November 3, 2011

Maybe happiness is a choice just about as much as it is not. I guess having half a choice is better than nothing. I would prefer it handed over on a silver platter me with all my excuses and no work just ruminating. It doesn’t happen like that and I know it. But I forget. Sometimes it’s hard to even make the choice to try or to work at anything at all. Sometimes the sad and tired makes you think things that keep you so very stuck. That’s me anyway. Then I do this forgetting. Forgetting that I’m putting most of my energy, my choice, into imploding. I’m focusing so hard on the bad bad bad that I’m searing it’s shape right into the very core of my brain and then it wants to travel to my heart and soul. I’m so thankful that I have people in my life who cut it […]

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I want to believe my kids will never drink. That when they’re teens, they’ll never dabble with chasing a buzz or ever drinking under-age at all. I want to believe that they won’t cave to peer pressure. I wish that they were somehow exempt from that particular inevitable adolescent temptation. As a recovering alcoholic, of course I’m scared for them.  And maybe I wish my sobriety would erase any potential addictions that might lie in wait for them.  Of course that’s not how it works, so we’ll always talk about it, as we have now, in a way that they can understand for their age. But the reality is that no matter what a parent does, the issue will arise. Or the glasses will be lifted, so to speak, all around my impressionable offspring. Cheers to high school rebellion! As much as I’d like to believe my kids are going to take the […]

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freedom is free

September 28, 2011

I’m watching her discover her hand. She’s doing what babies do, she’s trying so hard to keep it in focus. I don’t know what that is or who it belongs to but I want it. Her little fist is clenched so tight and her eyes have the intensity behind them that shouts something like awe mingled with frustration. Her whole body shakes with need. She seems to be willing that hand of hers to do something it just will not do. Maybe she wants it to open. Let go. That thumb of hers has been driving her crazy for weeks the way it hides itself between pointer and index, like she’s playing the old trick, I’ve got your nose! She has never taken a pacifier and she wants her thumb but she just can’t seem to free it. I’m looking at her and I’m thinking me too because as much as I want […]

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The way home, revisited

September 11, 2011

Today I read an article in the October issue of Redbook magazine and was brought back to the beginning of my sobriety journey. Well, wait. Actually, I was brought back to my drinking days, too.  The article is about drinking mothers and features myself and my friends Ellie and Corinne. I dont’ know if people who read that article will google The Extraordinary Ordinary and land here, but if so, I wanted to share something for them. So today I’m re-posting something from not long after I stopped drinking. I hope it speaks grace to anyone who comes along. :::: I am on a flight where you choose your own seat and this is new to me. At the same time that this empowers me, it also makes me feel like the unpopular kid in the lunch room, searching frantically for one of the last spaces and a welcoming face. Much like the […]

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little stone

August 17, 2011

It was a red scooter sort of thing. A motorized two-wheeled zippy little thing. They were called Sprees and they were all the rage. Especially if they were red. We were standing in front of the high school and for some reason he told me I could drive it. I think I’d driven one before, but by myself. This time, my friend Angie hopped on the back and all I remember is that it was harder to steer. But the high school had a circular drive and the first thing I had to do was round a sharp corner. It didn’t take but seconds and we were down, turned sideways and under the scooter in the drive’s edge, little pebbles bouncing away. She said, Why didn’t you stop? She was in so much pain and she was angry and shocked. I had no idea how to answer her. For some reason, when I […]

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My Dad asked about postpartum depression yesterday. He asked when it usually sets in. I couldn’t clear my head to answer the question because I don’t sleep enough to have normal conversations. I don’t know exactly what I said, but what I meant was something like, “as soon as the baby comes out…or anytime after that. Or even while you’re still pregnant.” I don’t know if it’s happening to me. Again. Maybe it is. It’s hard to tell without sleeping much at all. What I do know is that this is hard and that I cry a lot. As much as I don’t want to cry, as much as I just want to constantly feel joy, that’s not my reality. Sometimes I cry because I sing to Elsie when she’s crying and I just can’t hold it back. I’m a horrible singer and I really really mean the words… There you go with […]

