Last night I attended a 12 Step meeting at which my son, Matt, received his one year sober coin. I'm not going to lie . . . I cried :) This time last year I could not have imagined who he would be today--and imagination is my job.
Part of the meeting last night was a speaker with three years sobriety sharing his story. Something he said has really stayed with me. He shared about the day he called his dad and told him, "I need to go to rehab." And to this day, he says his dad talks about how that was the proudest moment of his life. The young man told us last night, "I know what he's trying to say there, but it always makes me a little sad that me becoming a slightly less shitty person is his proudest moment."
Yes, it was funny and meant to be. I laughed with everyone else. But as a mom, there were a couple things I've wanted to say to him since. Things I suppose I want to say to my own son.
I have been proud of lots of things in your life. How could I not be? You're the oldest :) I've been proud of your intelligence and your curiosity. Of your gentleness and your sensitivity. I was proud when your Knowledge Bowl team was getting crushed when you were in 5th or 6th grade and you cried in the bathroom after a round in which your team did not answer a single question . . . and then you dried your tears and came out and competed in the next round anyway. I was proud that you were in the Gifted and Talented science/math program in middle school. I was proud of you going onstage for the talent show and doing "White and Nerdy." I was proud of your acceptance to the University of Washington and the good grades you got in the physics program.
Nothing has made me prouder than watching you this last year. Not because you were "becoming a slightly less shitty person." But because you are doing work that most people in our society avoid--honestly and unflinchingly looking at yourself and your life. Admitting your mistakes. Making amends. Doing things every day that you don't want to do. Like talk to new people and reach out to strangers and make phones calls (yes, you are my son!) And every day you are doing these hard things without the coping mechanism that still has the ability to sing the siren song of relief.
How hard is that? Well, I've never been able to stick to a diet for longer than three weeks. Or a serious exercise plan for more than six months. And I still look for ways to avoid honestly evaluating my mistakes and weaknesses. Or, if I do evaluate them, I rarely go to great lengths to change them unless forced into it, usually by trauma. And I certainly don't do it publicly.
So this year, what you have accomplished? It's required more than the intellectual gifts you were born with. It's required more than our family had the ability to give. It's required that you wake up, every single day, and do the work. You. Not me. Not anyone else. You have chosen to do this work and, with the grace of God and those He sent into your life, you continue to choose.
And that is why I have never been more proud.