|August 29, 2000
Watching Mommy Cope
If there was a theme to this year's Tot Visits -- a theme besides ant extermination, cheese-in-a-can and spending obscene amounts of money on school clothes, that is -- I think it would have to be "Watching Mommy Cope."
As in: let's see how *New Improved Sober Mom* deals with unexpected snafus, delays, dilemmas, and assorted other ridiculousness ... without bursting into tears.
Without falling to pieces.
Without using the "F" word.
Without throwing stuff at anybody.
And without dive-bombing into the nearest box of Mountain Chablis.
I had plenty of opportunity to practice my newfound *crisis management skills* while my children were here. During each and every one of the Tot Visits, without fail, there was at least one Crisis Moment. One specific moment when things went horribly, hideously awry. One moment when I was suddenly called upon to be the calm, maternal voice of reason. (The "calm, maternal voice of reason" who fixes everything. Preferably before the 6:08 p.m. flight back to TicTac.)
With Jaymi, that moment came when we walked into Lenscrafters for her eye exam appointment, all excited about buying her first pair of glasses, only to be informed by the snooty receptionist that the optometrist had suddenly "gone home for the day."
With Kyle, it was the The Backpack Incident.
And with Kacie? It was the missing trance-and-techno CD.
We spent most of Saturday tromping around downtown San Francisco, visiting one trendy downtown department store after another, in search of shirts and shoes and snakeskin halter tops. ("I need at least one *dress-up* outfit for pictures and stuff," she explained.)
Crisis management has never exactly been my strong suit.
I've always been prone to huge emotional upheavals. (Flashback to eleven-year-old Secra, sitting in the principal's office, tearfully explaining why she called Mrs. McShane an 'idiot.')
Why handle problems calmly, when you can cry? Why count to ten, when you can slam a door?
Why be reasonable, when you can throw a plate of spaghetti at the wall?
Drinking just made it worse. Drinking took what few precious *coping molecules* I possessed naturally and eroded them down into little pointy stubs. By the time I ran away, three summers ago, I had absolutely zero crisis management skills left.
While they were visiting us this past month, all three of the Tots regaled David and I with nightmarish stories of that awful summer. Jaymi, as mentioned previously, told us the story of blood, wine, and broken glass. ("You were just sitting there on the floor, looking at me and laughing," she said, shaking her head in amazement at the memory. "You didn't even know you were bleeding!")
Kyle recounted the horrific morning I was getting ready for work and couldn't find my hairbrush. Frustrated, furious and hungover as hell, I slammed the medicine cabinet shut so hard that it rained glass all over the bathroom floor. The Ex-Husband was still sending me bills for that broken mirror, two years later.
And Kacie reminded me of the Rice a Roni Incident ... an episode I had totally forgotten about.
came home from work one
night, tired and crabby, and made a disparaging remark about the rice
and chicken casserole I'd cooked for dinner. At that point our marriage
was on its last legs. (More accurately, it was on its last scraggly
What can I tell you?
Old Unimproved Drinking Mom had lots of problems coping with crises.
Old Unimproved Drinking Mom would not have been able to cope with cancelled optometrist appointments, misplaced backpacks and missing CD's.
With nearly two years of sobriety to her credit, though, New Improved Sober Mom is working very very hard to not only "cope" with this sort of stuff ... but to teach her beloved Tots how to cope with this stuff, too.