Published on December 8th, 2017 | by Jennifer Gregory2
The Evil We Do and What is Remembered
“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” – Shakespeare
I was not a terrible mother. I never missed a school event. I made the dioramas. I read with my kids every night. I helped them prepare for no fewer than three competitive spelling bees.
I ran school carnival booths. I made the calls to the principals and superintendents when unjust policies were implemented.
My house was the spot where my son’s friends always came to hang out.
I gave an epic Jackass themed birthday party when my son turned 13 that remains legendary among his friends.
While my ex-husband often wouldn’t get up early on Saturdays, I never missed one of my daughter’s soccer games.
I sharpened two pencils for my son every morning and set them out before he left for school. I put a sticky note of encouragement in my daughter’s lunch each day.
I fought for them against abstinence-only education, ministers eating lunch in school without parental permission, and all the other ways Texas public schools sought to impose on my kids’ rights.
I worked on every college scholarship application with my daughter. I attended every college visit with her.
She and I have been to dozens of Broadway shows together.
I hold onto those memories.
Others, I can’t let go.
Because of my problems with alcohol, I remember a humiliating event where I chased my son trying to get him to try a drink in front of his cousin and friends. I know I got drunk the first day of my daughter’s freshman year and passed out that afternoon.
I began drinking in a dysfunctional manner off and on at age 28. I take responsibility for it. I’ve stupidly driven drunk. I’ve experienced the ire of both of my children in response to my drinking. I’ve spent years sober and spent months in relapses.
Addiction appears in the DSM-V as a disease. I will fight it for the rest of my life, but I live in fear that the evil overtakes the good in the memories of those I love.
My children know I’m sorry. I know they could tell you worse stories.
My mom was the “cool mom.” She was the first one who would stand up for me or any other underdog. She was funny, edgy…My friends all loved her.
Monetarily, I never wanted for anything. I grew up in suburban America. We went on vacations…nothing fancy: Tennessee, Arkansas, New Mexico. I had new school clothes and shoes every year. My mother never missed any event in which I participated.
I remember the silly songs my mother would sing to me. I sentimentally keep a list of them on my phone. I remember my mother’s laugh. I am remembering the good. I want the good to live on.
Like my own children, I will admit that it’s the “evil” I tend to remember more easily. Even as I sympathize with her, and continue to fight that urge.
My mother would get off work at 5:00 p.m. and disappear. I memorized the phone number of every regular bar she visited, every jail, and every hospital in the area.
She drove drunk, picking up a friend and me from the movie theater, drunkenly yelling out the window. Meanwhile the grease she’d put on the stove to cook chicken at home had caught on fire.
She passed out half-naked in my room was I was 13 and a friend was spending the night. We had to try to drag her to bed. This event occurred after a special night of her hurling pornographic obscenities at a Craig T. Nelson character and a Jim McMahon commercial while watching television with us.
She ran into a dumpster while driving home one night. She called us, but was so drunk she could not explain where she was.
My mother was a good mother.
She was flawed, as I am, as we all are, but she was my biggest ally when I was a child.
I do not want the good of her interred with her bones. I owe her the same that I hope for myself. Let my kids remember the good. Let that be my legacy. Let them remember it more than the bad, if they can. I wish it into the universe.
Throughout my years in sobriety, I met hundreds of mothers who face this challenge every single day. We are a community of women who love our children and understand each other. Reaching out to one another is our key to healing
Each day, even each hour, I make the choice and fight the battle, but I don’t have to do it alone.