a&e’s Intervention: How Addicts Have Inspired Me To Be a Better Mom

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Some say they can hardly stand to watch A&E’s “Intervention” because it is too sad.  Some say they are addicted to Intervention and need an intervention for Intervention.  I’m not necessarily addicted to it, but when my husband watches the DVR’d shows, I stayed glued to the set.  I watch and stare and cry and gasp and get a sad look and get hopeful and cry some more and hold my breath.  I hold my breath at the end every time.  My heart is so hopeful that the addict has recovered at the end.

When the show is about a parent, and especially when it is about a mother, I come away from watching it thinking the same things.  I think the same things because the kids of the addicts always seem to miss the same things from the mother they once knew.  They seem to alway say,

“She used to cook for us.”

“She used to clean up the house.”

“She used to sit down and eat with us.”

“She used to play in the yard with us.”

“She used to be there for us.”

“She used to be at all of our games.”

“She used to listen to me.”

“She used to be my best friend.”

“She used to wash our clothes.”

“She used to help me with my homework.”

“She used to pick me up from school.”

“She used to volunteer at our school.”

“She used to throw birthday parties for us.”

These acts of service made these children feel loved at one time.  I honestly remember feeling comforted as a child when I heard the washing machine running.  It was like it reminded me that someone was taking care of me.  Someone cares that I don’t sleep on the sheets I peed on the night before.  Someone cares that I smell good.  When my mom lit candles in the house, it reminded me that she wants our house to be a place of warmth.  She usually only lit them just after the house got cleaned.

We all know actions speak louder than words.  I think this is even more true for a child of an addict.  Words become empty to them.  They have heard empty promises and maybe have even heard “I love you” over and over from their addicted parent, but they don’t see any action behind the words.  So, what they hold on to, what they cling to, are the physical things that made them feel loved.  I guess, somehow, it makes me want to cook more, clean more, play more, listen more, wash more (okay, now I’m taking it too far), but…you see what I’m getting at here.  These acts of service make them feel loved.

I think we all get it that addiction is bad, obviously.  The thing that strikes me even more about the show is how much kids miss their mother when she is gone from them. Quoting a 17-year-old from the show I watched tonight, “Being without a mother is terrible.  It really sucks.”  They need us at all ages.  I need my mother now.  My heart hurts for those who have lost their mothers.

The fact remains that on so many days mothers (and fathers) may feel unappreciated by their children, especially as we are raising them. We may feel taken for granted.  We are appreciated, though.  We so are.  They don’t have to say it to make it true.

The other thing I’ve learned from this show is that all kids are the same.  Many times, addicts have kids, but, every time, the addict is someone’s kid.  In both instances, kids desire the same things- be it the addict or the child of an addicted parent.

-All kids want to be loved.

-All kids want their parents’ attention.

-All kids want their parents not to fight.

-All kids want their parents to laugh with them.

-All kids want to have their mother and father listen to them.

-All kids want individual attention.

-All kids want to feel safe.

-All kids want to feel protected.

-All kids want to feel like they measure up in their parents’ eyes.

-All kids want to feel like no matter how much they’ve messed up, the love their parents have for them has not decreased.

-All kids want their parents to be on their side.

I know that this isn’t a funny post.  This isn’t a humor post.  I’m typically all about the humor, but today I felt compelled to remind you, and to remind me, that the “little” things we run around and do every day–like laundry, cooking, shopping, errands, carpooling, volunteering (if we are able), working, cleaning– the things that make us want to pull out our hair at times, matter. 

They matter because they make our children feel loved.

(Remind me of that later, would you?)

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