Back when I quit drinking, I gave Miles an explanation I thought he could understand. Then I was a bit astounded at his ability to understand. (I give him all the credit.)

This morning Ryan looked at his phone and saw it was the 20th. For us, the 20th always sticks out, a number that shouts SOBRIETY! So he said some congratulatory things to me from the other room, calling them out. Miles figured out what his daddy was referring to and came to me, stood next to me and asked, "Does that mean you had another month of not drinking wine?"

"Yes, that's right, honey."

He beamed and bounced a little bit, gave me a quick little side squeeze and ran off to play.


When I think back on the days when Asher was brand new and Miles was so much smaller, it always stings my heart. It was a hard time, in so many ways. I think of the day that both Miles and I just lost it and then I sat next to him on his bedroom floor and we cried together and talked about how hard it all was, right then. Because it was. We were just so tired. He was two, so our conversation was simple, something that would make sense. I told him it would get better, even though I doubt either of us believed me.

It got worse, for awhile. The constant crying from Asher increased, Ryan's work kept him away every other week and I was starting to drink more. I so often saw the pain and confusion in that little face. I felt the roller coaster of emotion day after day and I know he felt it too. I was so stressed and I carried so much shame because everything was spinning out of control and I felt so helpless. And then we found out about Asher's hydrocephalus and it got harder again, for awhile.

So Miles seemed to feel nothing but hate for his baby brother and who could blame him? His little egocentric toddler/preschooler mind could only understand so much. And sometimes I wondered if any of it would ever ever get better. It didn't feel like it. The daily grind will steal hope sometimes, especially when it's covered in so much extra. And we all have extra, don't we?

I tell you all of that because it will help you understand how much something meant to me earlier this week. My boys were bundled in their winter coats and they were standing so close together. Asher was turned away from Miles, peering from his little glasses and out from under his stocking cap. And Miles suddenly said, "Asher, aren't you so glad we're brothers?" And there was so much gentleness in his voice, so much true love.

Then Asher turned to his big brother with the brightest eyes and answered with a big "UH HUH!!!"

They smiled at each other and looked at each other for a long time.

It got better.


Yesterday we had some family over and Asher was playing with his big cousin, Zach. They were putting together a Lego train track and Asher said, "I got this for Christmas."

So Zach replied, "I know you did. I was there."

And then Asher said, in his high-pitched voice... "Oh yeah....Awkwaaard." He felt silly for forgetting and he said just the right thing to make that clear. How did that screaming little newborn and that helpless little boy who needed brain surgery turn into this little person who knows when to say awkward? I just don't know.


These kids, they become so many beautiful things despite life, despite me, you know? I could just weep at their goodness. And I know I haven't entirely failed at this motherhood thing. I know that they've learned some good things from me and through me. I know. And yet what I know even more is that despite all of my failings, they overcome, they mature and they will continue to blow my mind.

They live out redemption and they always embody grace. Just like the rest of us, always moving toward better even in the darkest of things and even when it doesn't feel like it. I'm just so humbled by that. I really am.

41 clicked right here to comment:

Mitchell said...

This is so beautiful. It was a privilege to get to read as a parent that can relate to the darkness and the light. Thank you so much for sharing yourself like this.

Jenna said...

I feel this way when I look back and what I used to be like, before meds, before counseling. Before making the hard decision I made last year. I totally get the looking at the kids with new eyes, the relishing being able to be present, but tinged with memory and regret.

So honest. Thank you for this.

deb colarossi said...

I love that you write my heart . Even though our stories are different.

I love that you get to see how your story is so much more incredible than you ever imagined.

Deb said...

My sons have been through plenty (gulp), and they are four years apart in age with different fathers. I have been painfully estranged from my brother for 20 years, and they have never had aunts and uncles and cousins to show them what adult familial relationships can be. So I've worried. Now at 6 foot tall and 6'2" they recently stood eye to eye and proclaimed themselves best friends for life. I might be beginning to belief they things are turning out just fine.