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Lately, every day starts very early in the backyard. I sit on a yellow patio chair and I read and then a little later, I write. I sip coffee (yes, I have one cup of coffee while pregnant) and later Ryan joins me with the newspaper and I’m not even kidding you, there is a hummingbird right over there just now; a few feet from me, no lie. It is sticking its nectar syringe in tiny pink flowers with tiny wings batting in front of a red throat. I’m trying not to move. Maybe if I sit still long enough this beautiful moment won’t pass. Oh. There it went. Bye Bye Birdie. I think the same thing about my motherhood life right now–maybe if I sit still long enough, this moment of it will stay just as it is because it’s so good. Of course, that would mean staying pregnant forever and I’m not up […]

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June 3, 2011

I’m shocked that he remembers… Can we go in there, Mommy? Where? I want a sucker. Where do you get a sucker, I don’t understand? He’s pointing across the parking lot, to a strip mall. I look up to see the liquor store and my heart sinks to my feet. No, honey…we can’t go in there. Why? Because that’s a liquor store and I don’t drink alcohol anymore. Then he blows me away. Mommy, if you saw the wine in there, it would make you want to drink it? Yes. That’s true. It would. After that, maybe it was a rising up of things buried, of things I thought I had forgotten, heavy feelings of regret, I don’t know. But I could not stop crying. I drove and cried and remembered and even though it hurt, it’s good to remember so we don’t have to go back. They were so vivid, the memories of […]

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It was pretty ironic that on a day when I really needed a mental health break, I got an email saying that The Extraordinary Ordinary has been nominated on Circle of Moms for the Top 25 Mental Wellness Blogs Written By Moms. I’ll admit, I chuckled. I said something to myself about my own current mental health and I chuckled. Don’t get me wrong, it’s truly an honor to be nominated…I’m just being honest.  I mean, after all, I did leave Ellie a message yesterday that said that I was sitting on the couch eating marshmallows and had absolutely no desire to move. Then I asked her voicemail, Is that so bad? I was simply practicing self-care, of course.  Having a rest. And some sugar. My boys and I have had a solo week and I’m really pregnant, what can I say?  (I am always thinking of single parents when Ryan is gone […]

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2 a.m.

May 5, 2011

Today I have the honor of sharing some words with you that are not mine. Words that tell the story of what it feels like to helplessly witness the spinning despair of a loved one that is also an alcoholic. This post was written by one of my favorites: anymommy ::::: May he turned twenty-one on the base at Fort Bliss “Just a day,” he said down to the flask in his fist, “Ain’t been sober since maybe October of last year.” Here in town you can tell he’s been down for a while, But, my god, it’s so beautiful when the boy smiles, Wanna hold him. Maybe I’ll just sing about it. ——–Anna Nalick We want it to be someone else’s cousin. Someone else’s sister. Father. Brother. Husband. Wife.  But there’s a great big target on all of our backs and it comes home to us eventually.  It has to. The odds […]

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Everything Mom

April 20, 2011

Dear Friends, I wrote an article for a site called Everything Mom (a great place for all things motherhood-soul stories, resources, menu planning, free printables and much more.) Here is how the article starts… I was a drinking mother. Today I’m a sober mother…. You can read the rest over at Everything Mom, if you’d like. Thank you. I hope your day is GOOD.

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March 29, 2011

It’s been so long since we could open the windows and leave them that way. It’s been so long with no clear sounds from outside. No birds. No breeze. This stagnant air is suffocating. This Minnesota winter is long and relentless. I want new air in my home, tinged with warmth…oh, how I want it. I want it so much it hurts. I want to go outside without a coat and walk through the trees and put my fingers to new leaves and feel that little prickle of nature’s energy flowing up my arm, making my eyes wider and brighter. I want to feel better. It’s so hard to feel better without spring, without the new air, the new grass, the new leaves. I suppose the human spirit was made to overcome winter.  So, either we do or we don’t. Maybe it’s a choice. So I will stare the stagnant air in the […]

