For the first four years of my son’s life I tried unsuccessfully to stay sober.  I spent my first Mother’s Day alone – after I had decided I could have ‘just one drink’ the day before Mother’s Day – and I spent my son’s first  birthday in an alcohol treatment center.  Not long after and not surprisingly, his father filed for divorce and was given full custody. I was awarded visitations, but they were contingent on my staying away from alcohol.

After the divorce, I could only manage a few months sober at a time. A pattern emerged in which I’d see him regularly for a few months, relapse, and then only be in his life sporadically until I could piece my life back together. It wasn’t until he was four years old that I finally made it through my first continuous year of recovery.

At the time, he obviously didn’t understand why he lived with his dad and only stayed with me on weekends. He was confused and acted out, misbehaving and defying me at every possible turn. I realize now that he was testing to see how far he could push me before I’d take off again. Until I got serious about my recovery, my son had been on an emotional rollercoaster set in motion by my behavior for all of his young life. He needed reassurance that I’d be around for him, not just physically, but emotionally. The only way that I could regain his trust and prove to him that I wasn’t going anywhere was to show him.

That meant providing stability and consistency. When I said I was going to do something, I made sure that I did it. If I said I’d call him on the phone, Ialways called. And if I promised to pick him up at 6:00, I showed up at 5:59. It didn’t matter if my ass was falling off—I kept my word. There are no shortcuts to rebuilding trust, but honesty, reliability, and stability do work. I know because I did it. It wasn’t easy, but I’m grateful every day for my son, who now shares his time equally between his father and me.

Sobriety brings so many gifts that in the beginning of my recovery journey, I thought impossible. One of those gifts is in the way that I spend Mother’s Day today. And if you are a Mother (or Father) who is struggling with addiction, just know that if you can stay clean and sober TODAY, you too can have the gift of a relationship with your child.

It doesn’t matter what age our children are when we get sober – obviously the sooner the better – but whether they’re three, thirteen, or thirty, our recovery can be the cornerstone of a new relationship with them.  Being sober on Mother’s Day is a great way to start.

  1. Bobby says:

    I am sure that for many moms celebrating mothers day sober for the first time it is a very strange and wonderful experience. Women alcoholics have it tough. They are usually the care takers and when they are in their disease they can’t function the way they need to. This causes guilt and often more feelings of uselessness. Recovery is a gift to ourselves that keeps giving. Happy Mother’s Day to every one of the women who are in recovery as well as the ones who aren’t.

  2. Chaz says:

    Hi Georgia… what a beautiful post.

    Fathers day aproacheth in 2 days and I too am now grateful that I have this special day with my kids where once I didnt. I too had restrictions on my access to my kids. I went from super-Dad to supervised-Dad in a matter of a few months once I hooked up with my drug and alcohol habits.

    My sobriety and recovery are so key to all of my relationships. Most relationships would not exist if my sobriety and recovery did not.

    A majic day happend for me at about 3 years sober. My early-teen daughter called and asked if we could go out. It was a little late, but she persisted in saying she really wanted to seee me. She beat around the bush for an hour or more the finally in the car on the drive home, she hit me with it. She asked me a question about something she was struggling with that she felt the only person she could as was her Dad.

    She feared her Mom would not understand, even though she is primarily resident with Mom and Mom is by and large a good Mom. But Dad is Dad. And daughter saw Dad go through hell and come out the other side and thrive. So who better to ask that Dad?

    3 years earlier, my ex had restrictions on my access. Now Dad was the go-to guy. I have my recovery and God to thank for that. I too am blessed. Beyond words. And on Sunday, Fathers Day, my kids and I are planning our annual golf game. Imagine, Dad the ex-doper, ex-drinker, ex-rager, ex-depressed and in the psych ward is taking 3 teens for our annual fathers day golf.

    What a blessing.



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