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The Happy Report

If you’re out there wondering if things get better after you lose the booze, I’m here to report that it actually does. It really does.

We all know that parenting is difficult. We put crazy expectations on ourselves to serve healthy food, to limit TV, to spend quality time with our shorties (not in front of the TV). We have to make sure they have toys (but not too many or they might get spoiled), clothes, regular doctor’s appointments, healthy boundaries, and self esteem (but not too much or we may turn them into narcissists). It’s enough to make the average parent’s head explode if you think about it too much. It’s enough pressure to drive even the most balanced among us to drink.

I’m learning to take my parenting in bite-sized pieces, it’s the only way I can swallow it without choking. Since I can’t drink or do insane amounts of blow because, apparently, cocaine is also off limits -yeah, whatever, I’m finding that the thing that keeps me sane is lowering my expectations.

Yesterday I provided organic chicken and a buttload of veggies for the kids to eat. The day before that I bought Elby another pair of shoes since her feet are growing faster than Brangelina’s family. Today I plan to take Elby to get a frozen yogurt after school cause I’ve got those kind of parenting chops! Last night I played “open the door” “close the door” with Mattie and Sadie for fifteen minutes straight – completely sober! And then I gave myself a huge pat on the back.

Really, if you set your standards a little lower, you may end up surprising yourself with your competence. Where I used to be gripped with anxiety over all the things I wasn’t doing, I’m now able to sit back and know that although my kids are zoning out watching Diego for the fifth time in one day, they are also madly loved and cared for to the best of my ability. Is it possible that my new found bliss has a lot to do with my twins approaching the more do-able age of two? Sure, anything’s possible, but I prefer to believe I’m just becoming more evolved.

Last night Elby was having trouble getting to sleep. Jon and I were lying on the couch watching Mad Men like everyone else with decent taste in TV programming, but we had to pause it every few minutes when Elby came padding down the hall to report her latest disaster.

Elby: I need to tell you something. (long pause) My pillow fell.

Me: Okaaay. Can you pick it up?

Elby: No. I need daddy to help me.

ten minutes later…

Elby: I need to tell you something. I smell dumplings.

Jon: Here eat one and go on back to bed.

Elby: Okay. But I need to tell you something. Can you also save me one for my lunch tomorrow?

ten minutes later…

Elby: I really need to tell you something. Do you know what happened to the spider that was in the bathtub yesterday?

Me: Don’t you mean I need to ask you something?

At 10 p.m. we hadn’t heard from her in over an hour so assuming she was sleeping I poked my head in her room to make sure. I found her laying in bed eyes wide open staring at the ceiling. Her Burl Ives story CD had been restarted for the third time. I walked over to her bed, looked down at her and whispered, “You having trouble sleeping, bug?” She nodded.

“You can sit with me if you want to, mommy.” So, I sat down on the edge of her bed and rubbed her back. “Do you want to lay in my bed with me for a few minutes?” she asked so sweetly.

I snuggled next to her and stroked her hair which smelled of Suave mango shampoo from a fairly recent hair washing. In less than five minutes her eyes closed, her breathing slowed and she was fast asleep. I layed there with her for another ten minutes taken aback by a wave of emotion for this beautiful, smart, perfect little creature that only came out of my body less than five years ago. I felt honored to be the person with whom she feels safe enough to shut her eyes and drift off to her dreams. I hope I’ve earned it.
This is why parenting is hard. It’s so hard because the rewards are so great.

I’m glad I don’t drink because I would’ve missed that.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on October 19, 2009 8:40 pmDrinking,Twins48 comments  

48 Comments

  1. Rebecca said,

    The twins are beautiful and Elby is such a mini-Stefanie, I don't even know what to say! All your girls are so beautiful and look so happy.

    And I can tell from reading your books that your kids are insanely loved!

    | October 19, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

  2. gimmethejuice said,

    Thanks for sharing. This was great and made me cry while watching baseball to which my kids said. Jesus Christ, did they lose again?

    | October 19, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

  3. www.privilegeofparenting.com said,

    This is beautiful.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 12:18 am

  4. Mommy on the Spot said,

    This was such a touching post. I love how you wrote about the beauty of the moment when your kids fall asleep with you. Sometimes I take that moment for granted at the end of a hard day, but I will think twice about it.

    I think you are absolutely right about lowering your expectations. I've tried to do that this week, and you know what? I was happier which means the kids were happier. If that means we pay in the form of having peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, than so be it.

    Glad that the whole not drinking thing is going so well for you! You should be very proud of yourself!

    | October 20, 2009 @ 1:14 am

  5. Suzy said,

    Knowing your background like I do, I know how much your children are loved. Maybe the booze made you think you weren't doing a good enough job but I know in my heart you were just worried you weren't doing ENOUGH. Even though you were.

    I'd like to set up an appointment for a back rubbing next Thursday at midnight. Iz u vailable?

    p.s. those children are gorgeous but look like me. Whaddup wid dat?

    | October 20, 2009 @ 1:25 am

  6. Bridget said,

    I love love love the picture of Elby!!

