Choosing your children

Choosing your children

There’s a line early in Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin’s new memoir “Unthinkable” that lingers long after the final pages.

He recounts all the people he loves, including his wife, relatives and the “splendid” colleagues he knows across America, but he readily admits …”there is no one I would rather be with on any given day than my own children.  It’s not even a close call…”

There was a time I couldn’t say that.

 In Jacob’s last year of high school, whenever he came home, he breezed through the door and disappeared into his room.  The more he retreated, the less we talked.

His room became his haven.  Candy wrappers, tossed off tee shirts and balled-up loose-leaf papers piled up ankle-deep on the floor, barring entry.  My son was building a fortress.

Almost overnight he became a young man I didn’t know.   Conversations narrowed to unanswered questions.  Monosyllables hung in the air.  The silence around us was so deafening that neither of us could mouth a sound.

His older sister, married with my newborn grandson, phoned frequently from her home across the country. I vowed never to allow more than three months to pass without seeing her.

But I didn’t want to be with her brother, and I am certain he felt the same about me.

Looking back, I realize this was another of addiction’s cruelty.  Addiction seized my son on the verge of adulthood, when conversations could have inspired hope, when just being near each other could have made memories.

Today – ten years in recovery for both Jacob and me – I am so grateful that addiction has given us a second language.  We often lapse into the words of AA and Al-Anon, and I revel in the times we are together.  It’s not only with Jacob, but also with his sister and their spouses.

Like the Congressman – even though I have a very loving spouse – there is no one I would rather be with on any given day than my children.   It’s not even close.