I visited my 32 year-old daughter for a long weekend. She and my two beautiful grandchildren (boy 6 and girl 10) live a 12-hour drive away, so I don’t get to visit very often. I flew up on Wednesday evening and stayed until this past Monday. She had just purchased a home (she is a single mom and very determined to be self-sufficient). She sent me a text a few days before my flight to make sure she had all my flight details. She mentioned that she had a large bottle of Chardonnay chilling in the fridge for me. Oops. We don’t talk much about me. Her life is full of “stuff” with an annoying ex-husband, two busy kids, and a job whose profit depends on a strong economy. Add to that the purchase of her first house…we talk mostly about her.
So, I sent a text back and matter-of-factly stated that I don’t drink any longer. Hopefully the wine won’t go to waste. I knew it wouldn’t since she loves her evening glass(es) of wine. She immediately sent a text to my husband “why didn’t you tell me mom doesn’t drink anymore” “what the heck!” To which my husband responded, “I didn’t know it was my job to keep you up-to-date with Mom.”
Well, I was determined to get there and talk about ME. I wanted her to know why I quit drinking. I wanted her to know alcoholism is a real disease that runs in our family. I wanted her to know how happy I am now and all that I am doing with my spare time. Never did I want to talk about her drinking. I was not going to go there.
How do you start that conversation. I casually dropped hints while we were unpacking boxes. The new drinks I enjoy, the paintings I’ve created, the piano I’m playing. NO RESPONSE. I told her I no longer need my BP meds or heartburn meds. NO RESPONSE. I told her I no longer take my anti-depressants. NO RESPONSE. I kept waiting for her to ask me about my life. NOTHING. So, in desperation, when we had some quiet time, I blurted it out.
“We need to talk,” I said. “I need to tell you why I quit drinking.” “I am an alcoholic, I attend AA, I blog with other alcoholics, I bake, I read novels and remember them, blah, blah, blah.” She didn’t even blink. I asked her why it was so difficult to talk to her. I asked her if she knew enough about me to write my obituary. I asked her if she knew what I did for a living.
Geeez…I just threw it out there with no response or emotion from her. If my mom told me that shit I would have hugged her and broken into tears. You’d think that my daughter and I were estranged, but we’re not. We have really good times together (usually drinking) She counts on me to help her through stuff, to unpack boxes, help her decorate, have fun with the kids. We’ve always been close, but it’s always been about her.
Just this once I wanted it to be about me. Well now she knows. And I know she is on the phone with her sister saying, “Did you know about Mom?!” I know she’ll talk to her dad when he visits next week. I just don’t know why she didn’t want to have the conversation with me.
One of the bloggers (maybe Paul?) said something very wise. “Only alcoholics really care if you’re not drinking.” Or something like that. I guess that’s true.