Anonymous said...

This was such a lovely post. I think any parent can relate (and I certainly do) to that feeling of being proud and grateful for the things we get right as parents, and even more grateful for the grace of God to make up for our many failings.

Melissa said...

Oh such a beautiful post. I do dearly hope my boys will stop randomly hitting each other and actually like each other one day. I really relate to that feeling of awe - I constantly look at them and wonder how the heck they are so totally awesome? If I can just stay out of their way - they'll rock :)

Anonymous said...

I just read back a few posts to your story about getting rides in Nashville and I am laughing and laughing. That is SO great.

Jenn said...

Girl, tears are welling up in my eyes. I tell you! I remember days a 12 years back with my two oldest boys, then 2 and a newborn. All my youngest did was CRY. Constantly for days. I tell you, I lost it more times than I care to recount. Some times those days still haunt me. But, it is so true there is redemption in those little souls. Thank God! What would we do without the forgiveness and grace our children bestow upon us.

Casey Freeland said...

Another gut wrencher. Beautiful post. I was just thinking yesterday, "What would my behavior be like if everything i did, everything I said, would be played back to my four children?"

I'd be a better person.

So why not start acting that way now.

Thanks for this.



Rachel McPhillips said...

Seriously Amazing Post. Thank you for being so honest about your struggles.

Christy said...

I loved this post. Just loved it.

Momo Fali said...

Not despite you, because of you.

Kimberly said...

Such a message of hope here.

I wasn't able to go to church today but having read this. I feel like I did in a way. Your words are interwoven with what church means to me: spirituality, hope, and joy.

Jamie said...

I love this post!! Thank you for sharing your heart in such a beautiful way!

Kim said...

"These kids, they become so many beautiful things despite life, despite me, you know?"

Yes, I do know and it is so amazing, isn't it?

5thsister said...

Isn't it grand?! I just experienced my 6th month anniversary and didn't realize how emotional it would be. You could be writing my story. Substitute prematurity for the hydrocephalus and an older sister instead of brother. God bless you and God bless your family. I now see that there truly is hope for I see it in my own life as well, thanks to your inspiration.

swonderful said...

LOVE this post, Heather. So good. Love.

T & T Livesay said...

Loved this post like the rest of these ladies... remember the day we met and hugged at the back of that church thing? I knew you were so profoundly sad ... but not why. I'm very thankful that your strength and His mercy and grace have allowed you to travel to the place you find yourself today.

Much love,

Elaine A. said...

It's truly amazing to me what the little ones can withstand. Thank God. And I just love that Miles and Asher had that exchanged and that you made sure to record it here...:)

Kelly said...

"...despite all of my failings, they overcome, they mature and they will continue to blow my mind."

Yes, so much of this. I keep waiting for someone to come re-claim my kiddos and then they turn around and amaze me.

JCK said...

Heather, the beauty in this post for me is your sobriety. And, that you can see all of this, and feel the blessings. Lovely.

Oh, and congrats on another month! :)

DeNae said...

How do you reduce me, the wordiest, chattiest, verbosiest (yes, that's a word now) woman in blogland to speechlessness? Such a beautiful post, Heather. Such a great spirit. You are a treasure.

LisAway said...

~It got better~

What a wonderful thing to recognize. What a beautiful story. All beautiful stories have their dark parts and even later struggles, but the beauty of a beautiful story never ends. Aren't you so glad? Because you still have lots and lots of story ahead of you.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Well this was just a lovely post. Congrats on another month and on finding the beauty that has come from it.

sara said...

what a beautiful post!!!

as I look at my grown kids now, I think..how did this happen? I KNOW the kind of mother I was (in the good and bad times) and can hardly believe what amazing young adults they have become! God is so good. Just another reminder that He is bigger than me or any of my "bad times"

Patois said...

I'm not sure if it's a comfort to know that there are many of us who feel the same way about our kids. "They become so many beautiful things despite life, despite me." I know I feel it all the time. And it does provide me some comfort to know I'm not alone believing that.

