The 2015 Christmas Wish Project
The year I got sober, I spent the holidays in treatment. I missed the opportunity to spend time with family and friends because I was focusing on me. It felt like the most selfish thing in the world, and I remember feeling like an awful mother. I remember worrying about what everyone I knew was thinking about me and the fact that I was so far away from my only child on such important holidays.
Those memories are part of the reason I started Sober Mommies, Inc. It’s not always easy to make the sacrifices necessary to take care of ourselves and also feel like we’re doing a great job in the motherhood department. I had so many counselors and friends telling me that the sacrifices I was making (and forcing my daughter to make) would all be worth it in the end. I didn’t believe them that year, but many sober years later, I thank God I took the time I did. I thank God I missed those first holidays so that I could be present for the last 14. It was because I took that time away that I have been able to be fully present for my daughter. It is because of that time, and my continued willingness to work on myself that I now have a wonderful husband and two other children to celebrate the holidays with.
I couldn’t always see the benefits of the work I was doing to stay sober one day at a time, but other people could, and their belief in me was truly what made all the difference for me.
In 2012, I made the decision to get clean and sober and continue my fight for my children. The only thing I have ever wanted to be was a mother to them. I had to fight for two years in court for them, and even on days I felt like I couldn’t fight anymore – or days I felt like I was going to lose the battle for my children – I just kept on pushing.
With God’s grace and love, on November 15th 2014, I was granted full custody of my two oldest daughters Erin and Shannon! During this fight, I gave birth to my, “saving grace,” Mackenzie Sky. She is 19 months old, and because I never gave up and kept on fighting, she has never seen her mother use drugs or high. I am very blessed and extremely grateful for my life today and all that I have. I do not have much of anything, but I do have what means the absolute most to me; my children and my sobriety.
After being in a shelter, we finally have our own place! We got some furniture from a furniture bank that I was referred to by the shelter, and I was able to get some things from there. I am so grateful for places like that!
It’s really hard on my children right now, because even though we have a new place, their rooms don’t look like other kid’s rooms. I am trying to save as much I can whenever I can to decorate and make it a home, but I am also trying to be responsible and make adult decisions. My children deserve a beautiful Christmas, and it breaks my heart that I cannot give them all they want and deserve.
My heart will never be fully healed for all I’ve put my babies through, but I am doing everything in my power to make our life better. Right now I am in school four days a week taking college prep and GED classes, and I am trying to get my diploma so that I can further my education. I plan to attend UMASS Boston and get a degree in substance abuse counseling, and maybe something in nursing. All I know is that I want to help people and give back!
My son Richie, who is 16, resides with my amazing aunt. He has been one of my rocks throughout this entire journey. He has never given up on me and has always believed in me. Richie is my angel. He has endured so many losses and heartache. He met his father for the first time when he was ten (because of a ten year jail sentence for bank robbery), and then he lost him to a drug overdose three years ago. It has been really hard on him, and he thinks about his dad and how things could have been different all the time.
My daughter Erin is going to be 14 on December 16th, and has been a huge help to me. I don’t know what I would do without her help every morning and afternoon. She brings her 10-year-old sister to school so I can make it to my GED classes because of the time differences! She is my oldest daughter and has seen the most. She is such a fighter and so strong!
Shannon is 10, and such a sweetheart. She is one of the brightest, kindest, and most loving children I have ever met. She’s a great big sister and little sister, and loves with her whole heart. Shannon helps me with the baby all the time, teaching her new words, and reading to her. She’s amazing!
Mackenzie Sky is my miracle. I know that my little angel interrupted my death, and I’m so blessed to have such a healthy, smart baby girl.
I am so grateful for anything you can do for my family this holiday season. It hurts my heart that I cannot do it all myself right now, and can’t tell you how much this help means. I am grateful for anything, and whoever you are, I would like to thank you for your help and kindness. I ask God to watch over you and your family, and to bless you for helping my kids. Even if no one can give, I thank you just for reading my story! May God bless you and hold you tight!”
With your tax deductible donation of $25 or more, we can provide Cassie and her incredible kids with the best Christmas ever.
Julie Maida has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000. She is fiercely determined to advocate for and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.