there, without the cozy warmth of a buzz. As I walked in, a woman rushed over to me and asked me if this was my first meeting. Still skeptical, I said yes. She immediately hugged me and told me how proud she was of me. A woman that I had never met before opened her arms and heart up to me. The tears started pouring out of me. It didn’t stop with her. Every single woman in that room introduced themselves and hugged me. I felt wrapped up in the love that was being poured all over me. I felt something else too.

Support. I felt supported.

Within that first hour, I cried, laughed, listened and embraced the women who had just opened up their lives for me. I walked into that meeting thinking that I was just going to see if I could gain some insight so that I could have a healthier relationship with alcohol. Because, apparently I believed I could have a nice, clean relationship with booze. I figured I would learn a few tips on how to stop drinking after two drinks, and gain some control back in the relationship. I had no idea that I was going to fall to my knees in humility and admit that this wasn’t just a bad relationship.

This is an addiction.

 

For the past five years, I’ve jokingly portrayed myself as the wino mom. Almost every single night I would open up a new bottle of wine and drink the whole damn thing. No problem. I told myself that I could stop whenever I wanted to. I told myself I had a high tolerance. I told myself that it was normal to buy extra wine and hide it in random places throughout the house. I had hundreds of excuses as to why this was normal and that I deserved it.

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I told my birth doula that I couldn’t wait to have champagne after the baby was born. She said, ” You could probably have one glass if you really wanted one.” I replied, ” No. You don’t get it. I don’t want a glass, I want the entire bottle.”

That was the beginning down the path I’ve been drunkenly crawling through for years.

 

As I listened to these women share their stories of sobriety, accomplishments and failures, I could feel my guarded wall slowly breaking down. Slowly but surely. I related to these stories. I have felt the same things.

I found more than just a meeting of women discussing their sobriety, I found a community. A huge, unwavering, welcoming, understanding community. I didn’t even realize how long I had been searching for the peace I felt while sitting in that meeting. The weight of the world was finally off my shoulders.

I could finally admit that this is a huge problem in my life. I could finally admit that I had been lying to myself for years. I could finally admit that I couldn’t do this on my own.

Complete strangers were willing to tell me their deepest, darkest secrets to help me realize that I wasn’t alone. My heart was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. After everyone else had spoken, they asked me if I wanted to share anything. My heart was racing, because I knew exactly what I needed to say.

 

” Hi. My name is Kate and I’m an alcoholic.”

I let out a deep, long breath and felt lighter than I have felt in years. The first step.

I left that meeting with a new sense of purpose, a new reason to be honest with myself and others. The next day I decided to go again. And again. And again. Pretty soon the women started joking that I really got around the block, with all the meetings I was attending. In truth, admitting that I’m an addict was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. But, attending those meetings made me feel so happy and so alive. I started to look forward to it. Every day around five pm, I start counting down the minutes until my next meeting. My happy hour. 

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I can only handle one day at a time, but instead of handling it with a box of wine, I’m handling it with faith, strength, and sharing with others. I know that I could very easily fuck this up. I’m very aware of that. It isn’t easy being sober, it’s a constant battle. I am ready for the fight and I know that I won’t have to fight it alone.

I left that first meeting as an entirely different person. There was the wine drinking, shit talking Kate from before, and now there’s the sober, but still shit talking, Kate.

It feels amazing. This is my new normal. I’m fighting for myself so my children have a mother, so my husband has a wife, so my parents have their daughter back, and a million other reasons. This is probably the best thing I have ever done for myself. I’m going to fight this shit day in and day out, but I’m gaining the skills to kick the hell out of it.

 

One day at a time.  Serenity.

Money makes the world go ’round…

I’m lucky. I grew up with four parents (my parents divorced, and soon after I was given two more parents, whom I love) who made sure I had everything I needed. Clothes, food, roof over our head, Dr appointments, tutition for dance and music classes…anything I needed. I was raised in two homes and the overall theme was that family, friends, love, and the fact that money doesn’t make you happy.

