Rarely has there been an evening in four years that I could not be found in a rocking chair with my little man at 7:45.
Every night, I sing those three songs to him as we rock in our favorite chair, then I sing them again once he’s comfy in his bed. Every now and then, if he’s not fully asleep, I’ll hear from under his blanket, “Just one more time?” And I’ll sing them again.
While I sit there stroking his hair and singing our songs, just one more time, my heart breaks for a little girl I used to know.
This ritual is not a new one.
It started with my daughter when she was a baby. As she got older, she too would ask me to sing, “just one more time.” Unfortunately, there were very few nights that I stayed to sing. If I did, I’m sure it was with agitation because it was cutting into “MY time.”
My daughter has never seen me drink. I wish this was because I was sober when she was born, but it is not. She was born four years before I sobered up.
It’s because I was “out.”
When I drank, I justified “my time” with just about anything. This time was devoted to drinking. I got sober at 22, so most of my alcoholic years fell below legal. Luckily, I was crafty.
If you had asked me why I was drinking so much on any given night, I would have told you the truth. It had been a rough day… my car had broken down… my father was a total asshole… my mother, a bitch. The list was endless…and true. I believed that I drank for all of these reasons.
Today I know that I drank because I liked the feeling produced by alcohol. I loved being drunk and forgetting that I hated myself, even for just a few hours.
I’d like to tell you that “MY time” became less necessary the second I got sober. It did not. I simply adapted this time to suit my need for substitutes. Within the first five years of my sobriety, there were many nights that I couldn’t stay for even “just one more time.” Perhaps there was a man waiting for me in the living room, or by the phone, or maybe I couldn’t wait one second longer to go smoke a cigarette. Whatever the reason, there was always something more important that couldn’t wait.
By the time I took action to change my behavior and the woman I was, my daughter had long outgrown the desire to have me sing her to sleep. I can never make up for that time with her, and she will never fully understand how much it kills me.
When I sit with my son and sing those three songs “just one more time,” I try hard to forgive myself for all the time I robbed from my daughter. I try to believe that I did the best I could with the tools that I had then. I try to be as gentle and compassionate as I would be of someone else. I know that I was sick and selfish, and didn’t know it then; I didn’t understand. If I could go back and give her that time, I would. I have made amends to my daughter, and although she voiced the words “I forgive you,” I can’t imagine how she could.
So, every night I sing to my son with that memory, and thank God I am not that woman anymore.
These are the actions that keep me sober; NOT the morbid reflection of the mother I used to be, or wish I had been, but rather gratitude for the mother I get to be for all of my children today.
Hearing, “just one more time” no longer causes anxiety and agitation. I hope to hear them every night; because even if I have other things to do, there’s no place I’d rather be.
photo credit: atelier de betty via photopin