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just one door

December 4, 2010

Yesterday it snowed and snowed. So much snow. I shoveled our driveway because the snow is just fluff and I’m a strong pregnant lady. I shoveled again later so Ryan would be able to get in the driveway after work. I swear the snow plows push more snow from the street to the end of our driveway than all the other houses in the world. I’m sure of it. So then I was tired. After my first round of shoveling the boys wanted to make cookies so we got out all the ingredients and then we needed the butter to soften to room temperature. Both of them knew what that meant and I was surprised. So I lay down on my side on my bed and was glad for the butter excuse. Asher found me within 30 seconds and he walked up to the end of the bed and said, Hi Mommyyyy in […]

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thank you

November 12, 2010

So there I was on the TV. That was surreal. It was all a blur and then it was done and I whispered, I hope it helps. I didn’t know if it would…I’m just me, it’s just a few moments in time, but I hoped. Even if it was just one person, sitting on the other side of the screen, ready to see themselves in my story and feel less alone, I wanted something new for them. I wanted the mom or dad out there who feels stuck and alone to know that I was living it too and I didn’t believe in living in any kind of new way and today, I’m okay. I mean, I’ll always be a work in progress and this is in no way easy, but I’m okay, I’m better than okay. I am somehow living something new. I wanted that person to know that they can do […]

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My addict mind has often told me that it wasn’t that bad, that maybe I don’t even really have a problem. And then something happens like the night with the wine for the cooking of the food. The way I was suddenly crying over that smell, suddenly frozen with fear and regret. Lately these surprise attacks of a clear memory of what it was like come packaged in morning sickness. I’m feeling sick (all through the day) not because I drank too much the night before, but for a much less guilt-inducing reason. The Acorn. My pregnancy. I’m so grateful for the constant nausea since it’s a good sign things are going well, growing and creating, cells and neurons zapping and popping and actual organs beginning to make their shapes. And all at the same time, even while I feel that joy, I’m frequently hit with this intense sense memory complete with every […]

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October 10, 2010

Dr. P. has enormous hands. When we met him about two years ago and knew he would be doing Asher’s brain shunt surgery, Ryan joked, How is he going to manage surgery on such a small head with those sausage fingers? I watched those same hands I’ve come to know (and maybe even love) as they circled Asher’s head at his check-up on Thursday. He knows what he’s doing. He knows what he’s looking for. He runs his pointer finger and thumb along the valve (shunt) on the right side of The Noggin and he pushes a little to feel for something I don’t understand. I was right next to this big man and my boy and I was vacantly watching because the fear I have as Asher’s mom always rears its feisty head in the children’s hospital. I float through it all while we’re there, holding more tightly to that small hand […]

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exactly today

September 15, 2010

It seems like they were just babies. Now they’re building a play house in the backyard and I don’t know how that can be. They are exactly who they are for exact reasons. One hides often and the other throws things a lot. They balance each other out and are just exactly perfect exactly how they are. They are good friends, our boys. Every mother wants her children to stay friends for their lifetimes. I’m no exception. I hope they will always put their heads together to find answers and stand up for each other. We all need someone who is always on our side. There are so many exciting things happening for us these days. Our family is in an entirely different place than we were even one year ago. And even with all the changes and so much on our family platter, Ryan and I can still so often be heard […]

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the monster and the miracle

September 5, 2010

I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself. – MontaigneHer teenage son was trying to pour her booze down the kitchen sink’s drain. She was drunk and desperate and she wrapped her arms around him to pull him away, to save herself from having none. They both fell to the floor, wrestling and tugging and pushing and pulling. He was stealing from her and she was stealing from him. She had carried him and brought him to life and now she felt like she was killing him with herself. The arms that once held the soft weight of his infant body, the hands that gently ran over his newborn skin, had turned on her. She was broken and he was breaking and then she got help. She is sober one and a half years and he is still angry. He sees the monster more than he sees the miracle. Sometimes […]