But, everything I saw on tv or heard on the radio led me to believe that differently. If I didn’t have those se7ven jeans I wouldn’t fit it in. If my makeup came from CVS it meant I was cheap. Cool kids bought make up stuff at Sephora. I needed to have UGGS, because everyone had UGGS.

See that guy in that jewlery commercial? He bought the woman in his life a ring, and now they’ll have eternal happiness. How about those women in the bra commercials? You will never achieve great joy in your life if your bra doesn’t have sparkles and padding for a push up.

How the hell do I go about raising my kids to know that the size of your bank account doesn’t determine your happiness?

 

Commercial after commercial, all the same,

” My new Barbie has a tutu that changes colors, and she sings too!”

” This fluffy pillow is ALSO a big stuffed animal. You’ll have someone to snuggle with all night long!”

” You’ll have so much fun doing this 3,000 piece lego set!”

 

I remember Easter with my dads side of my family. We  would go to brunch at a beautiful restaurant, right on the long island sound. We would gather together and spend time on the beach, my cousins chasing each other near the waves. Seagulls would fly past, and we would worry that they might poop on our heads. We dug our toes in the cool April sand as we watched the waves crash. I remember the smell of the sea.

I didn’t buy that experience. I lived it.

I remember years and years of Thanksgiving dinners where we all held hands and sang a prayer over our food. After everyone was done eating, we would gather in my Aunt and Uncles living room and proceed to put on our annual family talent show. We would sing, dance, tell blonde jokes and laugh our asses off.

I didn’t write a check for those memories. I was there.

 

When I was in my early twenties, I spend night after night going to auditions in Chicago. I would sing, dance, get call backs (once in awhile…) and eventually get cast in a show. A show that I believed in. I didn’t audition or become a member of the cast looking for a big pay day. I did it because it brings me joy. Performing on stage was my passion, and it didn’t matter if I made any money off of it.

You can’t put a price on that.

 

I remember the first time I held my baby sister and my baby brother. I’m twelve years older than them, and the love that was oozing out of me was priceless. It was love at first sight with the both of them. They looked so little and squishy, wrapped up in their newborn blankets.

 

Priceless.

 

I remember dancing to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album at my mom and stepdads house. I would pop the cd in and spend hours twirling and leaping throughout the living room. Dancing like a fool did the trick. Instant happiness.

Happiness can’t be bought.

 

Standing in line with my mother waiting to audition for American Idol, season two. We had such an adventure. We waited in line until the middle of the morning for our wrist bands, we were brought to room after room and told how the process would go. I was scared shitless, but I had my mom by my side. We laughed at the craziness of it all, and even though I got cut, the memories made with my mom will last for the rest of my life.

 

BAM. Cash can’t replicate that experience.

 

Basically, what I”m trying to say is… none of my memories throughout my life were happy memories, because they weren’t bought. They were in the moment, blissful contentment.

 

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I spent hours online looking up expensive strollers. My child would only have the best of the best. So what if the stroller at $900? MY CHILD WILL LOVE IT.

My child was an infant who could give two shits about what kind of stroller she was being pushed around in. We would take walks around the block and her giggle warmed my heart. She would ” oooh” and “aahhh” over the flowers, trees, the kids at the playground. I didn’t get that $900 stroller. We still had a great time.

 

I can’t keep up with the Joneses. I don’t want to. I don’t have an expensive car, I don’t buy my kids expensive crap that they’ll toss tomorrow. I want my kids to remember playing with each other in the basement. I want them to remember sliding down the slide, while screaming with glee. I want them to take in all of the nature at our local nature center, while we enjoy hiking together.

The more time I spend sitting at my computer, the more I realize I have instant access to almost everything, with the click of the ” purchase” button. If I want it, I want it right now. It will make me so happy to have it sooner rather than later. I demand prompt delivery for my new *whatever it is*.