And the young one's use of "Awkwaaaard"? Hahahaha.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

There is so much I can relate to in a way about this post, and also love, because I've seen it with my own. And I am just so thrilled for you to see those two boys be amazing for their new baby sister. It will blow your mind. And heart.


rebecca @ altared spaces said...

Redemption. I love the way Miles embraced Asher. I love the way Asher embraced his awkwardness.

As you tell this story I hear you backing away from your influence as their mother. "I give him all the credit" and "I haven't entirely failed at this motherhood thing".

It's my lesson these days to embrace myself. Embrace. That's my word this year; my self-portrait word. So, it may seem I'm talking about you, but really it's me. You're holding up the mirror so I can see myself.

You were the one who cried and promised it would get better. You were the one who stopped drinking. You were the one who poured the love so brothers would think it was a good place to love one another. I see you doing these things.

This sounds so corny, Heather, but I just have to do it: I embrace the mommy in you living in that house where life is details that might drive a person to drink. But you don't. You live from 20th to 20th.

That feels like redemption to me.

Jen said...

Sometimes I think my children transcend my parenting. Sometimes it feels as if I am learning more than they are. A gorgeous, gut-wrenching post from you, again.

Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts said...

As we begin to contemplate a second child I worry about disrupting our little family of three. And while I don't expect that we'll have to deal with as much of the "extra" that you did, it's still a bit overwhelming. But even in the midst of a lot of hardship your boys are a testament to the fact that hard times pass. Thanks for this heartfelt post.

Lisa said...

I'm not a mom, but reading your posts I feel like one. I imagine my motherhood through your eyes and experiences, with it's ups and downs, cherished realizations and wisdoms. And you know what? It's pretty darn sweet! Thanks girl!

Anonymous said...

The daily grind will steal hope sometimes - God, yes! But sometimes, the daily grind shows us bits of pure beauty and grace, just as you describe here. It's a wondrous thing, isn't it?

Hugs, my friend. Remember that the journey has really only just begun. xoxoxo

Alita said...

I found myself nodding. Nodding my head again at "The constant crying from Asher increased, Ryan's work kept him away every other week and I was starting to drink more." (Oh how that resonates in a BIG way) Then I nodded more at the "extra" ... This entire post was shared right from your heart. Where else could it come from? And kiddos will always give us another chance to love them more. Your little men will learn so very much more from you.

"Without a struggle, there can be no progress." This post- is progress! :)

C.Mom said...

I love this post. These words. These reflections. And children...their words, your sons words, those are the things that make every single day (Even the horrible ones), worth it. Hugs to you!

Kaycee said...

Such a lovely and thoughtful post. Thanks for sharing your heart - your boys have beautiful hearts.

Betty said...

That is awesome! I think we all feel like failures at motherhood until our children remind us we aren't. Sweet post!

designHER Momma said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you 1000 times over for sharing your journey of sobriety with us. It does not go on deaf ears, that's for sure.

Keep up collecting the 20th of every month, because you are an inspiration.


Andrea Mosher said...

Hi Heather,

My name is Andrea and I have been following your blog for a while now. Thank you for putting yourself out there and for your candor and honesty. I just recently started a blog about living in recovery. I would love to get your feedback and to put a link to your blog on my blog. The address is www.gratefulinrecovery.com and it's entitled Gratitude Girl: Chronicles of a Neurotic Alcoholic in Recovery.

Thanks for all that you share!


Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

As long as the heart is in the right place, it will always get better. It's simply a manifestation of grace. Oh how we need it. I think as long as you continue to feel "humbled" by it, Heather, grace will continue to find you again and again and again.

Thanks for another beautiful post. Evidence of a beautiful mind and heart.

goingflyin said...

Thank you for this. Just thank you.

Jen said...

oh gosh, couldn't you just melt into a puddle when they talk to each other like that.

And I say not "despite," but "because."

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