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the whole story

August 29, 2010

We painted. For hours. It was our anniversary and the two short dudes were staying with Nanny and Bapa. Painting may not sound like a very nice way to spend a day celebrating six years of perfect wedded bliss, but there we were. (Actuallly, we like to work on house projects together when without the kiddos. We talk, we boss each other around, we take our time.) Anyway. We were painting the kitchen and taking turns observing out loud how annoying it was that the paint didn’t seem to want to be on the wall. Or maybe, it was the previous coat of paint that was trying to shirk off the new and better, brighter color. We rolled and rolled and brushed and brushed and the paint put up its fight, acting all see-through no matter what amount of paint was being slathered over it. Of course, this was an analogy to me. […]

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I’m well{ish}

August 23, 2010

So I disappear for a while and then I come back with a random post, waxing philosophical on crying strangers. Am weird. Then so many of you were kind enough to say something along the lines of Um…okay, Heather…but how are YOU? I’m well{ish} I’m trying to make friends with the middle. And by that I mean that I struggle to be okay with not being perfect while I also mostly just want to cave to being the opposite of perfect. For example, I feel so much more peace these days about all things motherhood. I used to ruminate and worry much more than I do with sobriety in my pocket, and it’s strange new territory. Because as an addict (and a human being) I have this all or nothing tendency. So. That whole peace thing is bordering on laziness. Believe me. I know. I live here. Yesterday I did more nothing than […]

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August 16, 2010

I think back on it. Back before we moved, nearly eight months ago already. I think back on the difference and I compare for a while. I feel sick to my stomach for a while. Then I feel grateful for a while. There was rarely anything that could interrupt my drinking routine. And if something came up, I almost always found a way. You’d be amazed at how there’s always a way when your will is that strong. But one night, after Miles had been sleeping for an hour or so and I was getting sufficiently buzzed, or trying to, anyway, he woke up with a cry. This rarely happened, and when Ryan and I went to him, he threw up and threw up and threw up. His sheets and pillow, his floor, his little blankie, everything covered in vomit. I sprang to action and forgot my wine. I held him and cleaned […]

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July 18, 2010

The red wine is for the skillet, for cooking, for mushrooms, for steak. It is not for me. It is not for me. I am standing and pretending I’m unaffected, handing out bread next to the skillet and its chef, downwind of the smell of the wine. To the people who curve in a line like ants, coming for food, I repeat, bread? bread? bread? would you like some bread? bread? bread? And I’m thinking, wine wine wine, even while I try to focus on other things, like the serving gloves I’m wearing, my hands sticky and hot, and the faces smiling and thanking me. For the bread. wine wine wine… Of course there is irony here. The bread and the wine, this doesn’t escape me. This thought reminds me to beg for serenity. This thought, of bread and wine together, not alone. So I say the prayer and kick at the dirt […]

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July 5, 2010

We sat at the parade and my friend said, “Yes, you’ve lived a lot of lives.” And I answered, with a lump in my throat, “Oh yes, I have.” ~~~~~ I grew up in a town where the 4th of July is a really big deal. If it falls on a weekend, it’s an especially long party complete with red and white and blue and a whole lot of people, and even more alcohol consumption than on the average summer weekend in Midwestern Minnesota. It took me until the 3rd to realize that this year would be different. In the years before marriage and children, I would go to the parade, hang out on the lake, and drink, and then go to the bar and drink some more. After meeting Ryan and having our kiddos, I would spend the day with my family and then always be sure to have plans with friends, […]

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June 26, 2010

I need willpower. I’m hungry and thirsty and looking for a place to sleep. I know what I need. I can rise up in the morning and tell myself, today I will do the right things, and then I believe I will reap the rewards of self-discipline and self-control. My intentions are so good that I believe I’ll do it all (and more) and then maybe I’ll feel more peaceful. As if everything works like checks and balances and tit for tat and punishment and reward. Do ‘A’ – Get ‘B’ I need to believe in grace because I can’t believe A gets B because so often I get a really good B without finishing my A, without following through or doing my good-intended right thing. Grace isn’t fair in the best possible way. Grace does not fit in a box, but it remains in all things even though it blows my mind […]

