Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cinderella in a Suit

Growing up, I had this inches-thick volume of fairytales that I would pour over at bedtime. Cinderella, Rapunzel, The Princess and The Pea, and dozens of other delicate maidens danced in my dreams to strains of "Someday my prince will come." My sister and I spent countless hours garbing ourselves in my mom's old dresses and sensible pumps, transforming them into ball gowns and ruby slippers. Chiseled princes rescued us from all manner of predicaments, and we rode happily into the sunset. * Insert screeching sound* Get real, right?!

My Prince has come... in a 68 dodge dart with rust on the fender. My ball gown turned into jeans and a fleece with snot on the sleeve. And my ruby slippers, well, those are still fabulous. What happened to my fairytale? Where is my Pretty Woman leaning on a fire escape moment? When will someone write our story in a Notebook?! Why do I care?

As twenty-something women of this millenium, we are supposed to subscribe to a new set of beliefs. Not only are we supposed to be the smart, independent, anti- Cinderella, but we are supposed to be demure, sweet, mothers and wives. We're supposed to do, have, and be all....with a smile. Well, the lady doth protest! Of course I would like to be a fabulous cook, a perfect mother, an amazing nurse, the best girlfriend, a great friend, a good daughter, etc.... But when would I go to the bathroom? Where in this plan can I read People magazine and eat chocolate cake out of the box (oh by the way, you have to look perfect too)?

Where did all these pressures come from and how do we rise above? I don't have the answers, but I do know that awareness of the problem can start the process.
My best friend K, whose is single, beautiful, and fabulous, sometimes talks about how her life is missing something. She thought that by 26 her life would have more, be "better". Reading between the lines, I guess that means chiseled prince, two kids and a dog. I remember thinking the same thing when I was single, dreaming about Mr. Right while Mr. Last Night drooled on my Pottery Barn pillowcase. Well, Mr. Right turned out to have a few chinks in his armor.
We always think that the other side has it better. I envision K in sparkly party clothes sipping cool, silvery martinis....she imagines me singing idyllic lullabyes with Sydney cuddled close. What neither of us sees is that K's heel is broken and Syd has boogers in her nose.

Life happens, and rarely as we imagine it will. Life is not to blame, it is our unfulfilled expectations that are to blame. If we give ourselves permission to cook Hamburger Helper instead of Chicken Cordon Bleu, use Elmo as a babysitter, screen our phone calls, read internet gossip at work, or spend $200 on "so-not-sensible" shoes....we live our life as we choose to live it, instead of how society would live it for us.


Blogger jenn256 said...

what a wonderfully written blog topic, and very true. When I was growing up thinking about when I would be older I never thought about paying bills, work pressure, having to make enough time for your kids, spouse, friends, family, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.

And yes it's true, the grass is always greener... My girlfriend recently got divorced, and I find myself jealous sometimes when she tells me she is going home to her nice new apartment with her cute little dog to fix something very unhealthy for dinner and sit and watch TV with complete command over the remote. But as a 30 year old divorced woman, she sees my life as the perfect answer to what she was missing in her marriage and in her life. I wish a lot of things were different. I wish I had more time to shop for really cute clothes without having my daughter escaping under the dressing room and chasing after her half dressed through a store. I wish I could come home and order Chinese or eat crap for dinner instead of feeling like I have to provide my family with a nutritious dinner, veggies and all, or I will be condemmed. I wish I could loose the last 10 pounds I never lost after having my daughter, but I have decided that after her 2nd birthday party two months ago if it hasn't happened yet, it ain't gonna ever happen!

But I hate to waste my life away wishing things were different. You know the old saying, "Life is what happens when you aren't paying attention." And God knows with kids, it goes by fast enough to begin with. So I will suffer with my 10 pounds, fix my healthy chicken dinner with all the healthy fixin's, and share the remote begrudgingly (except in Wednesday between 8-9pm). And I will continue to shop with my daughter and try to find better ways to occupy her time while I try on cute clothes that I cannot afford on a stay-at-home moms budget, for this is my life- and love every snot filled minute of it.

And I guess the most intriguing part of this is...aren't we reading these same stories to our kids? What do we do? Would you have wanted any different had you known how it would all turn out?

7:39 PM  
Blogger Starbucks Mom said...

Oh Jenn, Jenny Jenn Jenn...
I was thinking that when Sydney is older I might read her some fairtytales. But, wouldn't it be cool to read kid versions of biographies about strong women? Not the Nazi-Fem types, but women who do great things and step outside the box. Like Elenor Roosevelt and Mother Theresa. I remember I loved the Little House on the Prairie books too.
K and I were talking this morning about something I didn't have time to add to my blog. Each side of the story does the best they can to perpetuate the myth. Singletons have to talk about the fabulousness of life to feel validated, as we Moms let people think that they are missing out. it's human nature. But instead of supporting each other and taking each other for what we are and where we are at...we drive a wedge.
We are not that different. I think you will agree with me when I say....I am not a "Mommy", I am a person who has a child. Of course that child has changed me. But I am still ME...Sydney's Mom is just a part of that.
As for your healthy chicken dinner...chuck that and bust out the bon-bon's!

9:56 AM  
Blogger Sarafu said...

Great Topic ans Great Input!!! There is so much to say, but between the two of you you have covered most of my thoughts. Plus my 3 year old has stolen most of my brain cells today along with any rational thought. :) I think it is really important to grasp that although our life isnt a fairy tale is it what it is and we need to treasure what we have right now. Easier said than done most of the time, for me anyway. My mom was a therapist and when she would read those stories to me when I was older or we would see a movie like "Pretty Woman" she always had to preface it with "You know Sweetie, life isnt like this, its fun to watch in the movies but dont walk into your life with those expectations because you will be disappointed". I would always roll my eyes at her and say "thanks for ruining the movie mom" but I always remebered what she said.
Hey, I want some bon bons for dinner!

2:24 PM  
Blogger jenn256 said...

I LOVE the bon-bon idea!!! And I fully agree that I am a mom, but that role does not define me as a person or human being. Was I any less of a person when I was single, or as a happily married person? No, absolutley not, I am a different person, maybe a little better for the things she is teaching me, but no less than who I was.
As far as the stories, I like the idea of giving Giana the knowledge that she can do things with her life besides just get married and have children. As a mother I will probably be pursecuted for this, but that's not the end all. Being truly happy with who she is and her life and the choices she makes is what will make her a wonderful fulfilled person, and at that point my work as a mother will be done. If she is lucky enough to find someone to share her life with and have children, then I think that's the bonus.

And I like the idea of introducing other strong women in her life besides Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. No offense to Disney, but I would love to see a cartoon where a heroin actually has a job, and they show the story after "Happily Ever After". Hell, even reading her stories about fictional strong women is better than some of the other crap. And please don't get me wrong, I am not going to go out and throw away every fairy tale she owns, but I like the idea of introducing the idea of being a confident, strong, happy woman before "Prince Charming" comes along. After all, if she doesn't discover the wonderful woman she is and will be before he comes along, isn't he fallng in love with someone that she is not?

PS- Alias was awesome tonight!!!

8:44 PM  
Blogger Starbucks Mom said...

Amen sister!

10:40 AM  

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