I know that I am likely plagiarizing a title for some book, tv show, movie, song title or something somewhere. Therefore, I humbly extend my greatest apologies to whomever I have officially offended and give you all the credit for your masterful play on words. By the way, the link will take you to an amazon.com list of titles related to “Happily Never After.” See, I am giving credit to where it’s due, just not in MLA style.
This post is NOT a rant. I am not upset or befuddled or twisted up inside. On the contrary, I have had a lovely girls’ weekend with the Girl during which we have completely binged on the first season of Once Upon a Time. I can do that when the boys aren’t home. The Husband completely despises romance/chick-flick dramas. I don’t blame him. The cross from reality to romance is fraught with tribulations and broken glass studded floors.
But, as a mother and a woman, I worry about the traps that we have set up for little girls. Yes, boys can just as quickly be seduced to fall for the whole “happy ever after” romance endings. And I do believe in romance and hope and joy and love. Wow…in reading that sentence, it feels like I’m talking about Santa Claus. No, I am not being sarcastic or overly-happy-emotional. I am currently sitting in my office and not on a rainbow-speckled Cloud Nine. That will come later…like graduation day…or the last day of school.
But, anyhow, back on topic!
I grew up with Disney princesses ala Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. When I was in elementary school and hiking in Switzerland, I actually sang to a bird because Princess Aurora did that and her birds sang back. My bird sang for a second. And then it flew away. It didn’t come back or initiate a waltz with me or bring me my Prince Charming. Of course, I was in elementary school and that would have been a little gross. Also, Mom was with me. She thought it was romantically charming that the bird and I shared a couple of notes; she would not find it charming if a full grown man tried to sing with me as well. She’d probably give him a boot to the head (that’s another reference).
I am not a victim. I do not blame Disney and Barbie for all of my insecurities and neuroses. I am not about to create a 12-step program for the victims of silicone romances. However, between the movies and some (only some…I DESPISE pulp fiction romances. They make me want to rip my face off) of the books I have read and plenty of television shows, I grew up with this unrealistic expectation of romance and love and how men are supposed to act.
So, I was horribly surprised when my first kiss was not sweet and romantic. I wasn’t exactly certain that I had been kissed. It was too…slippery to be a kiss but my lips were definitely wet and the guy was looking very satisfied. Yup…strike one.
And then there’s the first boyfriend with his fake accent and his fake sense of fashion and his real sense of animosity because I wouldn’t sleep with him. So after he broke up with me by attacking my writing (real winner there…), I fell into a very dark depression which inspired poetry that was actually published in the school’s literary magazine (take that jerk). Strike two.
Eventually, I found my Jerk Charming. Yes, my beloved rotten snake corpse who is actually beloved and currently laying in our bed and watching television while making fun of the commercials in which people act over dramatic with the hopes of selling a product. Yup. The first night of our relationship, he walked me home because he thought he was going to get lucky. Twenty-one years later, I like to make a joke that he was one unlucky fellow. Day two of our relationship involved him sweeping me off my feet and holding me out of a window..two stories up. Yup. Hence Jerk Charming.
But he is wonderful. I wanted a special “Mommy necklace” and knew what I wanted but never told him. And he got me exactly what I was thinking of without telling him or even giving him a clue. He is perfect.
He is designing our future home around my dreams, my wishes, even when I am too shy to tell him.
But Pat is not romantic. He is as far from romantic as a man can possibly be and then he is still a couple of steps beyond that possible pole. Romantic poetry? Not even a dirty limerick. Bouquets of flowers? Not since he made an ass of himself and got pissed at me for telling him I was pregnant with the Boy (15 years ago). Chocolates? Only if he gets to have some.
At the same time, this is also the man who made me flowers out of balsa wood because they would never die. He was miffed at me that I was miffed at him for never giving me tokens of his affection…aka flowers. His response: “You want me to give you flowers because they are symbolic of my love for you? But they’re dead! That means my love for you is dead! How is that good?”
Yup…score one for the Rotten Snake Corpse.
As a girl, I grew up with a dream of Prince Charming who would drop everything to meet my every whim. Note, I didn’t say need. I said whim. Because, as a human being, I frequently translate whims into needs which can be very dangerous for other people because I think I need something when I only want it at that point and once I have it, I will likely lose interest in it or regret the acquisition of said “need.”
I thought I needed Prince Charming who would shower me with gifts and love poetry and words that would make my soul hum with the music of the universe. I found a man who would do that for me. Only, I didn’t love him. I was even gentle but upfront with him about my feelings. “Let’s be friends. I can be you friend.” He turned into a passive-aggressive stalker.
I prefer my Jerk Charming to my stalker who couldn’t take no for an answer (Note: I was never physically hurt. I wouldn’t have let him physically hurt me. However, I did allow myself to be put in a situation where I could have been physically hurt. And I will never, ever do that again).
But my daughter….I am teaching her to want love and to give love. But I am also teaching her that not all men are going to be Prince Charming. That some men might be more like her father who will give her what she needs before he will give her what she wants. But, in the end, her father and I will teach her how to be independent so that when she needs something, she doesn’t have to make a phone call to someone else to have her need met. She will be capable of doing it on her own.
As for the Boy, I didn’t have to teach him how to be sweet and charming; his heart is naturally good and sweet and charming. A girl did teach him, though, that girls like to use and take advantage of boys who are sweet and charming. I’m still a bit miffed at that girl for breaking the Boy’s heart, especially right after Valentine’s Day. Because he didn’t get her a gift. Even though she needed one. He eventually got her something and it wasn’t right and that was it.
He still dreams of romance and I nourish his good heart but I gave him a shield.
Meanwhile, I don’t believe in the concept of Happily Ever After. I believe in Happy Right Now. Because I need right now. And right now, I am friggin’ happy.