On day 114 Lila (who I often call Bubba) woke up at 5:30am–I heard her sweet voice calling “daddy, daddy.” I rolled over and looked at her from across the room (we share a large one bedroom) and replied “yes sweetheart?”
“Can you lay with me for a little bit daddy?”
“Of course I can baby.” I said
I stumbled over to her bed, laid down and put my arm around her as she grasped my hand and nestled her head into my arm. She immediately fell back asleep, just as she used to when she was a little baby/toddler. I wondered to myself “how many more times will I have the opportunity to capture such beautiful moments with my little girl? How long will I be the guy that can make my baby feel so safe and comfortable?” I eventually have to accept the fact that she will continue to grow and mature–the way she needs me to support her will evolve. I am happy to have a clean and sober thought process, so that I can emotionally savor these moments that only come once in a life-time. I presume she had a bad dream–and I feel lucky to be the kind of dad that can provide protection while she journeys through the mysteries of rapid eye movement.
Today was her first day of Kindergarten–and after about 20 minutes of laying with her, I jumped in the shower and got dressed. I laid out her school uniform, and decided to let her sleep just a little bit longer. I prepared her breakfast–which consisted of toast with peanut butter, cherry tomatoes and strawberry yogurt. I knew she would eat the yogurt, but was skeptical of the other items. Then, I prepared her lunch and placed it in her Doctor McStuffin’s back-pack–or pack-pack as she calls it.
Last night I implemented a reward system for her–called the Reward Board. It’s essentially a sticker system–each day she behaves and listens well, she receives a sticker. Once she accumulates ten stickers–she can then pick out a toy at the local department store. It is simply amazing how well, thus far, she has responded to the Reward Board. And, it helps me out because of the hectic nature of getting a child ready for school–if she gives any resistance, I simply say “no sticker today” and she immediately readjusts her behavior.
Lila got dressed, ate her yogurt, all of the cherry tomatoes and nibbled at her peanut butter sandwich. I was satisfied with her breakfast intake–so I took a few pictures of her in her school uniform, then we were off to her first day of Kindergarten. Once we arrived at her school–the hustle and bustle of the children crossing the street and parents frantically trying to park made me chuckle. I chuckled because when I was drinking–the controlled chaos of an elementary school would’ve made my anxiety levels peak. Now, I feel at ease with a mind that has been cleansed of the alcohol induced dysfunction. We parked the car and went into her classroom for an orientation. Her teacher seems like a nice old lady–and all of the kids in the classroom were holding onto their parents arms or legs. I remember as a child, it took three teachers to pry me from my mothers leg–I often got home-sick. Lila did really well–I am a very proud father.
Her mother and Nick arrived–which is some-times awkward. It’s almost like they are constantly competing to prove that they are better parents than me–but I don’t think anyone has told them that we’re not in a contest for parent of the year. As parents, we must try our hardest with all of the love we can conjure–and that is what matters to our children. I completed the intake form for Lila’s teacher–which asked questions about us as parents, and Lila’s personality. I wrote on the form under “parent education level” that I have a B/A and Priscilla has a B/S–she looked at the paper in disgust and said “A B/S?! I have a Masters degree!” I felt a bit silly, as some of the parents turned their head waiting for a potential dispute–I just looked at her and said “please review what I wrote, and make revisions as needed.” Again, I was happy that my anxiety level didn’t peak–I just felt normal. In AA I am learning that I can’t control what other people do–I can only control my reaction.
Once the orientation was complete–Lila came to work with me. I am still transitioning from my current job–which runs a food bank for individuals with HIV/AIDS–Lila loves coming to help out…everyone knows her. We distributed some food, ate a few brownies and helped the team clean up. I will truly miss the food bank once I begin the new phase of my career on August 25–Lila and I will visit.
Now, as Lila lays hugging my arm while I write this post (she is watching Thundercats)–I feel like we are exactly where we need to be in life…though it still feels like a big piece is missing with Katie gone. I don’t feel pain anymore when I think of Katie–I just hope she is happy.
On day 114 I realize that I am capable of much more without alcohol poisoning my mind and body. I am filled with hope, as opposed to despair–and I feel stronger than ever. I have a happy and healthy 5.5 year old little girl who means the world to me–and though I don’t have family in the Bay Area–I know that Lila is here for me, and she knows just how to make me feel full-filled. Her mother may have negative feedback, and 2014 has been somewhat of a rough year–but the tough times make us stronger, and prevailing through adversity is in itself an education. I will never give up. Drinking every-day was me giving up on myself, and those around me–even Lila. Putting down the bottle was me not allowing myself to lose all that I love–everything matters so much more on day 114, and will mean even more on day 115.
They say in AA–“whatever you did today to not drink–do that tomorrow.” That is my plan. It feels good to be filled with love…great things are coming our way.