The story behind the #MyMomAlwaysSays posts
She said, “It wasn’t my worst drink, it was just my last,” and with that, my mother began her journey to getting and staying sober, one day at a time.
And for me, that meant joining my mom at a healthy dose of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings…when I was seven years old.
To you, that sounds insane, and perhaps like a poor parenting choice. But it’s my story. Such is life.
For as far back as I have memories, my mom has been my hero. I love absolutely everything about her, even the things that drive me totally freaking mad. She’s my first example of, and thus my definition of, true love. She’s wonderful and sweet and impatient and flawed and I can’t get enough. Hands down, she’s one of the coolest human beings you’ll ever meet.
And so I begged her to take me with her to her AA meetings.
Maybe my story is different from other kids who’ve lived with alcoholic parents because I never saw my mom drunk once in my whole life. She was the kind of drinker that left me and my three siblings, all under the age of seven, at home with my dad on a Friday night so she could cut lose at the bar. Then she’d stumble in during the dead of night long after my dad had already put us all to bed and gone to sleep, too.
If you told me as a kid my mom had a drinking problem, I’d say you had the wrong mommy.
Then on August 11, 1994, enough was enough, and my mom found her way to “The Rooms” of AA and into a life of recovery.
As a kid, I hung out in the playrooms of the churches, sometimes by myself or with my siblings and sometimes with the kids of other recovering alcoholics, and would rush back to the room to hold my mom and another person’s hand during the Our Father and Serenity Prayer at the end of the meeting.
In my teens, I started sitting with my mom through the hour-long meeting, listening to stories of suffering men and women sharing their heart and working to save themselves from a disease that tears apart more families than kills people.
The one thing I learned early on from going to meetings was that every single person had problems and all of them were working on bettering their lives. Because none of them could do it alone, they found themselves in The Rooms, together.
I didn’t hear my mom share frequently but when I did, my palms would sweat like crazy. As her daughter, I was scared to hear her share pieces of her life that didn’t fit my image of her. On the other hand, I couldn’t have been prouder. I’d look first at her, then around the room, and it was as if people were just as mesmerized by her as I’d always been.
I loved going to meetings. I loved when my mom would say yes and let me go with her. I loved getting in our old heap of junk van and driving to Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee. I loved pulling up to the parking lot of the various churches and seeing familiar faces waiting to love on us. I loved the way the rooms smelled like crappy coffee and faint cigarette smoke and old Bibles. And I loved the way I felt after I left a meeting.
To this day, I never once asked my mom why she let me go with her to meetings. Why would she expose me to a room full of drunks when I was just a kid?
It doesn’t matter the reason. And if I asked her she’d probably say she never thought twice about it. The people I’ve met in the rooms of AA are some of the kindest, gentlest, smartest, most hardworking, incredibly strong people I’ve ever known. They come from all walks of life, they all have their own story, and every single one of them has fought like a gladiator to turn their lives around.
Those are my kind of people.
There’s a feeling about being my mother’s daughter. It’s like a vibration, and even now while I’m typing this my palms are sweating. When we’d step out of the car and into the circle of recovering alcoholics gathered in a church parking lot, my mom was easily the coolest person I’d ever met.
People flocked to her. Their faces lit up when they saw her. People threw their arms around her, kissed her, and loved on her. It was frequent that someone would come up to her and say, “You’re Sharon, right?!” And because I was her daughter, I got all the same love, too.
She has so many friends in The Program and all of these people became like family to me. They supported me through middle school, high school and into college, and to this day, they’re still doing their own thing and cheering me on from the sidelines.
In the 22 years of my mom’s sobriety, I became the person I am today. So much of everything I know about life I learned from my mom or in a room full of recovering drunks. People who know me can tell you plenty about the amazing advice my mom has given me and how I’ve passed to it on to so many others over the years.
From the time I was in high school I found myself constantly saying, “My mom always says…” followed by any number of incredible bits of wisdom she’s gleaned along the way. I’d be talking to a friend in need, the guy in front of me in line at the coffee shop, the lady sitting next to me on a plane, and every single person I’m close to.
And while The Program has helped my mom in sobriety from alcohol, the things she’s learned apply universally, and have made her the superhuman woman, wife, parent, and friend she is today. So I’m passing on to you all the things she’s taught me, because my life today is better for the little moments where her one decision to get sober made all the difference for me.
Each year in high school I had the opportunity to present to my mom her AA anniversary coin. We’d go to the meeting to celebrate all the anniversaries taking place that month and would clap and cheer and love on the people celebrating ten years, one day, 10 months, 15 years, 35 years of sobriety. Talk about a good feeling.
Then the time would come for me to give my mom her coin. As we stood at the front of the room, each year I’d take the opportunity to say something to the tune of, “Thank you to all the parents in the room who’ve chosen to, fought for, and persisted in their sobriety. I am the daughter of a mother who lives one day at a time, and her sobriety has created more opportunity for me than I ever would’ve had had she continued down that same path. Thank you to every single mom and dad in this room who also lives one day at a time. We as your children, have a life today, because of your commitment to recovery.”
I am truly the luckiest person I know and as I find myself in a period of transition from my career in the Air Force to my dream of being an entrepreneur (like my mom), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the things that make me who I am, where I come from, and the story of my life up to now.
I am absolutely my mother’s daughter and I’d bet a lot of money that phrase has never been used so proudly. If by some amazing miracle, I become even just half the woman my mom is, then I am certain to live an incredibly full and amazing life.
Or as my mom always says, “My life is so good I feel like I’m cheating.”
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