I have been working a lot lately, and Leah was starting to really miss me. So, yesterday afternoon I saw an opportunity for a mommy-daughter date and seized it. She had been dying to go see the new Cinderella movie in theaters and it happened to be playing in the afternoon, after she got off the bus.
On the way to the movies we were listening to her favorite Taylor Swift CD when the song “Love Story” came on. Leah asked me about the song’s references to Romeo and Juliet, and so I explained to her that it is a famous story about two young people who fell in love, but that their families hated one another. I left out the tragic ending, for now, but I told her that it was a sad story.
After the movie was over, I asked Leah what her favorite part was, and she told me that it was when Ella married the king and became a queen.
It got me thinking, fairy tales are such unrealistic pictures of love. Both Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella are stories where the lovers fall in love after only one meeting. In real life, it is not all that common for love to lead to such dramatic tragedy as in Shakespeare’s tale, nor is it realistic to think that some man is going to sweep you off your feet and make you a queen.
Don’t get me wrong- I love fairy tales. However, as a mom I have to be sure that my daughter understands that these are just stories, meant to entertain us. Real love can feel magical, too, but I want her to have realistic expectations. And in reality, most of us fall somewhere between the tragic ending and the happily ever after ending.
I want my daughter to know that it is okay if it takes time to fall in love with someone. You should know that person inside and out before determining if they are your soul mate. I want her to know that not every day will be perfect. Love is messy and couples fight, and not only is that okay, but it is healthy. I want her to know that it’s not a partner’s job to save your life and fix all of your problems. Real love is about working together to build a life, even when you are struggling.
I saw a quote once, probably on Pinterest, that said something along the lines of, “A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other”. I think that the old-fashioned wedding vows were onto something; “In richer or in poorer, in sickness and in health…” True love, out here in the real world, is not finding the perfect person. It is finding the person whose imperfections you can live with because you love them anyway. And the person who you can be happy with in both the good times and the bad.
That is a lesson that I want my daughter to know about love. I hope that I am showing her by example.