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I Grew Up Too Fast And That's Okay.
How My Alcoholic Parents Shaped My Life
Having grown up in a home with two alcoholic parents gave way to unpleasant childhood memories. With a kitchen garbage can filled to the brim with empty beer cans and vodka bottles on any given night, you could say my childhood was anything but normal. Most of my adolescent years were spent worrying about my parents, in particular my father. I prayed he made it home safely from work knowing he would stop at the bar before heading home. My father was routinely fond of coming up with “family adventures” for us kids, yet they never were really as fun as advertised. A promise to ride our bikes down to the local tide pools ended with my father stumbling drunkenly home behind us, sipping from the concealed flask in his boot. We always knew when he was drinking, yet my sisters and I being starved for any kind of parental attention turned a blind eye. My mother on the other hand was not a happy drunk nor did she venture out of the house often. She instead used her frequent intoxicated episodes to remind her daughters not to marry the first man we meet or worse have children with him. My parents relationship was not one filled with love and romance. On good days my parents avoided one another and only spoke when they had a few drinks in them. On bad nights, my sisters and I retreated to our shared room to wait out the screaming and broken dishes coming from the kitchen. My mother blamed my father for everything wrong in her life. She blamed him for not making enough money, or never being home (because he was at work), for her depression, and of course for making her a mother we all know she didn’t want to be. Yet, even with the hatred between them, my parents ended up having five daughters and never divorced. They couldn’t live with each other but they also couldn’t live without one another either.
Booze Before Love
They Tried Their Best
I don’t think my parents intentionally had children in the midst of their alcoholism; I think we were planned but the stresses of raises us put the booze before the priority of being good parents. My mother being an only child,raised herself by two alcoholic parents knew little of what it meant to be a good mother. I truly believe my mother tried her best but fell short when it came to making her daughters feel loved, adored, and ultimately wanted. Yes she was physically present in the home but she was not mentally there for her children. My mother did sign up to chaperone school field trips, help out in the classroom, or attend school functions. Even with this lack of affection and attention, I did on some level know she loved me. I still strived for her attention and always wanted to make her proud. As I’ve grown older though my relationship with both my parents has changed dramatically. I understand now that my parents have an addiction they cannot help, and events that happened while I was a child could and probably would have been prevented if my parents were healthy.
I learned as a teen that I never wanted to repeat the same mistakes as mother and father. Although my parents showed little interest in most activities my sisters and I were apart of, they did encourage, well better yet required that their children did well in school. We were bribed with money and treats to do get perfect grades, and for the most part it worked. My sisters and I worked hard throughout our middle school and high school years and into adulthood, each entering college with perfect GPAs and bright prospects for the future. As I look back now I don’t blame my parents for my lack of a normal childhood, which outsiders may find odd. I forgive my parents for the turmoil they put me through as a child, knowing that it helped create the person I am today.
It's Not A Choice, It's A Life
I Grew Up Faster Than Others, But I'm Not Sorry
As a child I didn’t invite friends to my house, but opted to have sleep overs only if hosted by them. My parents couldn’t be trusted to remain sober for more than 12 hours, and I wasn’t going to risk a friendship over that. This situation got old fast, and after a few years I ended up losing many friends along the way, most who couldn’t or wouldn’t understand my home life. As a direct outcome of having parents who drank each night, and a mother who never woke before noon, I learned along with my sisters to take care of myself at an early age. By age six I knew how to get ready for school on my own, make myself lunch for the day, and help my sisters cook dinner in the evening. Aside from grocery shopping, my sisters and I were pretty self sufficient. Being the youngest of three sisters I learned everything from them. If I needed help with homework or a parent signature on a school form I asked one of them. My oldest sister was the main parental figure in the household and acted more like a mother than a sister. When my mother did rise in the morning early enough to see us off to school, her red rimmed bleary eyes had little love in them. We were not held often as children as affection had always been difficult for my mother. My father made up in this department, when he was sober enough to think of it.
My Happiness Is Mine and Mine Alone
My abnormal childhood taught me how to be a responsible adult. I don’t take obligations and responsibilities lightly and hate to let others down. I also try to not take anything for granted and have learned to enjoy the small things in life. It has not been an easy journey, and my childhood memories have kept me from reaching some of the goals I have set for myself. I am not the most confident person, and wish I had better self-esteem. Yet, I still try to live each day with gratitude and forgive my parents for their mistakes, knowing that if they could change the way they raised their children they would. Likewise, I know my parents love me in their own way and have already proven to be wonderful grandparents. As I’ve grown older I understand the stresses my mother and father dealt with as young parents. I may understand more so because I am handling the same types of stress in my life today. In the end though, I can truly thank my parents for teaching me that accomplishments do not come easy, working hard always pays off, and that money doesn’t buy happiness. I continue to learn from my parents mistakes and have made a fair share of my own along the way, and know now that is perfectly normal. I don’t have to be perfect at everything. I don’t have to earn $100,000 dollars a year to be seen as successful. The significance my parents placed on earning a degree and making good money means little when engulfed in the grips of an addiction. What my parents unknowingly taught taught their children was that happiness is not always instilled in people, but has to be planted, watered, and loved before it blooms. No, I don’t think ill of my parents in any way. Yes I wish my childhood held more happy memories, ones filled without drunken episodes, but I do have some fond good memories too; like the times when my father left work early just to take his kids to the park before sunset, the days my mother cracked jokes and laughed with her girls. I have learned to cherish the small things in the life, and I don’t think this gratitude would have come so easily had I not had the childhood I did, and for that I am forever grateful.