The times I let my daughter down
A few nights ago, I was putting Parker to bed, when she began to cry. She told me she missed back when I didn’t work so much and when I wasn’t always on my computer.
“I liked when you used to play games with me instead of writing all the time,” she said.
These words were a shot to the heart and brought me to my knees. I felt awful. What was it that she missed? What was different?
I thought about it. I used to lay around in the afternoons, wine in hand, playing card games and coloring with her. I would sit down for a board game anytime she wanted, but always with a bottle of wine beside me. I would lounge around on the couch next to her, with a movie on, nursing my hangover on Saturday mornings. I would lay in bed and listen to her read books, half a bottle of wine deep, sometimes leaving her alone to attempt to read by herself for a few minutes, while I ran downstairs to get myself another glass. I used to do these things that felt like I was around more, but I was not ever fully present. I was never really there with her, even though she thought I was. I was either drunk or hungover - lost in my sadness, fear and anxiety.
Now, I spend my time so differently. I am not always there right at her beck and call or simply out of guilt. I am always found writing on my computer, and when I am not, I am on my feet constantly. When the kids have a movie on, it is rare for me to sit down and watch it. To me that is a perfect time to escape to my writing nook or get other chores around the house done.
Ultimately, my writing has become a lifeline to me. It allows me an outlet to release. To breathe. To escape and to just be alone. The introspective time I get when I am within my thoughts is clarifying and nourishing to my soul. But my kids don’t see that.
As my daughter spoke to me that night, I took a moment to contemplate what she was saying and I could see it from her perspective. I am in fact not always that present, even in sobriety. Seeing her so distraught brought me to my knees for a second. Ultimately, I know that I am better off these days than the way I used to be. I know that my daughter will not fully understand all that I have endured for many, many years, nor will she be able to appreciate this journey until she is much older. I am momentarily caught off guard by her tears, but I forgive myself.
I am grateful for this reminder that I need to find time to be more present for my children. Instead of focusing on my long to-do list or thinking about the past and traveling to the future, I should sit down more often with them, put my phone away and close my computer and play that card game that they want me to play. Make time for family movie night. Because even though I am sober and not drinking anymore, they still need me. And being stuck behind my computer, escaping into my own world is not always healthy.
I apologized to Parker and told her I will set aside some time for her. But I know that this is part of the process of sobriety. I will not be hard on myself and judgemental towards either of us about this learning experience. I give myself grace and move forward.
I am here to recognize all of these feelings and I am a better mom for it.