Tallest Son hated me. He refused to let me go to his Confirmation. He regularly, and with great great force and creativity, told me how evil I was. His life was a great morass of misery, and I was the madame of it all.
There were a lot of reasons for his anger, but I assure you, I was not one of them. My theory is this: Mom is not going anywhere, so I'm gonna let her have it. She is a safe target.
I shed a lot of tears over this. It was very hurtful to be the target of so much undeserved anger. I prayed a lot. A lot. A lot. The prayer sustained me, and frankly, kept me from strangling him. (There was also some wine involved.)
Slowly, things got better. He developed more of a sense of humor, and a sense of perspective. We started to laugh together. We'd talk. He'd read a book, and share what he thought. I'd see a movie and ask his opinion. And so, one day, we had a relationship that was not based on mutual disgust, but on love. We are not alike in many ways, but we enjoy each other's company now, and can be respectful in all the right places.
And so it is, that one day, just a few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in an auditorium, watching a bunch of teenagers with mortar boards and tassels file in, and listening to Tallest Son give a graduation speech. He talked about the lessons he'd learned in high school - all pretty typical American stuff. And then he thanked his parents, and gave me a rose. Again, pretty typical stuff.
But to my heart, this was a milestone of joy and maturation. What I once thought impossible is now a reality: I'm very proud of him, and I'm glad to have him as my son.