“Fairy tales, the stuff of dreams…..the person who invented “happily ever after,” should have his ass kicked so hard." -Grey’s Anatomy
As a young teenage girl, I dreamt of a picture perfect life with the man of my dreams. The dream, which occurred more than once, went something like this.
I stand in a gorgeous kitchen. I chop vegetables and throw them into a large pot, sitting on my electric range stove. A television can be heard in the background, yet there are no kids in site. A 1 ½ year old girl sits in the highchair near the table. I can see her…she is quietly eating some cut up grapes. Every once in a while our eyes meet, and she offers me a smile. I hear a screen door slam. Two kids, a boy and a girl run through the kitchen and head for the stairs to the basement. I callout to them and tell them to wash up for supper. A few seconds later, “Okay, Mom.” The sound of their running through the house has muffled the sound of a man, my husband coming through the same door as the two children.
I feel his arms wrap around my waist from behind. He gently kisses my cheek and says, “Hm. Smells good.” I turn around, hug him tightly and say, “How was your day?” He walks over to the highchair and kisses the top of our little toddler girl’s head. He then walks to the pantry and grabs a bag of almonds. He leans up against the counter, facing me and beings telling me of his day. After about two minutes, his story is over. We exchange a few more words. He then asks me, “where’s little one?” I say, “She is sleeping.” As he walks toward the direction of our master bedroom, I shout to him, “You better not wake that baby.” Silence. I shrug and continue to finish up the stew I have cooked. The timer goes off and I take out freshly baked homemade biscuits. The two older children return and take their seats at the table.
I walk to the kitchen to rinse my hands. I glance out the window. The sun is setting over the mountains; it has turned the water a bright orange. I only got this house for the kitchen and the view. If I’m going to be spending the majority of my time cooking for a family of six, might as well enjoy the view. That was something I had told a friend the other month on the phone.
I grab bowls from the cabinet to my left and five spoons from the drawer to my right. I bring them over to the counter space near the stove. I turn the stove off and glance up. My husband, now changed out of his suit into a t-shirt and gym shorts, is standing at the table talking to the two older children. In his arms, is our newest addition, a six week old baby girl; I offer him a playful smile. He smiles at me and says, “What? She was awake anyway.” I reply, “Oh, yea sure.” I scoop up five bowls of food and place them on the table one by one. The toddler, I bring closer to me. I feed us both. My husband eats while holding our baby girl.
We sit and talk about our day. The kids talk about school and their excitement for summer—it was only a few weeks away.
I sit there in amazement at my beautiful family. Four beautiful well-behaved children, a hard-working husband, who is also a great father…how did I get so lucky? I got everything I wanted in my life. I got to be a mother, a stay-at home mother at that. I worked here and there, writing, acting, directing, producing… I was a one-woman show. The two older kids asked to be dismissed. They got up and took their dishes to the sink. “Go take your showers and do your homework,” said their father. “Yes, sir,” they said in unison.
They always did everything together, I guess as twins you usually do. He got up and handed me baby girl, who was starting to fuss. He took my bowl and our toddlers bowl and put them in the sink. He then picked her up and said, “I’ll bathe her and put her down. Then I will come clean the kitchen.” He leaned over and we kissed.
I retreated to the living room and sat in the recliner. I pulled up my shirt, unhooked my nursing bra and brought the baby to my chest. She let out a sigh of relief as she latched on. I patted her butt gently and we rocked.
I turned the still playing TV off. I could hear running water and the patter of footsteps above me.
Five minutes later, my twins came to kiss me and say “goodnight.” Five minutes after that, my husband brought me our toddler to kiss goodnight.
I pulled the baby from my chest and put her over my shoulder and began to pat her back. She let out a burp. I set her back down on my lap and began to nurse her again. My husband returned and I could hear the sound of running water and the clanking of the dishes being set in the dishwasher. Five minutes later, he came into the living room and sat on the couch next to me.
He reached from my hand and I let his wrap over mine. “So, I was thinking this weekend we could drop the kids off at Abby’s house and go stay up at the cabin. Of course, we’d bring little one since you’re her food supplier. I’d really like to get some quiet and go fishing.” I nod, “That sounds nice.” I pull my hand away to put the baby on my shoulder. I pat her back until she burps. “Can you believe she is already six weeks old,” I ask. “No, it seems just like yesterday we brought her home from the hospital,” he says. “She was unexpected and unplanned but I wouldn’t change my life. She is a perfect addition.” I turn to him and smile. “She is out for the next few hours, at least. I can only hope. Want to take her to the bassinet?” He stands up and takes and walks down the hallway to our bedroom, where her bassinet is. I get up and walk to our bookcase. I glance at the shelves looking for the right movie. I pick an action film and put it in the DVD player. I retreat to the couch and lay down.
I am amazed by the wave of exhaustion that hits me. “Lights out,” I hear my husband say behind me to the twins upstairs. “Goodnight Daddy,” they say, yet again in unison. I sit up and said, “Let’s watch a movie and then go to bed.” He lies down and I lie in front of him. He gentle wraps his arms around me and we watch our favorite action film.
The film ends. Little did I know that I drifted to sleep. He gently wakes me up and says, “Jen, let’s go to bed.” With only the hall light on, I walk slowly, dazed and half asleep. He walks behind me, his hand on the small of my back. Once, I enter the room I check on a still sleeping baby. I smile. I pull back the covers to our bed and climb in, still clothed in my daily clothes. My head hits the pillow and I fall fast asleep. I dream of my beautiful life with my children and my husband. I truly got my happily ever after.**********************************************************************
The first time, I woke up from this dream I woke up feeling like there is something to look forward to in life. That this dream would become my reality and I’d get to live a picture perfect life. After much heartache watching couples I knew and loved split up, cheat, get divorced….picture perfect “happily ever after” was left for fairy tales.
The truth is, as Meredith Grey says, “Reality is much stormier, much perkier, much scarier. Reality….it’s so much more interesting than happily ever after.”
Reality is real. I cannot live vicariously through Disney princess, movies, music, television shows, books, etc. It is all fantasy; it is all an elaborated thought an artist had in his/her imagination. Life is real, raw, and brutal. Life in general, is so much more interesting than happily ever after.