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What A Girl Wants

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One of the things I love about my Dad is how supportive he is of my Mom. He is the type of man that respects and is inspired by a strong woman. He is soft-spoken, stoic and often hard to read because his logic and reasonability outweigh his attention to detail or emotion. When I was in high school, my mother was in the height of finishing up her phD in Nursing Science, while teaching full time and dealing with me an angsty 16 year old with a new boyfriend.

She tells me to this day how she couldn't have done it without my father. His support, whether it was editing and reading her millions of pages of dissertation or hoarding boxes and boxes of paper to print said dissertation, was absolutely essential to her success. She knows she put the work in, but when it came to those dark, long nights when she wanted to give up, when she had no ounce of thought left, when the sheer size of the thing completely overwhelmed her, he was there. Holding her hand, holding her up, helping her through.

Recently, my Dad told me that as a man, he can admit he gets "self-conscious" about having a wife that is more educated than him. He plans to get his phD too in the not-to-distant future, even though he's nearing 60 years old (he already has his MBA and studied Electrical Engineering in college, while in the Navy).

He's a man, he's competitive and he recognizes that. But never did this outweigh his joy for my mother and her ambition and accomplishments. Never did his insecurity or jealousy cause him to act out or react in a way that might cause him to take his words back, or apologize for possibly hurting her. Because he is strong and smart, just like her, and he knows that's not a threat to his existence. It is merely a complement to it.

My parents' marriage for the past 34 years has shown me just what it means to marry your best friend. To ultimately have faith in that person that they will always have your back, tell you when you're wrong, but keep your best interest, and therefore their best interest, as top priority, is the number one thing I'd love to have in a partner.

And so, as I plummet through countless failed relationships, my Dad occasionally shoots me an email (mostly because Mom has tattled and told him I've been having a hard time lately). He reminds me that some men might find my successes intimidating, and it's okay to let them go, because they're not the right ones for me. And that I should never, ever feel ashamed of what I've accomplished and where my choices have taken me, 'cause I've done alright for myself.

"At three years old, you decided you wanted to get your ears pierced. You walked into the kitchen one day and told us, just like that. But when we took you to the mall later, they did your right ear, and you cried so loudly people were looking. We had to take you home. The next day when you woke up, you told us you were ready to do your other ear. Mom and I looked at each other, asked one more time if you were sure, and you matter of factly said, "yes." And so back we went, to the same place in the mall again, only when they did it this time, you didn't cry one peep."

He loves to retell this story, as if somehow I'm meant to ascribe some bigger lesson from my three year old self. In some ways I do, because it helps me remember what kind of girl I am – the kind who knows what she wants, and has lopsided pierced ears.

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