I still remember sitting at the dining room table with my family one night. I can’t remember what we had for dinner, but that my dad was there at the same time we were eating. We’d started the meal when my mom asked, “What do you think about my new doily?”
My dad stopped chewing, slowly let his eyes drift around the space, looked at my mom and said, “It looks nice.”
We all started laughing because we knew that he didn’t know what a doily was. And when it was pointed out to him, he did say with sincerity that it looked nice.
My dad has gone to more piano recitals than most men. Of course he made it when us kids were playing, but my mom is a piano teacher – has been for years – and he was at almost every single recital she hosted over the years. As her clientele expanded, she would break the recitals into two, and then three. He stayed for them all.
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We are approaching the time of year when I will spend several weekends at dance competitions. I know that a lot of the terms in dance are French, that pointed toes are important but not always in modern or hip hop. I know that dancers walking out on a stage make grown-ups scream and cheer – more so when the dancers are really little, have a decent amount of sass, and shake their tutus.
But I don’t love dance competitions. The noise, the people, the sitting and waiting for hours to watch a 3-5 minute dance and then repeat are not the ways I would choose to spend my days.
A few weeks ago, I took my youngest daughter to buy pointe shoes. I looked up pictures and instructions about how to sew the ribbons on, stressed and recruited my mom to help. I bought the big bag with the wheels and the optional changing curtain to prepare for the many more weekends of dance that are sure to head my way. And though I’ve never been one prone to loud outbursts, each time she finishes a dance, I clap and clap and clap.
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My husband has bought me several office chairs. He went with me when my back declared war, helping me up and down into chair after chair until we found the one that would provide support in a way that would help with the pain.
He has supported and encouraged me when I want to escape for a few hours or a few days and write. Taking care of the kids and running them to things (sometimes with assistance from either my mom or his), he has made it okay for me to miss an occasional recital or performance by sincerely encouraging me to chase my dream.
I can easily identify the number of books he has read in the 17 years we’ve been married. He would rather do two or three dozen things before he would want to sit down to write anything more than job related correspondence. Books and writing aren’t his thing, but he celebrated enthusiastically every time I got a full request for my book, and even more so when I signed with my agent.
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My dad didn’t have to learn how to crochet or play the piano to appreciate the work my mom did. I don’t have to know the ins and outs of dance to admire the dedication and work my daughter puts into this art. My husband doesn’t have to read my books to encourage me to succeed.
In fact, the aptitude difference may be just the thing that makes the effort, work, and appreciation all the more meaningful because that person extending the effort loves enough to want to try.