Have you ever been at a wedding and caught a glimpse of your parents slow dancing? Maybe you marveled…or maybe you cringed, but I’m willing to bet you felt…something. Jan Larson shares a story about how watching her parents dance in the kitchen brought her comfort as a child, and now as a mother as she watches her children forge their own affections.
The legacy parents leave their children isn’t always easy to spot. On those rare occasions when we get a glimpse of something good, it is oh, so sweet.
As a child I delighted in my father’s nightly ritual. He would sneak up on my mother as they cleared away the dinner table or wiped down the counter tops and what was our kitchen transformed into their private ballroom dance floor.
“I only have eyes for you,” he crooned tenderly as he wrapped his arms around her, his face nestled into that space along the back of her neck and shoulder. Gently, he twirled her around, ignoring her mock protests, and swept her into his arms in a glide across the linoleum floor. The moment was brief, enchanting, and one that left a young child certain of her parents’ love. All was right with the world.
Some years later, I met and married my own darling. And then — one night while tidying the kitchen — I felt his arms wrap around me, hands turning me to face him as he guided me in our own dance across the hardwood floor. Happy tears pricked at my eyes as he twirled me, pulled me close and then, finished with the “big dip.”
As toddlers, our children squealed with pleasure at Daddy’s strength and the light in Mom’s eyes. As teens they offered eye rolls, shoulder shrugs and the predictable, “Get a room.” To which we replied, “We have a license (marriage, that is) to do this.” But underneath the playful teasing, our children, too, were certain of their parents’ love. And, again, all was right with the world.
Not too long ago, our eldest son stopped in for a Saturday brunch. As logs crackled in the fireplace and music filled our home, I busied myself in the kitchen. The little boy who once reached up to me, now a young man, put his hands on my shoulders and turned me to face him, pulling me toward him for his own dance. As we swayed to the music he looked down. “I want to be like you,” he said.
Stunned, my response was brutally honest. “Why?”
He tossed his head back in a brief laugh. “I just do.”
All my mistakes, all my flaws flashed through my mind. This would not do. I did not want to waste the moment. But what to say?
“Take the good, but leave the rest,” I fairly pleaded.
Another light laugh.
I realize now, I don’t need to fear for my son. He knows my flaws, yet finds reason to love. Perhaps in following his father’s example — taking our dance and making it his own, he already has claimed the best we have to offer.
If the legacy of children being certain of love is what we leave behind, then sweet is the knowledge that all will be right with the world.