Kristi Wesbrooks Tinin-Hodge is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Hi, My Name Is Mama – And My Son Is Addicted
My birth certificate states that my name is Kristi. In the Summer of ’97, that identity was lost to me.
It was an August morning, I was sitting at my desk no longer able to resist the temptation. There was a drug store downstairs, so I slipped out and snuck back into the bathroom at work. Shaking, I opened my purchase. It was the longest five minutes of my life, then it hit — the most euphoric feeling I’d ever had washed over me – I looked down and there it was, a plus sign on a little stick. In that instant, I was no longer me, I was someone’s mother.
Almost immediately, I began writing letters to my baby trying to pen my excitement, fear, and love on paper. Even before I knew he was a he, I knew I was his mother. I wrote these letters to my unborn child outlining plans for life and the love that already engulfed my heart.
In the Spring of ’98, my son was born. He came into this world full of fire and living up to his red hair and hazel eyes. The love and fierce protection I felt were overwhelming. I also had an immediate and new appreciation for my own Mother.
It was during his first year of life that I realized I had no idea what I was doing as a mother. Still, I recorded every little thing he did either on film or in writing. I imagined myself showing embarrassing, bath time pictures of him to my future daughter-in-law as we both looked at my son with love and adoration. I could not imagine loving him anymore, but daily, I did (I still do). Not once in any of these letters or visions of sugar plums did I ever write to this precious boy about what would happen when he became an addict. The thought never crossed my mind. There wasn’t anything in about that in the “What To Expect” books I read, either.
“While I hate the addiction, I love him.”
Here I am, 19 years later, Mother’s Day fast approaching and I am the mother of an addict. This wasn’t in the script. Where did I fail as a Mother? How do I fix this? What is my role now in my son’s life? I have no idea. My role as mama is so different than I pictured. Now, instead of hopes and dreams, I mostly write of how am I helping or enabling him. I write how thankful I am he is alive for me to write another letter. I remind him that my love is unconditional; and, that while I hate the addiction, I love him.
Daily, I remind myself that God chose me to be a mother, and not just any mother, this boy’s mother. So many women don’t get that blessing. For that, I am grateful. Every day is a new opportunity for my son to make changes. I know too how blessed I am to have that gift. So many women are mourning their children. I am still able to have hope for mine. I share that with him in these letters.
So much in my life has changed because of my son’s addiction, but one thing remains, he is my son. I am his Mama.
Kristi Wesbrooks Tinin-Hodge. Like my name, my life is complicated…. I’m a 40-something-year-old mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend who has had personal experience in loving someone and dealing with addicts and their addiction. Currently, my struggle is learning to cope with my 19-year-old son’s battle with addiction. Through God, family, friends, counseling, Prozac, and humor, I will find a way to survive.