    And this may be my favorite post you've written. Glad things are going well.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 1:31 am

  7. Alisha said,

    I really liked your post. I wish I was where you are! My mom died when I was 15 (she was 34) of alcoholism and I swore it would never consume me…but for some reason…lately….I feel it has…it is the worst feeling. Maybe one day I can gain the perspective you have. Thanks for sharing your story. =)

    | October 20, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  8. Ann's Rants said,

    Yes. Lowering the expectations–

    I just serve the broccoli, I don't have to make them eat it.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 1:59 am

  9. Cheryl Lage said,

    Beautiful girls with a beautiful mama. So happy for you—and them—Stef.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 2:04 am

  10. jeanie said,

    What a lovely post.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 2:35 am

  11. Kirsten said,

    I love this post. I'm all choked up now.

    And isn't dancing with no pants fantastic? Your girls are adorable.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 3:09 am

  12. Erica said,

    i too have had that moment watching my little one sleep. your post brought happy tears to my eyes! thanks!!

    | October 20, 2009 @ 3:40 am

  13. Beth said,

    Beautiful, beautiful post… brought tears (of gratitude) to my eyes.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 4:37 am

  14. Katadia said,

    I love your blog. I never feel judged as a parent reading it. Your girls are beautiful, and so are you!

    | October 20, 2009 @ 10:08 am

  15. Denise Thomas said,

    Listen, beyotch, just because you've gone and gotten you're crap all together, don't be shovin' it in the faces those of us who still chose to be a damn wreck. Nothing is worse than some healthy, gorgeous brunette who has figured out what works in her life, the best way to care for her family and herself, and found smart ways to be happy. Who wants to read about that? Keep it to yourself, smarty pants. Pretty lady. BFF….

    | October 20, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

  16. Kristin said,

    You're right about all of it. I have a similar attitude now, not due to quitting drinking, but to the crazyness of having a 3 year old and a newborn. Your parenting expectations get lowered really fast. And I've discovered that's ok. We all are happier when I'm not freaking out about trying to make everything perfect.

    I really loved what you wrote about watching Elby sleep. It gave me some much needed perspective. My formerly wonderful sleeper son has basically boycotted all forms of sleep since his sister was born 3 months ago. The only way we can get him to sleep is to lie down with him until he falls into a deep sleep. I have been viewing this as a quite onerous chore, but will try to adjust my attitude, because you're right, there is something wonderful about being the person who makes him feel safe enough to sleep.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  17. Anne Marie said,

    All I have to say is i TOTALLY hear you w/the mango shampoo & rubbing her back moment…it's priceless and I find myself thinking the exact same thing. Thanks for putting it so well in words;)

    | October 20, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  18. Anonymous said,

    Great post. I'm so happy to here
    that you are doing so well.
    Your girls are so cute.

    Joann

    | October 20, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  19. maggie, dammit said,

    You've described that disconnect (or, now, lack thereof) so beautifully. So beautifully.

    Good on you, girl.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  20. Jen @ After The Alter said,

    Awww what a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. I am not a parent yet but rewards like that are what I dream of. It brought a tear to my eye…

    | October 20, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  21. Kori said,

    I have been sober for coming up on ten years now (and yeah, what IS that about the blow being not allowed either? sheesh…) and am still constantly amazed at how much better a parent I am. Not just in terms of enjoying the journey but in so many other ways that the mind boggles. Still, I don't think that lowering expectations is what did it for me; I think for me it was just deciding I was going to BE a parent. Life got a lot better for all of us at that point.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  22. Chris Mancini said,

    Great post. it's amazing what lowering your expectations to a realistic level can do for your sanity. Now it doesn't have to be Harvard. Princeton is fine.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

  23. Mommy Melee said,

    Beautiful. Thank you.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

  24. Shannon said,

    Amen to that Steph…
    The rewards are worth every stressful moment we go through. I love the pictures. Adorable! Elby is such a pretty princess. Getting sooo big. It seems that wmotions take over when we are lying in bed watching the kids sleeping. You are the bomb-mom. Luv Ya Steph!!! Shannon

    | October 20, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  25. Anonymous said,

    Bravo! Beautifully put.

    You say "lowered expectations" I say "not taking yourself so seriously." The fate of our children does not hang in the balance with our every decision and action. As long as we get the big things right, and a decent percentage of the small things, they'll be wonderful.

    -Lisa

    | October 20, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

  26. nikki said,

    SNIFFFF!

    | October 20, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

  27. Kathy said,

    You know what? That was awesome! My "baby" will be 12 in March of next year and she still would love it if I layed beside her every single night, which I don't, but I do 3 out of 7 nights and I sit and rub her back for the other 4 nights, and it's the best part of my day.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  28. Kendra said,

    Wow. Is it weird that I'm grateful you stopped drinking so I could get some perspective too? I'm a worrier by nature, and I've been trying really hard lately to let go of the fretting; either do something about it, or let it go. And it sounds straightforward, but it's not. Reminding myself to lower my expectations to a manageable level, to take time out to be present, not just trying to accomplish what I think I'm supposed to get done, that's really important.

