Happily. Ever. After. The end to all Disney movies I watched as a child. The good guy always wins and all is safe and sound, aside from the villain, when the credits roll. Sometimes there’s a sunset, sometimes there’s a white horse, and sometimes there’s a castle, but there’s always a feel good life ahead of the happy couple who have overcome obstacle and struggle to be together forever in the end. This is the classic happily ever after that girls dream about sleeping in the princess bed with pink comforter and canopy just overhead. Good thing I never liked pink.
I used to believe in happily ever after. I was a Disney kid, after all. My views, though, have changed. I have learned that Disney, and movies in general, have tainted happily ever afters. At least, they have painted the wrong picture. So has society. Society views happily ever after as a little white house on a corner lot with two kids and dog on a perfectly green lawn with an old oak tree and a tire swing. It certainly sounds nice, doesn’t it? Anything less than this, for most, is considered failure, and far from the happily ever after we are programmed to seek.
I’m done striving for happily ever after. Instead, I want to embrace the here and now. By waiting on happily ever after, I am saying that my life right now is not enough to make me happy. That my husband and son aren’t enough to fulfill me. Worse yet, I’m saying that the blessings God has so graciously given me doesn’t measure up to the life I always imagined I have. Really? Can I be that selfish?
I have been. I have wished my life away, waiting for my happily ever after, waiting for life to be just perfect to begin living, truly living. By doing so, I have let joy after joy slip through my hands. I have let days go by without truly laughing, truly embracing what I have right in front of me, because I’m too busy waiting for something better. A better house, a better car, a better family, a better job. Always wanting more when I have all that I need at my fingertips.
I looked at my son tonight. Truly looked at him. Too many days have went by that I have only survived the evening to get to his bed time so I could do what I needed to do. Laundry? Laundry! Really, that’s what I want to wish my life away for? Clothes and towels and folding and sorting? That’s why I want him to slip off to dreamland? That’s what I’m getting so worked up over not being done? What’s wrong with me! It’s like I’ve blinked and he’s gone from being this tiny little newborn to the independent, strong willed toddler he has become. How many joys have I missed out on, because I was too preoccupied with things that don’t matter? How many tickle fests have I skipped out on? How many kisses have I failed to steal? How many days have turned to night without me seeing him, truly seeing him? How have I not seen that he is the embodiment of my happily ever after?
Too many days I have wasted, simply surviving, rather than thriving. Too many minutes I have allowed myself to be stressed out, worn down, and frazzled. I have held my breath over dirty dishes, lost my cool over unvaccumed floors, and nearly melted down due to lost socks. Socks! Like the end of the world was upon me because I couldn’t find the match to Izaiah’s navy sock. I have been hateful, unruly, and downright mean, and why? Because I have felt the pressure of happily ever after and have failed to live up to it. I have worked and strived to become Wonder Woman, to work and clean and love and craft and be and do, when all I’ve really down is throw myself on a hamster wheel and run. And run and run and run. And let life pass me. And let bath time stop being fun. And let picking up toys be more important that picking up my boy. And let dishes take priority over dates. And let myself get lost in the funk of all my so called failures. And all because I’ve been waiting on happily ever after.
I’m done waiting. I want to live my happily ever after now, with my leaky roof and squeaky floors, with my Christmas tree that’s still in the middle of my living room on the fifteenth day of January, with the dishes sorted waiting to be washed, with the laundry tossing in the dryer for only the third time because I’ve yet to find the energy to fold it and put it away, with me being 360 days away from my thirtieth birthday without my four year degree. Yes, my happily ever after is now, with a little blue eyed, blond haired boy who likes to wake up at 3 AM for a fresh diaper and some milk. Now with my three cups of coffee to help me get through the day. Now with my no makeup face and a husband that still looks at me as though I am the most beautiful woman in the world. Now with a daddy that I am blessed for my son to call Pop, a Pop that he asks for every single day. Now with a job that I never imagined I’d do, but that on most days, I still love, working with people that I am a better person for knowing. Now with a God who still loves me, though I fail daily, and still believes that I am worth His son.
My happily ever after has no castle, just a rundown trailer held up mainly by prayers and love. My happily ever after has no white horse, just a horse’s head on a stick that Zay likes to ride as it neighs, the way it does in his story book with Old MacDonald. It has no magic carpets, just a clunker of a Chevy blazer that the wonderful men I work with make sure gets me from point A to point B safely. No glass slippers or a clock striking midnight, unless you count the clock on the wall that strikes me unreal every time I look to see what time it is when I lay down at night.
So I guess I still believe in happily ever after after all. Just the amended version, not the Disney version. If only Disney knew what they were missing maybe they’d show what really happens after all the credits roll. I think Cinderella and Jasmine would love a life like mine. They’d be blessed to have it. I know I am, even if it’s taken me twenty nine long years to realize to reinvent happily ever after to fit my life. Better late than never!
***And she closed the computer, locked the doors, turned off the TV and light, slipped down the hall to check on her sweet sleeping prince, and laid down beside her hero of a husband, silently thanking God for her happily ever after***
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