This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Family Days at my son’s residential treatment center. I not only got to spend time with my son, but also engaged in parent support groups, educational discussions about processing struggles, and teacher conferences. It was an exhausting but informative few days, and reassured me that my son’s placement is the correct one.
On the way down in the car my phone rang and the number was one associated with my son’s school. I immediately engaged in “phone flinch” thinking, what happened now, did he do something again, is he struggling? This has been the pattern of phone calls and texts for over a year. Every time I have a call from him or where he is, my heart stops because I fear the bad news.
As my son was on the line he said, “Mom, they are short players for the basketball game tonight is it okay if I go?” “We have to travel so I won’t be able to see you tonight, but I can meet you in the morning.” I quickly had to process what he was saying and practically screamed “of course” into the phone. My child, who had barely wanted to leave his room at many times during the last 18 months is asking to go play in a basketball game? Amazing! For some, your child asking to play in a basketball game is a regular occurrence. For us this was a large step forward, and a sign he was beating the depression. He was choosing to engage in the program and life. After I hung up the phone, I cried some tears of joy in the car and thought I can’t believe how happy I am that my son asked to play in a basketball game.
That event was the start of me working to celebrate the little victories throughout the weekend, and on our journey thus far. During the weekend, multiple staff approached me to share how much they enjoy my son, and how his smile brightens their day. I also sat back and smiled as he went up to the kitchen staff and thanked them for their hard work preparing a yummy lunch for 100 students and parents. Plus, he informed me that he has decided to continue to play basketball and was excited about it. As each of these events occurred, I smiled, praised him, and thought we are making progress. The young man I know and raised is starting to emerge again.
On the way home, I reflected on these little victories and had a new appreciation for them. So often we focus on the large celebrations of our children. During this journey I can’t sit and wonder why me, why our family. I can’t focus on how hard it has been for all of us to have him struggle and gone. I know there are going to be steps backward in this process, but I need to get off the daily roller coaster of the ups and downs and make a conscious effort on focusing on the path forward and celebrate the tiny victories. This is allowing me to take joy in him finding himself, the light, and his path again.