    Thanks for the insights, as always.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  29. Janefilms said,

    This is one of my favorite BOB posts. I love the dialogue especially, "I need to tell you something…"

    And I need to tell you something Stef-mama. You are rockin' it hard. I'm glad you don't drink. I'm really glad to know you. I'm glad you use mango shampoo and notice the magical moments.

    big love!
    j

    | October 20, 2009 @ 7:48 pm

  30. sirenna said,

    Your kids are cute and sweet and Sadie is quite tall and robust when next to her twin. (Long past the guinea pig stage imo)

    | October 20, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  31. MyHormonesMadeMeDoIt said,

    I love this post and think it is one that would inspire other moms to give up whatever they do that causes them to miss the awesome rewards.

    | October 20, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

  32. Robin said,

    Sometimes I think the snuggles with the 5 year old are so much more rewarding, because they are choosing to have you there with them. Newborns automatically want and get it, but as they get older, it really becomes the parent's honor to be a part of that. Sobriety has sent me so many more of those memories lately, I truly feel blessed.

    My best friend is coming to visit next month, and she's bringing blow *and* weed. A girl still has to party, right? 😉

    | October 20, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

  33. jennifer said,

    awesome awesome awesome.
    jennifer angstmom.com

    | October 21, 2009 @ 4:15 am

  34. Rita said,

    I wanted to say awesome, awesome, awesome too! I think my favorite post. Tears

    | October 21, 2009 @ 5:25 am

  35. Shannon said,

    I might add that because of this, I layed in bed with my Nico, who is 4 1/2, and snuggled for a long time last night. I got pretty emotional too. Thinking back to when he was a baby in my tummy not too long ago. We are pretty amazing people to have created these beautiful children. I am glad you don't drink anymore, so you didn't miss this…I am sure It mean alot more!!! Kudos my friend! Luv Ya! Shannon

    | October 21, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  36. Red Lotus said,

    That post seriously brought me to tears! It could be though, that I am 7 weeks pregnant with number 3 and desperately hoping for a girl. But nonetheless, you have beautiful children and I am glad you found your happy place.

    | October 21, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

  37. Anonymous said,

    I always read your posts before i start my day at work. This morning you made me cry. You are such an inspriation to others. I am not a mother yet but hearing you speak about living in the moment and not having huge expectations and being kind to yourself is wonderful. I was married before to an alcholic and it was a very painful experience. He was not sober when we divorced and not sure if he is yet but I do pray for him and hope he will have your same experience. I go to Alanon and it helps me deal with everyday. Even though there is no alcholic in my life anymore I still need to know how to deal with life on life's terms and to live each day fully. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job. you are a very courageous woman.

    | October 21, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

  38. Piccinigirl said,

    Oh my, I never know what I'm going to get with your post, laughter, or thougthful head nodding, or complete *WHA????* but today, I got exactly what I needed…a reminder that I am a mother to two little boys who call me "Mama" and no matter what I do or don't do in my day. As long as they feel loved nad taken care of..well I succeeded.
    thanks for the tears…I needed them. :)

    | October 21, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

  39. SmartAssMom said,

    I love this post.

    | October 21, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  40. Janet said,

    I am new to your blog and have been reading it all day! Congrats on your sobriety….I too have been drinking way too much at home at night and after reading your blog, have decided to stop drinking too….wish me luck!

    Janet

    | October 21, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

  41. Dorothea Coelho said,

    Steph,
    This was a doozy! Loved it and you have inspired me to slow down and enjoy my toddler days instead of racing around trying to get it all done. You are on my blog roll and are a daily go to. Hope to see you soon. Landry is coming to town this weekend to show his movie and meet my little rugrat.

    xxoo,

    Dotty

    | October 22, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  42. Dorothea Coelho said,

    By the way, your kids are cupcakes!

    | October 22, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  43. Angie said,

    We as mom's believe that because we are moms we all of a sudden need to be supermom. I have to agree after reading this post that our expectations of ourselves need to aim a little lower because supermom needs something added to be that super. I know I have that habit and I am gonna need to kick it.

    | October 22, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  44. Soni said,

    This story brought tears to my eyes. The way that you write is so capturing.

    | October 23, 2009 @ 5:01 am

  45. Anonymous said,

    I think about things wayyyy too much and have so much tension in the back of my neck to the point where I can hardly turn my neck. Thank you for writing what you do. I am watching you now on Dr. Oz and think that you are very brave for coming out about drinking. signed up for counceling today.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 2:13 am

  46. GeminiGirl said,

    This was such a beautiful post.

    Sometimes I have to remember the things that I do, not focus on what I don't.

    It's easy being hard on yourself- we think we can be superwomen….but that does not exist.

    As for two being easier? Really? Please tell me that it gets easier, as my girls are approaching their second birthday in 2 weeks.

    Your daughters are beautiful.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

  47. carrie said,

    I LOVE this one! LOVE!

    | October 27, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  48. Amanda said,

    You are awesome because:

    1)I'm just about done with your latest book and I love it and

    2) this post.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

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