Sober Parenting

Rob is out of town this week. He left early yesterday morning and won’t be back until Thursday afternoon. I wasn’t too upset that he had to go. This past weekend he was rather snappish and sort of checked out. Not all day every day but definitely for periods of time. He’d slept poorly Thursday through Sunday, which coincidentally (lol) tracked with his drinking.

Thursday night he had a couple of cocktails while hanging out on the sofa. And yep, he was on his phone the entire time. Friday night, he poured a drink at home and then had another at dinner, for what purpose I don’t know; we were to play tennis with the kids at a school fundraiser afterwards. Saturday, he was drinking by 4:00 and didn’t stop until right before bed. Again, he was on his phone while the kids and I watched a movie. Sunday, my daughter had a tennis tournament in the morning, we went to the pool for a little while in the afternoon, then we hung out at home in the evening. Rob started drinking around 4:00 when he began cooking dinner. I thought he might skip this day b/c of having to wake up early the next to travel, but nope. He drank past the dinner hour and only stopped about an hour before retiring for bed. And yep, once again, he was glued to his phone.

Funny how Rob and I just literally had the “electronics” talk this weekend, commenting on how much time the kids were on their phones, iPads, or Xbox, and I still have to deal with a husband who is so zoned in on his phone or laptop every night of the week that I can’t even watch a TV show with him. He’s supposed to be a role model for our kids.

Ugh. I wish I could say it’s “this time of year.” I wish I could blame my husband’s behavior solely on football (which by the way, hasn’t even officially started yet). But ever since Rob got that Mustang, no check that, ever since he started dreaming of owning that Mustang, he’s been keyed into researching, reading articles, surfing the web, browsing car ads, etc. It’s almost an addiction. He is so attuned to his phone that he is impossible to count on at night. He’ll make dinner, and if he has to run one of the kids to sports, he’ll do this. But as soon these things are done, he immediately checks out of family life.

Our son and daughter are growing up doing their own thing each evening. They’re in the basement or in their rooms, and they’re not even in high school, yet. They’re not angsty teenagers wanting their privacy; they’re kids. Rob and I are missing out on some of their best years, the most impressionable years, the years where they still look up to their parents and see them as role models. The more time I spend sober, the more I see how drinking has impacted this. Rob is someone I love. Someone I DEEPLY love. Sometimes I am filled with such love for him, I don’t know what to do with it. But there’s a small tear, there’s a small hole in my chest that sees issues that I used to try to mask with alcohol. Alcohol helped me to push bad stuff away, to sweep it under a rug. I could pretend–if only for a little while–that problems weren’t problems. I was happy to have the kids shuttle themselves off to their rooms to play electronics or Facetime friends so that I could do my own thing–i.e., drink alcohol. Rob is still in this mindset. He wants to have time to himself every night–to surf the internet with a drink in hand, to run his drafts, to research Mustang news, to “check out.” For not just a half hour but the remainder of the evening once dinner is cleaned up.

I am not perfect. Far from it. It’s only as I’ve put down the bottle that I’ve come to realize how MUCH I’ve neglected with my parenting, with instructing my kids. My son and daughter have grown up with their mom taking care of their every need. I’m still guilty of spreading toothpaste on their toothbrushes in the morning. I haven’t properly taught them much of anything. I haven’t trusted them to their own chores or tasks because I can always “do it faster.” I have saved them from any mistakes they could have made. I’m their net, their catchall. My son is thirteen. Thirteen! My daughter is ten. This past weekend, I made some headway for probably the first time in my parenting life. I SHOWED my daughter how to shave her legs, watched as she did it. I held off doing it for her. I wanted to teach her this so she could shave herself. I also showed her how to make Ramen Noodles, and you know what? She called me today at work and asked if she could make them on her own. True it didn’t go smoothly but she at least felt capable of trying. We’ll work on it so next time she’s successful. With my son, I’ve now had the “alcohol talk” before he starts 8th grade. I did this without Rob b/c I wanted to make sure my son knew the truth about drinking, and I felt most qualified to teach this. I’ve also tried to get my son to open up to me. I’m spending more time with him one-on-one. It’s so… cool!

School starts tomorrow. Tonight, I will help the kids get ready, but I won’t do everything for them. I will tell them to pick out their outfits, bring out their backpacks, get their water bottles and snacks together, and then I’ll head them off to their showers. Rob will miss the first day pictures and walking my daughter up to her elementary school, but I will be there. I will try to be “present” for every milestone this year and beyond. I will focus on my children, focus on my parenting and how I can improve it, because we only have so much time left with my son and daughter in the house. I will not let alcohol steal these precious memories from me.

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