Sober Moms: Parenting is Scary, Really!

Fear was a huge obstacle for me before I got sober. Life was just too scary; I feared the past, I feared the future, and I especially feared getting sober. Everything about life scared me, and every bad event was a huge catastrophe. Then I got sober, and there was no covering it up with booze – I had to finally deal with my fears. In the beginning, the only thing that kept me somewhat stable was my strong belief that if I just remained sober I would get through the difficulties, and my life would eventually get better.  And because I was willing to walk through fears, my life has gotten so much better.

wpid-wp-1418874709449.jpeg But… back than I though that I would never again have to go through such an excruciatingly difficult experience as getting sober, but to my dismay, there has been others. I have now learned that this is just a part of life. With each experience I grow and get stronger. I also get better at bring myself into balance when I have fallen out of it, and I continuously practice maintaining my emotional sobriety so that I am not paralyzed by my fears.

Nevertheless, I have once again found myself stuck in fear and out of balance – I am struggling to process what is going on with my five-year old son. He is a bright and very affectionate young child who has some great difficulties socializing and dealing with everyday life. His behavior is quite challenging, and we have been trying to manage it for about a year now. We have tried numerous methods to help him, and nothing seems to work. We thought that maybe when he starts kindergarten he would be engaged and busy enough that it would keep him focused, but things actually got worse.

For the last several months, I have been getting at least 3-4 calls a week from the school concerning his behavior. It’s really painful to listen to the teacher describing the situations and his reactions. I also get calls from the principal of the school when my son’s behavior is above the manageable level for the teacher. In the last incident the principal called to tell me that he had punched a “little” boy in the stomach for no reason. The boy was taken to the nurse for evaluation and then sent home. His parents wanted to know my son’s name and were angry that nothing was being done to stop him. The principal said that my son seems to “have it out” for this particular child, and if he continues to hit him, he will be suspended. I felt horrible; embarrassed, guilty and confused. When I asked my son about this incident he explained that he punched the boy because the he touched his paper. That just doesn’t sound right. Is my child a bully? OMG! I didn’t even know what to say. I just have been so overwhelmed with worry.

Of course the school is constantly looking for answers and I don’t have any. We don’t hit him and no one abuses him, he has normal routines, and we use normal punishment practices like time out. He is not aggressive toward us or anyone in the household. Nothing traumatic has happened to him, or in his life. We have not moved, or acquired new pets, or drastically changed anything about our life in over 4 years.

I don’t have any answers.

He is now close to suspension and we had to meet with the school counselor, the assistant principal and his teacher to put a plan into motion that might help him, and help us with managing his impulsive hitting, his crying outburst, and the temper tantrums.

And I am scared. I am scared that I have not been a good parent. I am scared that I do not know how to help him. I am scared that I am just not equipped to deal with this. I am scared that he will have a difficult life. I am scared that there is something really wrong with him.

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In my mommy gut instinct I know that there is something not quite right, but I don’t know what yet. I have researched the shit out of Google, and read every article about behavioral issues of 5-year-old boys. I have talked to several of my sober mom friends and I Have received huge amounts of advice, and amazing support, but no answers. I know that I have done, and continue to do the best I can as his mommy, yet I can’t help but take his struggles onto myself. I have internalized all of it while trying to figure out where did I go wrong! But I can’t figure out the past and there is not point in looking back there. I need to keep moving forward.

So, I am really trying to stay in the middle and be proactive with all of this, because I seem to be swaying from pretending that this is not happening, to wanting to pack up and run! I’ve been mentally exhausted by all of this, but I know that he needs me, and I need to continue to support him, and love him, and guide him.

Last week I took him to our pediatrician’s office to visit the practice therapist. We had a great session and my son was happy to talk to the doctor. I also had a great conversation with the therapist, but I did not get any answers. I did get some more helpful information, and a suggestion to take him to a family therapy practice. I felt better and optimistic. I felt like my son was going to be OK.

Coincidentally, this week I was asked to lead a meeting. It was the perfect timing, because it was the day before the big meeting with the school and I was horribly nervous. I shared about this experience with the group, and asked people to share their experience strength and hope, and how do they stay sober during the difficult times. And of course I got a huge amount of feedback. Here are a few of the much needed reminders:

  • Take on one day at a time
  • Go to more meetings
  • Read recovery literature
  • Stay connected with your sober network
  • Do not sit in self-pity
  • Do not project into the future
  • Be proactive and not reactive
  • Stay positive and grateful

I walked out of the meeting with renewed strength. I was reminded that being a sober parent today is really the greatest gift, and that only because I am sober, I am able to suit up and show up for life, and for all that it has to bring. It has been a huge challenge to stay balanced through all of this. I am still learning how to tolerate my intense emotions without acting out in dysfunctional ways. But the bottom line is that no matter what happens, and what difficult time I am going through, I know for sure, that if I don’t drink, it will all work out.

