birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


Well, if I am going to be self-pitying and honest, I'd say it's unfair that my son became an addict.

Why? Why did that have to happen?

We were the "good" parents.

Weren't we?

We knew where they were as teenagers, and when we didn't we went on a mission to find them and bring them home.

There was a saying: "It's not a party until your dad shows up."

I did the detective work and my husband did the driving.

If our child called and checked in we didn't drag him out of parties, but he never called.


We had one kid who always checked in and one kid always didn't. We had a third, too, but the third child stuck close, probably because of the chaos she watched from a tender age, which turned out to be only a kind of floor show, a prelude.

But now she's eighteen and living away from home.



What am I to do?

I have asked her to make good decisions and I tell her I love her.

Back in the olden days when my boy reached a new level of crazy, I once asked another mother, "Don't you worry about where our sons are at night?"

She said, "Why should I? I take a Xanax and go to bed at ten."

That was not the answer I wanted to hear.

Hey you, wrong answer!

Now her son, wild as mine once, is sober.

And mine is still out there, spewing vindictives.

He is so mad at us for not putting up with his shit any longer. But he doesn't see it that way. He thinks we are brain-washed and that our attempt to regain our sanity has divided the family.

There is no convincing him otherwise.

So yes, it's unfair.

I carry guilt.

I carry shame.

What did I miss?

What did I not do?

But sometimes I wonder if he had stayed clean and sober and on the right path of his dreams of film and music - would I have somehow "modestly" taken credit?

Would there have been a smug and all-knowing part of me that thought, "If parents just pay attention to their kids, hang their art on the walls, show up and support them, be their champion, blah blah blah" then there would be no addicts?"

The thought has crossed my mind once or twice.

That's how dumb I was.

I thought if you loved them enough and tried to show this love then they couldn't help be thrive.

So nowadays, I try not to think about what's fair and unfair.

It just is.

And I try to take each day and do the right thing even when the sadness overwhelms me.

I look at other people whose children are disappointing, and I don't judge them for being good or bad parents.

It just is.

They just are.

It's not fair.

None of it's fair.

But it is just the way it is.

I try to have hope, but hope is a gun to the head, a knife in the belly.

So I don't hope anymore.

I don't try to fix or manipulate or beg or plead either.

I try to let it go.

Looking at trees helps.

So does a spoonful of pumpkin pie or a bite into a crisp apple.

Or painting or writing a story.

But I will never stop missing our boy who once looked out at the world with such joy and curiosity brimming as bright as sunlight on water.

Un-Commonn Weal

Fairness Divining Rod