“Most parents think that if our child would just “behave,” we could maintain our composure as parents. The truth is that managing our own emotions and actions is what allows us to feel peaceful as parents. Ultimately we can’t control our children or the hand life deals them—but we can always control our own actions. Parenting isn’t about what our child does, but about how we respond.”
― Laura Markham
Prior to venturing down the road to recovery, peace was unfamiliar and chaos was comfortable. My childhood was comprised of these 3 phrases: “No one is yelling, this is just how we talk,” “What happens in our house, stays in our house,” and “Just know, I could be anywhere at anytime. So make sure you’re doing the right thing.” Growing up in an Italian home, there was a lot of yelling, family secrets, and fear. Peace was not a common theme in our house. Things were always loud, flamboyant, and chaotic. It wasn’t until I got sober that I accepted the idea that I have the choice to take or leave behind some of the things I learned from my parents. I valiantly vowed to never be anything like my parents.
I was 20 years old when I had my son, so in a sense you can say we essentially grew up together. 20 years old, attending college, without a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. My son’s father and I were kids, and needless to say our relationship did not work out. Here I was, a 20 year old college drop-out and a single mother. I was crippled by fear and insecurity. I spent the first three years of my son’s life grieving my relationship, accepting the fact that I was a single mother, and learning to navigate through the world of becoming a new parent. Fast forward to January 10, 2013: my mother passed away unexpectedly from a massive heart attack and I was off to the races. I started abusing my prescription medication and I was emotionally incapable of accepting life on life’s terms, much less capable of raising my son. Finally, grace met me. I was offered the opportunity to attend treatment, and to become the mother I always wanted to be.
I spent a year away from my son, getting sober. Total solitude became my reprieve. It was in that place that I experienced true serenity. I spent a year facing the grief I desperately sought to escape. Finally, I was reunited with my son, and that’s when the work started. Utter confusion filled his little head, and it was time for damage control. I maintained a very open and honest line of communication with him. Explaining that mommy was sick and had to get better became our daily routine. Questions continued to come up. I found myself overcompensating and ultimately allowing my son to make all of the rules. I remember sitting down with my sponsor one day and she told me, “You do realize you can implement the same principles you’ve learned in The Fellowship to your parenting right?”
So I started to apply the steps to my parenting. First, I had to accept that I was powerless over my son and that I could only offer unconditional love, peace, security, and support. I took a long hard look at the harms I caused and began to make living amends to my son. I sat down with my sponsor and went through the grueling process of combating my defects and letting go of my old ideas. Every night, I try to make a point to sit down and review my day with my son and see if there is anything I could’ve handled differently. I began praying for him daily, asking God’s will to be done in my son’s life. Through this process, I realized I had been exhibiting a lot of the same behaviors and parenting methods that I was taught by my parents. This was unacceptable to me and I knew I had to make changes.
The truth is, there’s no secret step-by-step guide for parenting, nor is there a quick fix formula designed to help us raise our children or to repair the damage when we make mistakes. Trial and error has been a major learning aid for me. Today, I am almost 3 years sober. I strive to be the best mother I can be. Practicing mindfulness has helped me to offer more patience and less judgment when dealing with my rambunctious eight-year-old. I am able to pause before responding. I spend less time apologizing and more time enjoying every second, exactly as it is, with my son. I get the opportunity to teach my son valuable lessons through addressing behaviors I deem to be inappropriate. I pride myself on implementing a more loving and less condemning methodology. Through living in recovery, I get to show my son that we can always choose integrity, humility, and love.
Tricia Moceo advocates long-term sobriety by writing for websites like detoxlocal.com, providing resources to recovering addicts and shedding light on the disease of addiction. Tricia is a mother of two, actively involved in her local recovery community, and is passionate about helping other women find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.