By Raj, Renascent Alumni
The other day, my daughter asked me to make pancakes for breakfast. My youngest son, who doesn’t eat anything his sister eats, demanded crepes. Everything is to be made from scratch as per our breakfast tradition. I paused for a moment, frustrated at the parenting task of managing these seemingly daunting tasks simultaneously during yet another busy weekend morning.
Not long ago, I wasn’t home most of the time. Lost in my active addiction, I was unreliable and unloving. No one expected me to make breakfast let alone be home. And I didn’t think my addiction impacted my kids at all. My youngest was quiet, shy, kept to himself. My daughter was anxious. It was just their personality.
After attending the in-patient program at Sullivan House my wife signed us up for the Children’s Program on Isabella Street. I didn’t think it was necessary. I never drank or used at home and I never told them of my disease. They were puzzled.
They nonetheless persevered and enjoyed the children’s program. It was fabulous! They made some friends, shared feelings, made a safe list of people they could talk to, and drew a picture of “addiction”. The pictures were ugly. Big dark horrible monsters that filled the page. It was then that it hit me. Sadness, guilt and shame filled me. Then with the program, came hope. And healing.
My kids still attend the Children’s Program on Zoom. They love it. And my youngest isn’t shy and quiet. He is happy, loud and funny. My daughter isn’t anxious. She is happy and loving. And loves to bake with me. They are going to be YouTube stars.
It wasn’t a smooth ride for me. I attended the virtual outpatient program some time later. And it seems to have stuck this time. One day at a time, I heal and grow and become a better person, husband, and father.
I have an older son from my first marriage that isn’t in my life right now. I reach out to him regularly and let him know that I take full responsibility for my actions. And that I’m there for him when he’s ready to reconnect. It’s painful and I miss him. But I know that I can be a father to him now, when he’s ready.
I’ve been thinking a lot of my own father recently. He’s a rock. Always there for me. A role model. That’s I want to be for my kids. And a multitasking, expert pancake and crepe maker.
Thank you Renascent for showing me how to be a better father and how to be a son. Happy Father’s Day!