I’m not stupid. I know money makes the world go ’round, but I will fight for my children, my family, to know grow with the knowledge that happiness starts here, with us, with our life experiences.

Happiness comes from spilling chocolate milk and giggling while it dribbles down the table. Happiness comes from watching my children run in circles, chasing each other with glee and determination. Happiness comes from sitting by my husband while enjoying a bonfire in our back yard.

 

Can’t buy me that kind of love.

 

 

Here’s a little treat…

 

Raising my daughters in the era of #metoo

I wasn’t shocked when the Harvy Weinstein scandal first opened up. Men in Hollywood and every other hood, abuse their previliges and power. They look at women as dissmisive and easy to use. I figured this was a normal kind of thing to go on in the media. Whatever. I’m thirty-one and I live in Michigan, this didn’t affect me at all.

 

Until it did.

 

I remember first hearing about the #metoo movement on the news. I sat down to watch and started to realize this was bigger than me. Bigger than you. So many brave, strong women moved out of their comfort zone and spoke up. They spoke up about verbal, emotional, and sexual assault. Suddenly, the Weinstein started to mean something to me.

I saw my friends facebook and twitter write their own #metoo story and I felt shameful for ever dismissing this epidemic. It reaches women here and there and everywhere. I can’t count the amount of #metoos I saw before I realized this might have happened to #metoo.

I had an experience during my freshman year of college. When I thought about it, it made me feel disgusting. I just pushed it back until I basically stopped thinking about it. I went to a party, I drank some alcohol, and a kind  gentlemen offered to walk me back to my dorm. I had been puking from the party and I was touched that someone cared enough to make sure I made it back ok. He didn’t just walk me back to my dorm, he entered my dorm, uninvited, and tucked me in. Looking back, he did all of those nice things so it would be easier to take advantage of me. He forced his lips onto my lips, and I remember thinking, ” This is not what I want, I’m trapped. I’m trapped.”

He kept pushing and pushing, and eventually I just ran out into the bathroom and violently puked. Puking probably saved me from an extreme sexual trauma, but luckily my body took over. It didn’t go very far, but it still made me feel dirty. I also felt guilty, because I had been drinking at a party. I should have been smarter. We always blame ourselves.

Although my story is very small compared to the stories of rape and abuse, I posted #metoo on facebook.

 

I lay awake at night wondering if my daughters will someday post #metoo. I’m terrified that at some point in their life, they will be hurt or abused. It churns in my stomach, it clenches my fists.

Raising children is the single, most difficult task for many of us. I want to raise them to be strong, smart and kind. I would blame myself if they found themselves in a similar situation. It would break my heart.

I’m doing my best to talk to them about their bodies and their minds. I tell them no one, not even mommy or daddy, is allowed to touch them if they don’t want anyone to. I tell them that they are strong before I tell them their beautiful. I them to value their strength above their beauty. I am trying to arm them with enough self-worth to make it in this sad, scary world that we live in.

But, I can’t protect them forever. They will have to make their own way someday. All I can do is repeat over and over again how much value they are in this world, and that no man or woman can take that away from them.

 

#metoo unites us all in recognizing a problem that stretches over women, chidren and even men. No change has ever happened over night, but we have to keep pushing and educating our children. We have to.

 

IMG_0241

There were three in the bed and the mother said, “Get your dirty butt off of my face right now, before I send you back to your room. In the dark. Alone.”

Ah, co-sleeping with your babies. What a special, treasured time. I read book after book about breastfeeding and co-sleeping, and how those two things were crucial to having a close, bonding relationship with my child. So, of course, with baby #1, that’s exactly what I did.

Never mind the fact that I had just had a traumatic emergency C-section. Never mind, that my body was all discombobulated and I was dripping milk like a cow. I HAD TO CO SLEEP OR I WOULD HAVE FAILED AS A PARENT. We gave it a shot. She slept like an angel. She breastfed like a champ. I, on the other hand, got zero sleep, my boobs were exploding and I was terrified if I put her in the rock & play that she would surely grow up hating me and probably have a lower IQ.

