November was heritage month at my son’s preschool. They sent home a poster board where we were supposed to put some pictures of traditional dress, food, celebrations from our country of origin. I’m a western-European mutt with no real knowledge or connection to my heritage. My husband is a New York Italian, so I figured it would be easiest to just go with Italy. I Googled some images and pasted them to the board. I tried to get my almost-4-year-old involved but he really wasn’t interested. There was a sign-up for parents to pick a day to come in and share something about their heritage, but I kept putting off signing up because I just wasn’t sure what I had to contribute. I’m not even slightly Italian, especially now that I don’t partake in any of the things that I thought were most interesting about Italy- wine, dairy, gluten & sugar. Thank God I still have cured meats.
Looking back, I realize I was fretting about this quite a bit. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, so I didn’t want to even try. Were ALL of the other parents doing this? At one point I observed another mom teaching the kids a Korean children’s song and my ego freaked out. I procrastinated on it until November ended. I was relieved, but I admit I felt like I got away with something.
Until Friday night when at bedtime I asked my son about heritage month and he burst into tears. Bear in mind, getting him to tell me anything about school is like pulling teeth. His only topics of conversation are Power Ranger and Spider-man, so when he looks at me with a quivering lip and says, “All the other mommies came to my school and talked about heritage except you and that made me so sad,” I was just leveled. I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t believe that he noticed, that it mattered. He’s only 3! I fucked up. I looked him in the eye and made a sincere apology. I’ve already emailed the teacher and am going to go in and talk about pasta in the next couple weeks.
I’m grateful for this experience because it has shown me that I don’t have to be drinking for my alcoholism to get in the way of me showing up for my kids. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my desire for the spotlight and what that’s all about. My need for attention and praise at the public level is what prevented me from doing a heritage month presentation. If I can’t have the best presentation, then I don’t want to have to do it at all. I want the teachers and other parents to be humbled by my awesomeness and fawn over me while I feign humility. In this defect, I hurt my son. I’m also seeing how I have hurt my husband who tells me all the time that I’m awesome, but I’d rather be affirmed by the number of “likes” my Facebook posts get. I guess it’s really just grand-scale codependence.
It’s a good fucking thing that the 11th Tradition exists. I know the solution is the same for every other problem I have. Sponsor, higher power, meditation, 7th step, help someone. It’s not gone yet, though, so I’ll anxiously be awaiting your replies. 😉