Seeing and reflecting

Last week my daughter had her first ever dance concert. The concert itself was a logistical feat, with 56 dance items over 3 hours in the cavernous Frankston Centre for the Performing Arts. When I saw the length of the programme, I gripped my husband’s arm so tight he nearly developed gangrene. However, I found the whole concert quite entertaining, and unexpectedly touching. The kids danced so enthusiastically and with such whole heartedness. Their families whooped through the entire event with every wiggle and leap.

My favourite part is when Dylan caught sight of us in the audience and smiled the biggest heart bursting smile, and I looked back at her father and saw the same smile reflected in his face.

I had this thought then – love is two people being witness to each other. Your children ask “Do you see me?”. We as parents say “Yes I do, in all your glory.”

We do this with our kids all the time but we mustn’t forget to do it with our partners.

Sometimes when we fall in love, we think “This person is my soulmate! He’s just like me! I can’t believe he hummed that song when I was thinking of it etc. etc.” That’s falling in love with a reflected image of yourself. And you then get disillusioned when you realise the person you’re married to is quite different really, and unfathomable at times, with different values, ways of communication and ways of interpreting things. “He’s an idiot!” we think, “if that were me, I would never have done that…” and then we close ourselves off and stop growing.

After many years of marriage, I think it’s very important to appreciate the separateness of your partner. That he or she is a unique, flawed, frustrating miracle. Perhaps the entire point of life is learning to connect with people who are not you. Or learning that you know nothing. Like that chinese saying “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.”

We can never walk in any one’s shoes truly, but even when we don’t understand, we can say “I see you. I see you for all you are and I love you.” And we can be grateful.

And in that moment, you can see in a grown person’s face, the surprise and happiness of a child at a dance concert who has been seen and loved. Waving!

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