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If you know me at all, you know I love a good quote. I recently loved a quote by Meryl Streep so much that I printed it and hung it with a plethora of pictures at my youngest son’s high school graduation party. Her words of wisdom: “You don’t have to be famous. You just have to make your mother and father proud of you.”

Isn’t that the honest to God truth? I am over half a century old and I’m still hoping to make my parents proud of me. Dad has been gone for two years now, but I still desperately want to make him proud, along with my mom.

Michelle Sprout Murray

Michelle Sprout Murray

It just occurred to me that no matter what my two sons do, I am constantly their biggest fan and I am always proud of them. Perhaps I’m making my parents proud just by being me, as my sons do every day.

Over the years, children find that they can do the smallest of things, and their parents will be over the moon. It starts when we’re babies. We coo or smile and our parents start doing cartwheels in happiness. We then utter a sound, which they make into something much more than it actually is. “Baba” becomes, “Please, mom, I’m a little thirsty, and that milk would taste great about now” in their ears.

Fast forward to movement, and just simply putting one foot in front of the other will cause a hysterical reaction in our parents. There’s nothing like that first solo step! Eating solid food, talking in complete sentences, and becoming familiar with the bathroom and the reasons for using it are also cause for celebration in our parents’ eyes.

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And then … the real milestones start to appear, and the “firsts” and “lasts” of every little snippet of life come and go…some with minor “Good Job” accolades and pats on the back, some with trips to Birdsall’s or Culver’s for a family celebration, and some with large parties to commemorate the event.

Although I have always been proud of my boys, I noticed it even more at each of their high school graduation parties. This smiling young man confidently conversing with all of his guests was the same tiny baby in my arms who looked up at me, trusting me to watch over him for his life. Even though my oldest son just graduated from college and my youngest just graduated from high school, they will always be my babies, and I will love them fiercely…but perhaps my “watch” is over now, and they will someday be watching over me.

I’ve joked about being excited to have an “empty nest,” but I’ll let you in on a little secret. I sometimes have to joke to avoid crying. It turns out I loved being a mom of two boys…well, not just ANY boys, but MY boys, Nic and Noah, in particular. I loved playing with them outside in the “medium park” across the street; I loved spending summers swimming at the pool with them; I loved seeing them in ALL of their activities, even if I had to learn new “sports lingo” to fit in with the rest of the crowd. I loved seeing them perform onstage, even more than I love being onstage myself. I loved celebrating milestone events with them, and I look forward to celebrating the many milestones ahead of them.

I am a proud mom, and all my boys ever had to do to earn my love and pride was just to EXIST. If there is a smile or a hug involved, it’s icing on the cake. I will always drop whatever I’m doing to listen to their stories. I will drive across town, across the country, or do whatever is necessary to get to them whenever they need me. Most of all, I will always be their number one fan and if they need a word of confidence, a word of consolation, or just a listening ear, they know who to call…or text…or message…anytime and anywhere.

Nic and Noah, you have made your parents proud. Now go out into the world, and follow your dreams. Dad and I will always be here for you…and we couldn’t ever have imagined the pride we would feel for two humans we are lucky enough to call our sons.

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Michelle Sprout Murray is a freelance writer who lives in Mason City with her family. She may be reached at sproutmurray@gmail.com.

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