First time parents are a real hoot.

Then we brought home baby #2. Her first night home was when my brain and body dove head first into the wonderful world of postpartum anxiety and OCD. I was terrified to put her down. I was terrified to smoosh her. I was terrified to breastfeed her. I felt guilt that my eldest had to share me now, and blah blah blah.

So, I put that kid in the rock & play and said, ” You’re going to have to just figure this out. I’ll feed you and all that, but seriously, you’re just going to need to figure out how to put yourself to sleep. I was losing my mind and I need at least four hours per night here, kid.”

Onto baby #3…hahaha. She came out independent, and she also was put in the rock & play at a few days old, while I selfishly grabbed some sleep on my own.

 

So, all my kids did the whole sleeping thing differently. Here’s the thing…they are my heart. We are all so very, very connected. We love each other and I spend many afternoons wondering where these beautiful children came from. They’re all kind of smart…I think…

They’re all healthy. My second and third kids started sleeping through the night WAY earlier than my first.

 

My first child that STILL finds her way into my bed, but now we have mommy cuddles and it’s a snuggle fest every night.

It’s taken me literally this long to finally tell myself that my younger two are going to turn out just fine even though I said F THAT to co-sleeping and exclusively breastfeeding. They’re alive, healthy and happy. That’s my job and I’m doing a damn good job.

 

I’m mad that I put all that pressure on myself to be this perfect, attached parent.

 

Now my version of being the perfect attached parent, is when I have two kids in the shopping cart, and one dangling out of the Ergo as I check the expiration dates on milk at the grocery store.

 

I’ve also been considering putting a tent in the back yard and tell them they can go camping every night… but it’s the middle of winter. That might be a little cruel.

 

Raise your hands up warrior moms, raise your hands up. Co-sleeping or not, we are some bomb ass mothers plowing through this crazy thing called parenthood.

 

(But I swear to God, if a stinky butt makes its way to my face in the middle of the night tonight, I’m leaving.)

I took a deep breath.

” I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am I am I am” -Sylvia Plath

 

I am blissful. I am beautiful. I am bountiful. I am alive. I am a warrior. I am brave. I am strong. I am loyal. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter.  I am a sister.

 

I am worthy of all the gifts the world has to offer. I am.IMG_2554*I got this tattoo for my 31st birthday to remind myself of all of these things*

 

I am. I am. I am.

 

Motherhood: The Land of Lonely

When you announce your pregnancy, everyone is excited. Everyone has a million things to tell you about parenting. People want to express their feelings on feeding your baby, how your baby will sleep, whether you should vaccinate or not and everything else you can imagine. People love to tell you how wonderful it is to hold your amazing, precious baby skin to skin. People love to tell you how beautiful the relationship between a child and a mother is.

All of these things are true. It is amazing to give birth. It is amazing to hold your baby. It is amazing to bring your baby home and turn your house into a home. There’s lots of awesome things that happen the second you become a parent.

But, no one prepares you for the lonely. How could they? If we all sat around talking about how isolation as a mother is completely debilitating, no one would ever reproduce.

 

I have a hard time committing to anything. I like options. I like an exit strategy. If there’s something I need to give myself fully to, I have to go big or go home. If I don’t, I”ll end up running in the other direction. Getting married and pregnant within three months is a perfect example. I was twenty-five years old when I took that positive pregnancy test.

TWENTY-FIVE. Literally, still a baby myself. I didn’t realize how much of the world I had yet to see. I didn’t realize how every single priority in my life would change. I had no idea that I would lose and gain friends over and over again.

It’s hard to be a mother when most of your friends aren’t. I totally get it. If I didn’t have kids, I would still be living in Chicago. I would still be doing theater, my first love. I would still think about my future and how I could leave my mark on the world.

