Time for a…
Blast from the Pabst
When my son was, let’s say 12 (and we’re saying that because i have no idea how old he was), he belonged to a theater “club” that met every Saturday afternoon. The community center was 20 minutes away on foot, and after lunch i would walk him there, come back home for an hour, and then go back to pick him up.
One Saturday, my daughter (and if 12 is the age we’re going with for my son, we’re stuck with 10 for my daughter) decided to walk with me. As we approached the center, she wanted me to hide and surprise my son by showing up alone. i agreed and dutifully waited behind a bush to watch the scene play out.
My son exited the building and was obviously surprised to see my daughter unaccompanied. As they passed in front of my hiding place, i heard her explain that “Dad drank a lot of wine and fell asleep on the sofa, so I came to pick you up by myself.”
And he believed her; after all, why wouldn’t he?
As telling as this story is, the footnote to this story occurred about two months after i went into recovery. i took both of the kids to a teen al-anon meeting at a church here, then waited for them in a cafe. When the meeting was over and we were riding the subway back home, i asked my son what he thought of the meeting and he said he felt that he didn’t really belong there. While other kids told traumatic stories of their parents’ drunken escapades, he said i’d done a rather good job of keeping my drinking from spilling over onto them.
i’ve been sober for over 19 months (still not long enough) and in that time i’ve tried to make up for my down time with my children. i find that i’m more present in my sobriety than i was when i was drinking, and that i have more energy to spend on them and more patience to accord them. i like to think we’re close (my son now lives with me and i have my daughter almost every weekend) and i see they are beginning to trust in my recovery. They are relaxed around me. They make jokes about subjects that could be sensitive considering my drinking life and my bottom, but they feel safe.
i want to be the perfect father. i will never ever be the prefect father. Right now, though, i’m a better father than i was, and my children need that a hell of a lot more than they need perfection.
They never stopped loving me, but now they can look up to me.