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. byebyebeer says:

    A girlfriend I’ve known all my life has a son who had some challenging early years. In preschool he was suspended frequently for hitting and biting. (It was always geared towards other boys.) In early elementary school, he had some behavioral challenges. Meanwhile, this kid was really bright and gifted in building things and math, so it puzzled and tortured his parents. Through therapy, testing and a lot of patience, they found some answers for his particular case and from what I understand, he outgrew much of the impulsive behavior and is doing well in middle school. Kindergarten is so young, you know? On the one hand, the schools want to manage behavior and keep everyone safe, but I hope they will provide resources and support to him and you. I’m really sorry you’re going through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Great story. The teacher keeps saying that he is very smart and he learns quickly and stuff, so that’s great, i guess i should focus on that more and praise him. And the rest i just need to keep searching, the answer is out there i know it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mishedup says:

    sending you love and prayers maggie…
    being a proactive parent means going after answers and then dealing with them…i know you will.
    and we all have your back….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Your”re so very right!

      Like

  3. SC says:

    He might simply not be ready for school yet. Lots of little boys aren’t. Girls develop fine motor skills, emotional regulation, patience, sitting still, following directions, and all those other attributes at an earlier age than boys do. The difference seems to even out around age seven though, which is why Finland doesn’t start school until that age.

    Many American parents follow the Finnish practice, known here in the USA as ‘redshirting,’ to allow their boys an extra year to develop the social, emotional, and behavioral skills necessary to succeed in school.

    One peril of keeping your son in a school environment which he isn’t ready for is the danger of him getting tagged as special education – emotional disability, or something along those lines. The school may demand psychiatric visits and medication before he can attend class. A label like that will follow him the rest of his academic career and may limit his educational choices farther down the road.

    Have you looked into Montessori schools? They are more child-centric and flexible than the majority of other educational options, and might be a better fit for your son.

    Best of luck!

    http://parkinglotpushups.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thank you for your comment. He may very well not be ready for school, at the same time he has spent 3 years in preschool already and the curriculum and the routines are about the same as kindergarten. He displayed some of these issues then too. If he has a disability of some sort whether it is developmental or social or what have you, I think it would be better that he has help – I don’t really see it as a label. I have a friend who suffered from a horrible case of ADHD, his parents refused to treat it and he has suffered greatly through his school career, both socially and academically.

      I think there is a deeper issue here. I am keeping all options open, moving to another school would be one. But I want to have him evaluated by a medical professional and see if they can make a diagnosis of some sort first.

      Thank you for you thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I know how you feel about questioning yourself. I do it all the time. I am a divorced parent, and neither of my children date. They are 20 & 23. Neither of them have EVER had a date. Did I mess them up? Was my divorce to prolonged to nasty to ugly? Are they emotionally scarred forever? Did I do it?
    I know how hard it is when things are happening with your children that can’t be explained. The only explanation could be that we suck as parents, in our minds of course. I think it is only natural.
    Naturally we want to fix it immediately also.
    Parenting is hard, especially in these times.
    You are fantastic, and a great mom, all of this will work out.
    XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You’re so right on! We are so hard on ourselves. Ugh. I keep thinking what I can do better or something differeny or more of what he needs. I read and talk and good grief! I need to stay grounded and in now and be really grateful for the awesome parts of him. He is not all trouble. There is a great little kind in there too!

      Thank you! Hugs.

      Like

  5. ainsobriety says:

    Hug. Parenting is hard. Kids are theor own people. Tegardless pf how much we want to control them, we can’t.

    Just as we shouldn’t try to steal the limelight from theor sucesses, we should not take on all the blame for their problems.
    Kero doing what you are doing. Get professional help. Find other parents who understand. Consider if he might do better home for another year, starting kindergarden next september. Those are all good options.

    A sober you is a vital part of this. It will work out.

    Anne

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    1. Thank you! Your comment sounds so calming. There are options, I know! That’s something I am tying to focus on now. This is not the end of it all. He will be ok and we Will find what works for him.

