I grew up a firm believer in fairy tales and Happily Ever Afters. I thought all I needed was my Prince (yes Prince with a capital P), and I would get my own happily ever after. I invested a lot of time and energy in finding that Prince. And trust me, I went through quite a few frogs. My Happily Ever After meant getting married and having beautiful babies. I never thought past that to the rest.
I did find my Prince. Trust me, this man puts up with a lot. But then he can sometimes be a frog himself. And we did have our beautiful babies. But this is certainly not the Happily Ever After I imagined. One preemie, one princess unexpectedly 12 months younger than our preemie, and then our autistic work-in-progress. There are moments of Happily, but there are also days and weeks of Grumpily, Angrily, Fearfully, Exhaustedly, and Tearfully.
You know why Cinderella ends when she marries her Prince? Because reality is, life is hard. It’s messy. I think I struggle because I still sometimes feel I should have that Happily Ever After, and if I don’t, then someone or something must be wrong. I want that old ideal of Happy. In truth, there are things I would change, but I have a good life. I am blessed in so many ways. As my run yesterday ended with me walking over 3 miles home (planned 8 miles ended at 5 when my knee and IT band said “no mas.”), I had one of those moments of clarity. I wanted, so desperately, to keep running. But then I took a deep breath and said to myself, “No, it’s okay to walk this. It’s not the end of the world to walk the rest of the way. No, it’s not what you planned, but look around…it’s a beautiful day, and you have time today to just take it in.” In a moment of clarity, I knew I needed to let go the ideal of Happily Ever After. It isn’t real, or at least what I used to think it was isn’t real. If the fairy tale went on after Cinderella married the Prince, we would see the real Happily Ever After – the one that’s messy, complicated, up and down, sideways, and backwards.
I’m on a mission to grab hold of my new idea of Happily Ever After, and let go the old Idea. It’ll be a daily challenge, trust me. What idea are you letting go of? And how painful is it?