Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happily Ever After....

Thanks to fairytales and Disney movies, Little girls know with absolute certainty that the Prince will always come to the rescue of the Princess at the end of the story. Or, at least every fairytale we’ve ever gone to bed hearing told us that.

So for years we laid our impressionable little heads on pillows, and drifted off into stress-free slumber with visions of perfect endings. Just the stuff dreams are made of.

And this is the point where we owe every man alive an apology.

It’s no wonder men never live up to our warped expectations. It’s not that our princes are inadequate. It’s that our expectations are not realistic. We expect them to save us from lonely towers, poison apples, wicked stepmothers, fire breathing dragons and really mean bosses. And we expect them to get that work done in short order on a daily basis while they are facing their own dragons. We expect them to deliver “happily ever after.”

We expect a lot.

Little boys, on the other hand, are also given over to delusions of grandeur. They are told that by pinning a towel around their shoulders, they become a superhero who can fly.  For little boys, an old tree branch becomes a deadly sword to fight off evil aliens from invading the world. And a stick becomes a gun to shoot the bad man and save everyone from danger. Every little boy is a hero in his own eyes, because that is what he is told he can and should be.  

And this is where they owe women everywhere an apology.

Because little girls believed little boys. We believed they could fly. We believed those swords would save us from the world and from ourselves. They should have told us the truth the moment they realized they couldn’t leap tall buildings in a single bound.

So, does the stuff of fairytales really exist? Are there knights in shining armor just looking for a damsel to rescue? Is there a “happily ever after?”

I spent the day asking both men and women if they believed “happily ever after” really exists. The answers were pretty predictable. Many women said no, and were adamant about it. A few said yes, but they agreed you have to work for it. I never did get a straight answer from the men. One said, “I don’t understand the question.”

But the most profound answer came from the mouth of my own little girl. The daughter I had read bedtime fairytales to. All grown-up now, she put into words what many had not been able to do;

Of course it exists.” (this with a mouth full of spaghetti as we shared dinner together)…The fact is, everyone is responsible for their own happy. We all have the ability to experience “happily ever after” on a daily basis.“

She’s absolutely right. The truth is, “happily ever after” does exist. But it has nothing to do with being rescued by a handsome prince. (although that wouldn’t hurt). It doesn’t hinge on a relationship. It has everything to do with finding our own happy.

So here’s my advice on how to experience your “happily ever after.” 

First, to the gals: Take note. Little boys do not grow up to become perfectly built, impeccably groomed, handsome men whose only job is to protect us. They come in all shapes and sizes with all levels of intelligence, and actually have jobs that have nothing to do with fighting dragons. Most will rescue the person they love if given the chance. They will slay dragons for you. The challenge is you have to communicate that you need them to do that. And we aren’t very good at that.

To the guys: Women are not Barbie dolls with legs that never end and flawless makeup. Barbie looked good but her head was empty. Ours are not. We are smart. So put your swords away, we don’t need rescuing. Well….maybe we do a little. But what we really need is to feel cherished above everything else in your life. Especially whatever it is that is taking up most of your time.

All this aside, I refuse to believe that fairy tales are all fantasy.  Call me delusional, but there’s a small part of me that still believes – hopes – for that fairytale experience. For that “happily ever after” ending.  And I’ll bet that every girl reading this feels the same way. 
I’d bet my tiara on it.