The P Word

And now for the writing of the mother.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between feeling proud of Asher and taking pride in him. (Which is an interesting turn of phrase, isn’t it? Taking pride?)

Pride is one of those things that we get a lot of conflicting information about. It probably gained the most notoriety when it landed on the list of 7 deadly sins, but these days pride is to be worked toward. Women’s pop culture mandates being proud of who you are or how you walk or the way that you’re aging or how you got those snow chains on your tires or some other somesuch. I have zero expertise for what I’m about to say here, so take it up with your personal anthropologist before you call Dr Phil on me, but my sense is that all of this discussion about learning how to take pride in flower arranging is backlash from centuries of not taking enough pride in our accomplishments, and we all understand why. No wants to be bragged to, and once you’re hip to that you hope not to be the braggart. It seems though that there is a difference between the kind of pride that we can feel guilty of when we’re splashing around what makes us awesome and the kind of pride that we feel when we look at our children and our knees buckle.

I’m bringing all of this up because I want to talk about being proud of Asher, but not in the context of his accomplishments, more in the context of the inexplicable and overwhelming feeling that will occasionally sneak up on me as I’m watching him just exist in such a sure and content way. The feeling is so strange because I’m certainly not proud of anything that I’ve done in that moment, I’m not proud in a measurable way, it’s more like I’m sucking in air trying to get a handle of feeling gratitude and awe and humanity and yes, pride, that I feel as it tumbles around in my brain and heart knowing that I’m standing as witness to something, or more importantly, someone.

Drew and I have been joking for a while that Asher is going to cut us off after his first kindergarten play because we will drown all of the other parents with our awful ocean of tears. It’s a really weird phenomenon, but ever since bringing this son sun into the world, we have become completely worthless in the face of anything that moves us. (For those of you that have watched me try to talk about Lady GaGa and her Born This Way commitment, you know what I’m talking about.) My instinct is to profusely apologize to everyone for being such a sap and make an immense amount of fun of us for not having a better handle on our proud weepies, but I guess the truth is that I would rather Asher see us choke up occasionally because of who he is than ever wonder for even a second if we are anything less than his biggest champions. And yes, yes, we promise to get a handle on things before you debut as the Thanksgiving Turkey in your school play, but cut us some slack if we do a little internal freak out when we see you up there.

I’m of the school of thought that children rise to the standard that is set for them and then pay that forward by setting higher standards for themselves. My sister-in-law Ashley wrote about taking delight in our children, and I got so excited reading her words and thinking about all of the times ahead of us that we are going to have the wind knocked out of us because we’re so thankful to be in some random moment with our kids. It also made me think that the optimal way that we feel pride in our lives is not when we go seeking out recognition, but when we are affirmed and recognized by the people whose opinions we regard in the highest way. For at least a little while longer, Drew and I are those people in Asher’s life, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about with this discussion of pride.

Becoming a mother and having the opportunity watch life from the ground up is a weird and wild and messy ride, but at the end of the day, it’s also a mirror. Some of what I’ve seen reflected back over the last couple of years has been empowering and some of it has been a wake-up call, and a lot of it has been humbling, but it’s also been an expression of joy in a way that would potentially have escaped me if we hadn’t been tasked with raising this little boy into a man. I think if anything, maybe that’s how I can make sense of calling it pride…we’re getting older and loosening our grip on a sense of time, but then we look at Asher and he anchors us right here. We can tell a difference between before and after, then and now, because we are watching him grow and change and it’s slowly dawning on us that he’s pulling us along for that ride too.

I am so proud of you, Asher Walton. So proud.