My mother is great. And quirky. She doesn’t fit into any box; she is purely her own. I strive to be like that in so many ways. One of her quirks is something that I have inherited as well: she likes to edit children’s books as she reads them. Of course, most parents do this in some manner or another. This books is too long to read before naps, so we skip a few less-than-important parts and move on to the good stuff. Or we don’t use the word “stupid” in our house — it always becomes “silly.” But one instance of my mother’s editing has been a life lesson that I’ve grown to appreciate.
In reading any fairy tale, my mother would always change the ending. Most fairy tales end with, well, a fairy tale ending. Not in my house. Nope. In my house, fairy tales always ended with “and some days were better than others.” Call her a realist, but my mother wanted to be clear that even when Cinderella finally overcame her struggles and landed Prince Charming, they still had to figure the rest out. It is never the end of the story. There are daily struggles, even after the dragons have been slain.
This is true with most things in life, and none more so than life with kids. Family life can be beautiful, meaningful, momentous and oh-so-many other wonderful things. But it can be a challenge, too. Some days move swiftly, gracefully and we are all engaged in this story that drips of royalty and love. Other days we are stepping on each other’s toes, behaving much more like wicked stepsisters. Some times I find that I have supernatural patience, as if bestowed upon me by fairy godmothers. Other days I’m run ragged trying to put out the fires around me. (My line from today: I can only do one thing at a time. How many times did I say that?) Some days I manage to breathe more deeply, letting the moments come. Other days I’m struggling to even find my breath.
I do have my own fairy tale. It may not be the glossy Disney version, but more like the true gritty Grimm’s tales. There are moments of betrayal (even if I’m just betraying my own desires); moments of love at first sight (those eyes! My eldest’s, of course); even fatal moments of eating the poisoned apple (when losing my temper seemed the only choice left). Sometimes the story ends with wedding bells and cheers from the kingdom. But most often, it’s recognizing that some days are better than others. And thankfully, there’s always tomorrow.