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here’s the down low

June 24, 2010

I was thinking about how many things I bring up in this space, never to revisit them again (ahem, thoughts of homeschooling? Wanting another baby? Other stuff I can’t think of right now?) And then I thought about how writing about recovery and sobriety and addiction has sort of taken over my blog. So that means that the tone is often…heavy, man. Then I thought, I hardly ever update on Asher’s health anymore and I rarely do “From the Mouth of Miles” posts these days. The thing is, it all happened naturally. Asher is doing really well, and when Miles talks about things that I want to share with the world, I censor myself a bit more because I don’t want him to look back on these pages and wonder why I made every stinking little thing public knowledge, you know?There’s a huge difference in life these days. When I compare last year […]

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June 19, 2010

I read something last night. It was written by a woman who struggled with alcoholism like I do and it said that when she drank to enjoy it, she couldn’t control her drinking, and when she tried to control her drinking, to drink less, she didn’t enjoy it at all. Seems kind of obvious that this would be the case for an alcoholic, but it takes most of us a really long time to recognize this reality. I thought about all the times in my life that I could, for one reason or another, only have a couple of drinks at a time. Maybe it was in the presence of non-drinking people, or we were about to go to a movie, or any number of things. And I realized how true it was, that I would get so uncomfortable with only a couple of drinks. I didn’t see the point in that at […]

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June 7, 2010

It’s been nearly five months since we moved. Five months. This has been the very most surreal five months of my life, I’m pretty sure. I stopped drinking not long after we came here so everything was literally and figuratively new for me, for us. Today, when Ryan finished building a fence for our backyard, I thought about it all, again. The fence means that our boys can run in and out without so much worry and checking. And it also meant so many other analogous things, and I really liked that it also means that our dog can finally be free of this… In our previous fenced backyard, our Tia Maria dog had free reign within the parameters of the fence. She was just fine with that. It was as if she knew the fence was there to protect her, to keep her home. Every once and a while she would get […]

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The way home

June 3, 2010

I am on a flight where you choose your own seat and this is new to me. At the same time that this empowers me, it also makes me feel like the unpopular kid in the lunch room, searching frantically for one of the last spaces and a welcoming face. Much like the last four and a half months of sobriety, I think, because I always think in analogies. I can’t help it. I spot the middle seat in the exit row and ask the Aisle Man if it’s taken. He kindly says it’s yours and I slide in and stretch my legs and start to realize he’s been drinking. He makes jokes that aren’t funny, loudly, trying to entertain the whole plane. Some people chuckle softly, a courtesy laugh. Others shift uncomfortably in their seats, trying to ignore his volume and obvious drunkenness. He orders a drink and then another on a […]

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May 25, 2010

I am currently eating a bagel just as fast as I can. Dear Digestive System,please don’t be mad, I’m in a hurry.Love,Overwhelmed I leave for Utah in just 2 days. There I will be attending the Casual Blogger Conference and also doing a little speaking. Today I am kidless and working hard at preparing for the speaking and whitening my teeth. Because, you know, people might think my teeth are yellow while I’m waxing philosophical about blogging in front of them. Or something. I’ve printed out my itinerary and the conference agenda and tickets for this and tickets for that and apparently this is really happening. I shall now sit back and tell myself (burp) that everything is going to be just fine. Yesterday I went to get loads of groceries in an effort to continue my job as wife and mother while I’m away. I was starting to feel the stress of […]

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I’m a fan

May 22, 2010

I’m a big fan of owls. The other day, my friend gave me a big fat owl to sit outside my front door. He greets people.(He’s not a real live owl, he’s a decorative one.) I would have taken a picture of him to show you, but it’s pouring outside right now, so he’s busy. I don’t know what I mean by that.Owls can turn their heads all the way around, isn’t that mind blowing?They’re like mothers. I’m also a big fan of garage sales. Yesterday we found an area rug that’s just perfect for our family room. It has orange and gray in it, and so do our family and dining rooms. So it matches.But my socks don’t.I’m not a fan of matching clothing. Ryan is not a fan of germs and so he’s a bit concerned that something horrible is lurking in this garage sale rug. He just told the boys, […]

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