Beware Of Fairy Tales

by Robin Munson

Beware Of Fairy Tales

I was thinking about marriage the other day, and thinking about what it is and what it is not. I am amazed, as a woman in my “second act”, to compare notes with the younger woman I was at 23. Very little of what I thought then remains with me now on the subject of marriage.

I grew up thinking I was Cinderella. What girl doesn’t? It was obvious to me from the first time my mother read me that story that it was a thinly veiled version of the truth. Whenever I was involved in an altercation in my family I was convinced that 1) I had been abandoned by my “real mother” and left with a “wicked stepmother” 2) my “jealous stepsisters” would not let me go to the ball 3) my father was totally insensitive to my plight 4) I needed rescuing by a handsome Prince Charming – FAST!

What’s a young Princess Incognito to do? Well, of course, I set about making making myself as attractive as possible, buying glass slippers, and hoping that the Prince would recognize me and “take me away from all This”.

Here is what I found out – Twenty or so years of lessons encapsulated into a couple of paragraphs:

1) There are a lot of pretenders to the throne out there who will be glad to cart you away on their broken down nags and let you wash their dirty socks and sweep out their roach-infested palaces (okay, or take out their trash and fix their broken washing machine, as the case may be), and generally, do their bidding, while they in turn reward you with insult and reproach.

2) I am not Cinderella, or at least, Cinderella is not nearly as helpless as she appears. The “Fairy Godmother” lives inside all of us, ready at our command to turn pumpkins into carriages, mice into mighty stallions, and rags into gorgeous gowns (okay, or tuxedos, as the case may be). This is the most important lesson of all. Oddly enough, when I made this realization, my prince came along as if on cue – not years later, but almost instantaneously. It was truly MAGIC. And I like to think we rescued each other.

In the real world, we do not “ride off into the sunset” and “live happily ever after”. We walk resolutely into the sunrise, hand-in-hand. It is the beginning of the story, not the end. We live vibrantly ever after. We live uncertainly ever after. We live authentically ever after. We stumble. We disappoint. We learn. We grow. We love. And if we’re lucky, we laugh, too. And our definition of love becomes much richer, more forgiving. There is still romance, but it is romance with eyes open and feet firmly on the ground. Much more thrilling, for my money!

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