Robert Downey, Jr.Oh, Robert Downey, Jr., how do I love thee, and let me count the ways in which I am so proud of him. So thrilled to hear the news that Robert, 46, and wife Susan Downey, 37, are expecting their first child together. Bring on the good life and times for this family!
Robert and Susan "could not be more excited over this news," and Robert Downey, Jr. is about to get an even more amazing gift than this child with his beloved. He is going to, for the first time, experience the gift of sober parenting.
I am an alcoholic, but it is with great relief that I haven't taken a drink since the year before I became pregnant with my first child almost 10 years ago. The most amazing (and shocking) thing about sobriety is how much simpler life becomes when you stop indulging in your drug of choice.
When I drank, I was filled with angst and woe and worry, as well as guilt and shame and regret. That's not to say I don't feel these emotions some of the time in sobriety. I do. However, I'm not also forced to carry around a boatload of obsessive overthinking about drinking on top of it all -- When can I have my next drink? Will there be enough to drink? How many drinks should I have? Can I really stop at a set number? Can I trust myself to stick to one drink if I'm driving? How can I avoid doing anything regretful? How will I cope when I do something regretful? And on and on ... add "Will I hurt my kid?" to these worries, and the burden becomes unfathomable.
I cannot imagine being in my addiction while being a mother, especially a new mother or mother to young toddlers. Downey had his first son Indio, who is almost 18, right smack in the middle of his addiction ramp-up. Eventually, after continued rehab stints, arrests, and jail time, his marriage to Indio's mother Deborah Falconer dissolved, but Robert would never be able to recoup those early years of fatherhood with the clarity and simplicity of sobriety. It's undoubtedly a great loss for him. Not that his relationship with Indio can't, with work, be repaired and thrive in a beautiful way now that he's clean and sober, but there are some losses from our days "out there" that we just never get over.
Having a child is a true gift. However, being present and there for your child (and your partner) is the greatest gift of all. Congratulations, Robert and Susan. Their baby is due early 2012. Downey's new film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows comes out in December.
What can you share about the experience of sobriety or addiction and parenthood?
Image via Warner Brothers