Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Little Pride Goes a Long Way

As a parent, I am forever expressing pride in my children: to them, to my parents, to my coworkers, to anyone who stands still long enough to hear stories of their unmatched brilliance. What I do not do often, and should, is express pride in my husband.

The marital relationship does not necessarily lend itself to the constant stream of glowing acknowledgements that are omnipresent in the child-parent conversation. I praise my kids for assembling puzzles, clearing dinner dishes, and holding a bottle independently, and I feel a surge of pride every time they do these things. I think it would border on patronizing if I praised Chef Matt every time he used his fork at the dinner table.

But even though I do not feel a burst of pride for his every minor accomplishment, I think it is important that he knows I am proud of him, too. All of us need to know that our lives and work are appreciated, and that we give someone cause to boast a little to someone else.

This week, Matt cooked a spread of appetizers for an event at my work. It was small, perhaps 30 people, and held in a museum classroom with little pomp or circumstance. But as he always does when food is involved, he delivered, with care and class and creativity.

He arranged brie and manchego alongside blueberries and golden raisins. He seared and chilled strips of filet, and sandwiched them between crostinis and horseradish cream. He spread spicy cream cheese over homemade crackers, and topped them with roasted peppers and thinly sliced apples.

It was a beautiful spread. He worked with such precision, and projected such professionalism in his chef's whites.

And I was very proud. I could see my colleagues and their guests enjoying and exclaiming and going back for more, and I wanted to walk around to everyone, tap them on the shoulders, and say, "Isn't that delicious? My husband made it."

I am gushing a little here, but honestly, when was the last time someone told you that they were really proud of you? We do not hear it as often as we might have as children, when we were formulating skills and self-esteem. I argue that we need it just as much as adults, that it validates our hard work, which often goes unnoticed, and gives our self-worth a boost.

I charge you all, then, to express pride more often to the people you love who are not your kids. It will make their day. I will start it off: Honey, I am proud of you. You make awesome food.

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