Now, I realize raising my children to be decent and honest human beings is how I’m going to leave my mark. It’s going to be a very large mark if Maeve has anything to do with it. ( Love my little wild child.)

 

How can you possibly explain that to someone who’s not yet a mother? I used to sit in the dark, breastfeeding my kid, scrolling through my Facebook feed religiously. My baby would be farting on my leg, while I would see pictures of my friends out on the town doing shots of Jameson and dancing to Snoop Dog. My heart would turn green with envy. I wanted to be there with them. I wanted to experience life. I wanted to travel. I wanted to make mistakes. I wanted to hike. I wanted to cover my body in tattoos, reminding myself of my journey. I wanted to be able to sit outside in the sun while reading a book.

 

Instead, I was knee deep in poop, barf, and stretch marks. Sometimes, I would sit on my couch, tears rolling down my face, baby on my boob, just wishing I could go out. Wishing I could live the life I led before kids. As fast as those feelings would come, they would almost immediately be replaced with guilt. Over and over again.

I told myself to shut up and stop whining. I had a beautiful, healthy baby. I had a home. I had a car. I had no reason to feel sorry for myself.

 

Except, I had no one to tell this to. I couldn’t pick up the phone and call my person. I couldn’t call anyone. I got married young and started my family young. I made the choices I made, but leaving my independent life was the hardest.

 

You’re probably thinking, ” Join a mom group! Go to story time at the library! Go here, go there, just do it!”

 

Yeah…um… ok. I suffered for so long with the postpartum shit and when you’re going through that, the last thing you want to do is go to a freaking mom group. I didn’t want to sit in a circle, sing some songs, and compare myself to every perfect mom there. I wanted to sit here, in my house, feeling sorry for myself.

Even five years later, I still feel sorry for myself sometimes.

 

They say it takes a village. It does. Especially, when you’ve moved to a new state with no family or friends. That’s not to say that I haven’t made friends. I have. I have made amazing, wonderful, generous, kind friends. I’m SO grateful for that. Most of these friends have kids, so they get it. They understand that you have to leave at 7:30 pm, because you don’t fuck around with bedtime. That shit needs to be on schedule. They understand when you can’t make it out to lunch, because your baby pooped all over you.

 

I’ve had a few villages. Some of them turned out to suck. Some of them were awesome, but they weren’t the friends I grew up with.

 

They weren’t the people who knew about my first kiss, my parents divorce, my dreams of being an actress, my eating disorder, my love of the ocean and my hatred of camping. I missed those people. My people.

 

It gets better. I wouldn’t have believed that a few years ago, but it does. At some point, I took my lazy ass out. I went to playgroups. I went to family yoga. I forced myself to introduce myself and my kids to every mom I could make eye contact with. I came out of the darkness of lonely with a pretty awesome circle of friends. They’re funny, understanding, kind, generous, willing and honest.

That’s hard to come by. I hate saying this, because it’s so cliche, but I feel blessed.

 

There’s still an empty hole where my past life used to live. A life where staying up until 4 am doing karaoke was normal. A life with keggers and nachos. ( I did throw a kegger this past year. And yes, I did keg stands, because I’m THE COOLEST MOM EVER.) A life where things were so much more simple.

 

It’s a grieving process, letting all of that go. It also takes a significant amount of time, love and patience to keep those special people in your life.

 

I’m still grieving, but I’m hopeful. I used to think it was black and white. Friends with no kids, friends with kids.

 

Life with friends is so much better than a life without. I’ll take them anyway I can. My village is not the same, it’s not complete, but it’s made up of people who love and care about me… even if I show up with my shirt inside out and someones poop on my arm.

 

(Side note: I listened to this the entire time I wrote this blog. I have a flair for the dramatics…)

 

 

(Last side note: Don’t get it twisted, I’m definitely an NSYNC fan. FOREVER AND ALWAYS… but this song cracks me up and I felt it necessary to share.)