      Yes, sober me is vital! I see that so clearly.

      Thank you!

      Like

  6. robertlfs says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and your sobriety.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That sounds like a really tough situation. My heart goes out to you and your little boy. I think there is lots of good advice here…I don;t have anything further to add, but I will say a prayer that things work out for the best for you. Trust your instincts! Hugs.

    Like

    1. Thank you! All advice and comments are so greatly appreciated! Sending hugs.

      Like

  8. freebreezi says:

    wow, tough times and what a heart wrenching struggle for both you and your son. not everything about our children, what they do and how they behave is down to our parenting. From my experience if you truly believe that something is just not right here with your son then trust that intuition and act on it. No matter what the professionals might say if you believe that something is amiss they you will most likely be right. Hang in there, stay strong and fight for your child. Keep going until you get there. The right person / advice / help will be there and it will come to you and your son.
    Meanwhile all the best as you travel this path. You are mum and you rule.

    Like

  9. k2running says:

    I am adding you, and your son to my prayer list! Challenging &scary times, frightened of the unknown…… and having to feel and face every ounce of pain. Sounds like you have wonderful support and a successful program. You are right, you are a sober mom, most importantly, and you will get thru the challenges that life presents!
    Thinking positive thoughts😊
    Katie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It is scary! And all those damn feelings! And new feelings! But I am finally coming to terms with this, sort of speak. Which is amazing because I am now able to be proactive instead of reactive. And all the support I have received here and everywhere else was a huge part of it! Thank you! Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hugs. Parenting is very hard and you are doing an awesome job at it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ugh…so sorry to hear, Maggie. I have a 5 yr old boy and funny, there is another boy in his class who is also challenging the teachers and the other students. The student has attacked or bullied or done something to every single student in the class. Hasn’t targeted anyone in particular, but certainly has everyone on guard. I know the parents in that case were doing the “unconditional love” kind of program (there’s a program for that??) where they don’t discipline. But I think they may be changing their tune on this. Of course, I am not drawing a conclusion to your son – but what I identify with is how you sense there is something not quite right. And hell ya, that intuition is usually on for moms!

    Keep researching and asking questions – I think we all would do the same, and like everyone else has said, you are doing fantastic in these challenging times! The program helps us in these times (in all times) and you are doing exactly what you need to do to face this. It’s commendable, my friend.

    I hope things turn around sooner than later!!

    Blessings
    Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Paul! I think our discipline is pretty standard, yet none of it seems to work. The teacher actually asked if maybe we were to strict! I really had to think about that – I made him vacuum the house once as punishment! It didn’t seem harsh to him at all, he found it exciting! Lol! We once took all his toys out of his room and told him that he had to work to get them back by having good behavior at school, he said he didn’t need any toys! They toys were in the garage for over a month. We did an award chart, that lasted a week. We have tried sooo many things. I really think that in some way he seems not to have control over his reactions, and some, like the big tantrums, he can’t even remember. So, i really think that there is a bigger issue.

      Btw. My husband is having a really hard time with it. I don’t really know how to help him. I am trying to be supportive best i can, but i think he might have been in denial about the severity of it until the last meeting with the school. If you got some words of wisdom from the man’s perspective, i would really appreciate it! Hugs!

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  12. I’m sorry you’re going through this, Maggie. We’re having challenges with our son in kindergarten too, mainly that he doesn’t want to go. He’s already 6 so it’s not a matter of him not being old enough, just that he doesn’t want to be away from home for so long. This is in no way meant to be advice but I want to share something we discovered about time outs. My husband read an article that some kids need a “time in” instead. For some kids, time outs send the message that they’re only acceptable to us if they’re happy, pleasant and basically perfect. Our son already shows signs of perfectionism so we decided to try it. Instead of sending him away to a corner when he’s misbehaving, we bring him closer and hug it out until he’s ready to talk about it or until he’s ready to change his behavior. Changing our approach has changed our lives and the battles have stopped. Every kid is different and my daughter could still use a good old fashioned time out now and then but I’m so glad we tried this approach with our son. Good luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Karen! This is a good advice. We have been working on showing him more love, because he totally closes up when things get too intense and then he feels like a failure. The positive reinforcement has worked more than punishment for sure. He may very well be having some of the middle child syndrome and feels a big lost. But I still think it is all somewhat out of the norm.

      Like

  13. Reblogged this on Addiction Recovery Coach and commented:
    Wonderful post x

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