One major worry prior to my recent Israel trip is that I would get annoyed with my dad and Susan. Susan did annoy me, mostly by complaining about a lot of stuff that we couldn't do anything about and contradicting me. I didn't confront her, I just tried to put my viewpoint forward and only insist on being heard—not on being correct. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't saint-like or anything, but I managed my irritation well and, for the most part, got along fine with everyone.
A couple of things about my time with Dad stuck with me. First, he made a point of telling me that I was beautiful, which he does every time he sees me "dress up"—and other times too. This trip, he told me after the wedding, when we got home and were pouring ourselves out of our sweaty clothes. I was wearing a pretty dress that didn't fit me very well and almost no make up. I shrugged it off when he said, "You're really beautiful, you know," but it was good of him.
I'm lucky to have a dad who has always made me feel beautiful. Knowing your father sincerely thinks you're attractive, both inside and out, gives you a kind of confidence that can't be obtained any other way. I think it's totally necessary and helpful. I have lots of friends who never got this from anyone in their family or who got negative messages—from either Mom, Dad or both. (My mom is not quite as consistent as Dad, but with very few exceptions has always given me positive messages about my attractiveness—and has consistently encouraged me to dress in a flattering way.)
I know Dad's not saying nice things to make me feel better, he says them because it's sincerely how he feels. He's awkward about it, and I'm awkward accepting it, but I do appreciate it. It's been priceless to know that a man sincerely found my looks, my shape, attractive. I haven't had to build up my confidence because it's always been there. Maybe a lot of that is just my personality, my temperament, but certainly my father (and mother) helped.
The other thing Dad said, in a more conversational context, was how I sent away some boyfriends who he liked. I laughed and asked how many of my boyfriends had he actually met. We had this talk in the car in the presence of B2 (Mr. Ultra-Orthodox), so I felt a little weird about it, but that didn't stop me. The guy dad had in mind was the guy I usually call "the best boyfriend ever"—and I guess I'm not the only one who thought of him that way (he's Mom's favorite too). Dad asked, "Why did you get rid of him? I liked him."
"I liked him too. But I moved to NC and…well, I didn't know how to deal with the long distance."
"I can understand that."
We went through the handful of others he'd met, including the second DC-boyfriend (pre-blog) Dad said, "I did like him so much."
"Really? Why not? I didn't like him so much either, actually."
"He didn't seem to have enough regard for you."
"Interesting." That surprised me because, if anything, that guy had too much regard for me. However, he and I were in the middle of a terrible fight when Dad met him, so that probably lead to the poor impression. Or Dad has excellent instincts. Maybe some of both?
"That's my standard for my children's partners—they have to adore them."
"Huh." I thought, 'Why isn't that my standard for my partners?'
So, that's my test for the next boyfriend: you adore me or I'm not playing. The end.
Grateful for: high standards.