Auditions for my oldest daughter’s ballet show are always a tough day in my house. Luckily, this is my wife’s deal. She’s been dancing, auditioning, judging, for years and years so she knows the highs and lows. She knows to be home no more than a few feet away from my daughter until the cast list goes out. She studied the roles, knows which roles my daughter will be okay with, and which ones require her to use all her Mom skills to help to and be a shoulder to cry on. We may fight, and hate each other sometimes, love each sometimes, be divorced or die in each other arms in 50 years, but her best role, the best thing she ever did was be a Mom to our girls. I’m good in the easy parenting moments. But my wife, she’s good in the hard parenting moments. She’ll always be the reason those kids succeed in life.
Just last Sunday was audition day. My daughters a beautiful dancer. I have no doubt in her ability, I hold no stock in what role she gets. My eyes will be glued to her in whatever role she gets to play. So, to me, nothing about today is that difficult. ButI can see in my wife’s whole body. She is wearing that stress. The youngest and I can feel it. We knew to get out for a few shopping adventures to stay away from my wife.
To my daughter, the role or part she gets is EVERYTHING. Itgives her a sense of where she stands with her teachers, her friends. She’s also 16, on the verge of getting her license and freedom, in this crappy covid time. All that’s to say, she’s a bit emotional. She arrives home from the audition and I know I have lost my wife for the night. Any help with dishes, laundry or whatever other task that needed to be done would be left just to me. They start talking about how everything went. Every little detail of what role she thinks she may get, how she missed a step here or there, how this teacher said this or that. My wife loves this part of being a Mom. She gets to talk dancing, something she has done literally her entire life with her almost driving age daughter. I’m sure when she dreamed of kids this was something she pictured over and over again.
The night slows down a bit, everyone settles into their normal routines, when my oldest says she just got the cast list email. My wife rushes in to hear. My youngest turns her tv off to eavesdrop and I walk away. I grab a few clean plates and wash them again. I pace in the kitchen, trying to see if I here laughter or crying. I finally make my way into her room to ask her what role she got. She tells me, and I remember that being on my wife’s “she would be happy with this role” list. I go back to the kitchen rewashing a few clean coffee mugs, smiling, because I know my wife’s job will be a lot easier tonight. The weight she carried all day was gone. But, if you know anything, nothing can be that simple. There are other roles and other things to gossip about and discuss between Mom and Daughter. I pace in the kitchen a few times, thinking to myself, it’s pretty late, can I go to bed, or do I have to still be a Dad tonight. I pace and I pace and finally figure that maybe my oldest is hungry, so I grab her a piece of apple pie and I walk into her room and interrupt Mom and Daughter and just ask her if she wants a piece of pie. Mom and Daughter lock eyes and start dying laughing. Both saying at the same time that I was just like my Dad. They said they couldn’t believe that was me. They say me as my Dad in that moment. They were losing it. I was a bit puzzled. I thought maybe she’d be hungry. I thought apple pie helped with everything.
Tonight, I decided to go for a walk. It’s a bit cold out so I started to put a few layers on. Put on the long johns and my best pair of athletic pants, and the winter hat. Then I tucked my long sleeve shirt into my pants. As I did this, I walked into my oldest daughters’ room and she almost passed out. She took a quick picture of me and texted it to my whole family saying, “When did Bupa (my Dad) get here?” My youngest and my wife joined in on the laughs. I put on my big heavy sweatshirt, chuckled a bit with them and then heading out for my walk.
Twice in 2 days I have been compared to my Dad. Just as my wife probably dreamed of these dance conversations with her kids, I dreamed of being a Dad just like him. Hard working, dedicated, loyal, and puts his wife’s needs first, his kids second, his grandkids, his brothers and sisters, a girlfriend of one of his crappy kids, a stranger off the street, and then, finally, lastly himself. He’s always been my barometer. Be just a little like him and you’ll do just fine.
As I walked today, in my ridiculous outfit, I thought of how silly it was I offered my daughter apple pie in such a stressful time. How, that was my response to her needs. Something or I guess someone told me, feed her, it’s the least you can do. While her Mom fixes her heart, you fix her stomach. You know, sometimes when I go to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner, I hardly say more than a few words to my Dad. It’s never been his words I held onto anyway. It’s all his actions. All those moments I never noticed as I was growing up, it’s stuff I didn’t learn until my kids came around. So, getting compared to him will never not make me proud. Sure, he dresses like an idiot on those cold days out for his walk, but I’ll tell you from my own personal experience, he’s warm as hell.
I love my Dad, and I love that I get to say that…