No Motherly Instinct
By April Pfrogner
Family members used to tell me that I lacked the instinct of
a mother. I have a bunch of kids so that hurt. Being lost in the powerlessness
of addiction, I was on my own for ten years. I missed doctor’s appointments,
first days of school; other people cooked them hundreds of dinners that I
should have cooked. Something happened to me in those years that I seemingly
could not get back. My instinct was to chase the crack pipe or a bag of dope.
It was a part of me. It’s what I did, every day, day in and day out. Devotion
to their well- being was a job I lost to someone else.
Drugs cripple the mind so badly that while in addiction, I
actually told people I had no kids. My mind blocked it out. Rendered powerless
to a drug also rendered me powerless to every other broken aspect of my life.
Acting as if they didn’t exist was easier for my brain to accept I guess.
People say that “their kids helped them get clean” but I can say that knowing
that I ruined my kids’ lives kept me using drugs some days. I once went to take
a hit of crack and looked down at a picture of my son. I could not take the hit
before I turned his picture away from me. I couldn’t stand seeing a picture of
them, let alone live and in person anymore.
My grandfather grows a huge garden and cans vegetables the
old fashioned way every year. I remember watching the process. He said it
preserved the veggies for a long period of time and kept them from going to
waste. Just like my grandfather preserves food God preserved the good in me as
well. We burn brain cells and destroy our bodies in addiction but the
resilience I have seen in my life and other addicts is amazing. We are reminded
of our defects of character in the 12 steps but our assets are what help us
DEAL with the defects. I believe God vacuum seals our assets. Coming into
recovery, we break the seal open again.
The memory is long. I believe I chose to forget about my
kids as a defense mechanism. Forgetting does not erase the memory though. New
in recovery I would cry as I started remembering things about them. I
remembered my son dancing in the yard as a baby, with a sunhat on. I remembered
that he started talking before he was a year old and I called him “the smartest
boy alive.” I remembered being proud of him and being very protective. Vivid memories of all the kids rolled through
my mind. Some good, most were bad. The ones of my oldest son are the most
prevalent because he was with me for much longer than the others. My younger
son and daughters were only with me for short periods of time so I lacked the
same connection with them. I kept having kids and addiction placed them with my
family. Coming into recovery, I still lacked a connection with the younger
When I had 2 years clean and sober I started visiting the
kids on a weekly basis. All were happy to see me except for the oldest. He
would ignore me during the visits and play computer games. One day I handed him
my two year NA key tag. I thought he would be proud that I was clean. Instead,
he shrugged at it and tossed it on the table.
At three years clean a judge gave me back full custody. My
son was in the court room and he smiled when the judge said it. That year, I
gave my son my 3 year AA coin. He put it in his pocket. I was glad he didn’t
just toss it down. He was beginning to talk to me. He was starting to feel at
At five years clean and sober, I realized that my son was
addicted to drugs. Drastic action on my part had to be taken. Recovery had
taught me boundaries. Going to any length for my own recovery taught me to go
to any length for my son’s recovery. This meant I had to get out of the way. He
moved in with his father and decided to admit he is an addict and start a
recovery program. I see him frequently. He looks good and sounds good.
When he got a month clean, I gave him my five year AA coin
that said, “To thine own self be true.”
He looked at me like he finally understood the significance of the coin.
He smiled and placed it on his dresser.
How does the song go? Cat’s in the Cradle with the silver
spoon…I don’t even know what happened to the cradle I had for my son. If I saw
it I’d probably cry anyway. I can’t go back and do it again. This makes me want
to make today count though. Today is all we have. I know I didn’t lose my motherly instinct.
The fact that I worry about each and every one, tells me so. The fact that I
will go to any length to keep them from traveling the death road I traveled,
tells me so. Addiction can only take so much. It couldn’t get my soul. My soul
belongs to an even higher power. Thanks to that Higher Power, what was good in
me is STILL good and what is good in my son is STILL good, and recovery makes the
“Good” even BETTER!