Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happily Ever After

What's up with the whole 'living happily ever after' thing?

When I was growing up, every fairytale ended this way: And they lived happily ever after. The end.
What a crock of doo doo! It's the biggest cop-out in the world since Adam first blamed Eve for getting booted out of the Garden of Eden. Who actually gets to live happily-ever-after-the-end? Nobody.

What really happens is this:
Prince Charming knows he's good looking and spends the better part of the morning performing his ablutions in front of the bathroom mirror. Then he goes out riding. While he's gone, his mom comes and hassles you about why you aren't taking better care of him as he's looking peaked. Then she insists that you need Princess lessons and a massive makeover.

In reality, you're the one looking peaked because you're big-as-a-house pregnant with the Royal Heir and spending most of your time barfing into the royal throne. That's at first.

Then you get teenagers. Prince Charming is still one of them. They all go over to Prince Humperdink's castle to play video games and  eat pizza, despite the fact that you've begged, reminded, cajoled, ordered, and threatened them to do their chores and clean up their respective garderobes (at least that's what their rooms smell like by now).
You get to stay home and deal with the lame horse, the impending war with the neighboring castle over why you can't use their wall, the dog barfing up dinner food in your back room, a tower of laundry the size of the Eiffel Tower, and pint-sized nagging magazine merchants. Your Queen-in-law has decided you're a lost cause and chats incessantly with your evil step sisters over why you couldn't have acquired at least some of their polish. She'll probably never understand what Charming ever saw in you.

Or something like that.

I want to read about what happens after you ride off in your pumpkin coach. (And that, by the way, is going to be one smelly, fuzzy coach in about a day.) There's got to be some magic left over from just snagging the guy. What, you bag the prince and immediately get lobbed into the Worthless Things cupboard along with all the other wretched items such as old butter tub lids, left-handed smoke shifters, and eight track tapes? (Wait a minute. I can use the lids.)

If I'm engineering my own happily-ever-after, I want to be the cool married Queen who goes dancing with the King enough to wear out my slippers. I want my princes and princesses to be respectful to me even if they know that I can't add two poison apples together to make a diamond, like they can. I want my castle to magically grow larger than the woodcutter's hovel. And more than that, I want them to understand me! Yeah. That would be a happy ending!

(This is a work of fiction. In reality, I couldn't have nicer in-laws and the dog we own is invisible.)

This is a piece I wrote in answer to someone else's  blog about Happily Ever Aftering:

I had the whole starry-eyed optimism/naivete nonsense going on. I married a gorgeous, talented guy after spending an excruciatingly short time dating him. He swept me off my little girl feet. And then he went on to sweep OTHER girls off THEIR feet while he was married to me. THAT, my friend, was a wake-up call. He tried to prove to a marriage councilor that I was insane so he could take our adorable daughter. There were all kinds of mind games.

But out of that magma of self-hatred and depression I emerged like one of those fireflowers which spring up after the lava has cooled. I went back to college and graduated with two degrees and high honors. I had two full-time jobs and 19 credits at the time. I danced every chance I got, joined a tour choir, and was the token girl in our caving group. 

My daughter grew up incredibly well-rounded, self-assured around adults (even gave dating advice to my guy friends when she was 4), and whip-smart. I married my best friend and favorite caving buddy and had 5 more children with him. Life has never been what I thought it would be when I was young. I was going to be a ballerina. I was going to marry someone adorable and perfect. We were going to live the whole Happily Ever After Myth.

But there's something to be said about being tested in the fiery furnace. You either come out charred into bitter ash, or you come out a sharp and tempered blade. Those who never have such tempering tend to break under stress. Everyone has some kind of challenge. Every time you walk by those lurid magazines in the checkout lines you see a bit about some famous person with piles of money whose spouse is sleeping with someone else, or they're dying of cancer, or drugging themselves to death. They have not been tempered--or their tempering is taking another form.

I personally would rather be the blade than the ash, for now I know that the sweeping fire of opposition will come whether we want it or not. Such knowledge comes in the face of experience. Welcome to the furnace, my friend...;o)


  1. How true this is. I relate!! You're absolutely right . They need to write a realistic fairy tale but then I guess it wouldn't be so enchanting!!

  2. See I think is issue is defining HEA. I don't see it as not having any pain or challenges in life. There's no growth without those things. You know I've gone through some tough things with mental illness in my family, but I still think I'm living my HEA.

    I am just growing much more than I ever dreamed of. =D