Storytime: Why my son’s achievement made me cry

So, Aidan walked away with the Grade 2 prize for the best reader and seeing him with the trophy made me cry.

 Not because I value academic achievement that much, but because for us it meant more than academic achievement, it meant that he has been able to succeed despite mourning his great-grandfather and my aunt and that although my health affected him, he persevered. 

I’ve been pretty vocal about believing that standardised testing isn’t the best way to evaluate children’s skills, because everybody has a different set of skills and should be treated accordingly.  But I must be honest, this year, having my son walk up on stage (okay he did not really walk up, he froze out of shock)  to receive the award meant a lot. And I thought about it. I wondered why I suddenly found myself caring. And it’s simple. It means we didn’t fail. And when I say that, I mean Aidan had a very tough year. He lost someone he really cared about and his mom has spent at least a quarter of her time in hospital and doctors offices and the rest of the time in bed. 

He has had to learn to cook meals for himself because I’m not always up to it. He had to learn to do his homework without assistance a lot of the time because the fatigue meant I could not focus.

He has had to learn to be self-sufficient when it comes to getting himself ready for bed and getting himself ready in the morning because I had to take on extra shifts to pay for medical bills. I spent a lot of time this year feeling like a useless mother, feeling like I had failed him and that he would be so much better off with someone else. 

Luckily for me, his dad is a complete hands-on father. We don’t do parenting 50/50. It is 100% each, and because this year, I could not give my 100%, he had to up his game – but even so, I’m the one at home with him most of the time. Mom guilt is tricky, you still find yourself thinking, maybe I could do more, maybe I could be there more. 

But I couldn’t.  Aidy came to me this weekend saying that he thinks I’m doing better. I haven’t passed out in a while. I’ve been able to stay awake for most of the day. He doesn’t hear me vomiting as much. And my eyes and skin look brighter, my bruises have even faded. And these are things I thought I had hidden from him. But no, he was and is well aware of how my health has affected me. 

He sees how swollen my hands and face are. He notices that sometimes I can’t even walk up the stairs without needing a rest. And it must have taken so much out of him, but he persevered. And he didn’t just persevere, he thrived. 

So when he got the trophy I sat there and I cried because through it all this kid has been able to hold his head up high and show everybody what he is capable of. And it made me feel like somehow in my drug-addled, sick state, I did something right.

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