I got to drive my son to school for his first day of his sophomore year of high school. I got to be one of those moms that posts first day of school pictures. I got to be one of many that woke their kid up, made sure they brushed their teeth, made their bed and got to school on time so that they could start the year off on a good note. For some people this may seem like a monotonous task, just the normalcy of parenthood. For me it was the answer to a million prayers.
In 2013 when my addiction got the best of me, my Josh was 7 years old. It was the summer in between his kindergarten year and 1st Grade. I had been a part of his everyday life from the time he was born until just before he started 1st grade. I remember walking him to school on the first day of 1st grade but beyond that there are no memories of my involvement in his education or day to day life until I got clean and came home in 2019. For 6 years my sons went without a mom after never having a father figure in their lives. Sure, I called them from jail or prison, ya they came to visit me on occasion. I even received a letter from each of them once. When I wasn’t locked up my only focus was maintaining my addiction. As a result, my sons did not come first.
Living through my addiction, my sons have had a lot of trials and tribulations. My oldest repressed a lot of emotions, choosing to ignore them, bottle them up and pretend it didn’t bother him. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time my oldest had been dragged through my drug use. When he was 6 months old I hit a different kind of bottom and he was removed from my custody by the state of Texas and placed with a family friend where he would live for 3 years. I got him back in May of 2006 after I got clean the first time. My boys have shared with me that when I started using again there were many nights they comforted each other crying, scared and worried for me. They remind me of the things I missed out on, like my oldest son’s 5th grade graduation, the first one I missed.
My youngest son was diagnosed with emotional disabilities in 1st grade. He has received in school support services, therapy and medication since he was 8 years old. He has worn his feelings on his sleeve. Acting out in school and at home all the feelings he didn’t know how to put into words. He was heartbroken and confused and has told me he blamed himself for a long time. While I can’t get back all those moments that I lost out on I can, in recovery, do something different.
About a month ago my youngest son made some choices that could have had some dire consequences. So we rounded up the village and made some decisions. He would be coming to live with my husband and I. We gave him his own room, painted and decorated it. We went school supplies shopping. We had some conversations with him. Neither my husband nor I have ever raised a 15-year-old son while in recovery. And Josh has never had a mom and a dad that are in recovery. We all admitted that it’s gonna be hard, that we are gonna have to work together, find common ground. But we are doing it. A month later my son started school in a new school. He came home from his first day with so many good things to say from pretty girls and better lunch food, to excitement about field trips and complaints about the long bus ride home. And I got to be there to hear all about it.